How Can I Help My Husband With His Addiction?
Question: I am writing for some help with my husband’s addiction to marijuana, prescription drugs, and possibly other kinds of drugs. This is a long-standing problem, and yet he refuses to openly admit it. He doesn’t work, and depends on me to provide for the family. I would like for him to go to treatment, but he is a Christian and he refuses to consider treatment because he proclaims that he has been delivered. Unfortunately, he continues to use substances Is there anything more I can do? I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate his addictions. Since I am the only one working, I am quite certain some of his habit is being supported by money I share with him simply because he’s my husband. Also, there is some possibility that he is selling drugs to support his habit. Is there anything more I can do, other than divorce him?
I suspect that there will be those who read this that will empathize with you because they are in the same predicament. Other than knowing that you are not alone, that doesn’t solve your problem. Unfortunately, there are many people who are dependent on intoxicating substances that hide under that cloak of a religious experience. There is well-documented evidence that many of the most successful treatment programs are Christian based and promote the concept of deliverance. I firmly believe that many have been delivered from a variety of addictions and other vices (sins). However, if your husband is one who puts forth the image that all is well and that Jesus has delivered him, yet you know better, he probably needs the tools that he will only get through treatment to address a number of underlying issues and false assumptions.
It is unfortunate that so many who claim to be Christians and who believe in the power of God to deliver, live the painful life of failure in the pursuit of sobriety due to pride that interferes with admitting their need for help. If you cannot convince your husband to seek help, you might consider asking for help from someone who is a Christian living a victorious life of sobriety, and who has successfully completed treatment. Most treatment programs have a spiritual component. This is the heart of the Twelve-step model promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). I do not find that the Twelve-step approach conflicts with Christian principles. Years ago, I came across the twelve steps of AA and their biblical comparisons. I have listed them below:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (marijuana, prescription drugs, etc.)—that our lives had become unmanageable. “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18, NIV).
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1, NIV).
3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, NIV).
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our selves. “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD” (Lamentations 3:40, NIV).
5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16, NIV).
6. We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land” (Isaiah 1:19, NIV).
7. We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10, NIV).
8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. “First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24, NIV).
9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38, NIV).
10. We continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong, and promptly admitted it. “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (Romans 12:3, NIV).
11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight” (Psalm 19:14, NIV).
12. Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics (drug addicts), and practice these principles in all our affairs. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:1-5, NIV).
One thing that you can do is to refuse to become an enabler to your husband. Those close to an alcoholic or drug addict often begin enabling in an attempt to be kind and helpful. For example, if your husband were working you may wake him so he is not late to work. By doing so, you help him avoid the consequences of oversleeping because he was using or drinking late into the night before. You noted that your money is likely going to buy drugs. Though it is difficult, and you may feel guilty, it is probably in his best interest if you find ways to reduce or eliminate his access to your money. Whether you realize it or not, you may have developed your own system of denial that is fed by the lies and deceptions your husband uses to cover up his use of drugs.
When things go bad for him due to his substance abuse, don’t rescue him. You may fear that if you don’t intervene, he will do something much worse. It’s important that you not become a victim of his manipulation. Alcoholics and addicts are great manipulators. If you cut off the source of money, he may threaten to be unfaithful to you, he may berate you and point out all your flaws, or he may attempt to control you be telling you that if think this is bad, he can make it even worse. When he’s arrested for selling drugs, don’t bail him out. Draw a line and stand your ground.
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.