How to Spotlight Lurking Signs of Drug Addiction in Your Spouse

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Signs of Drug Addiction in Your Spouse Can Start Small

Are you noticing lurking signs of drug addiction in your spouse?  Many adults choose to engage in recreational use of drugs or alcohol.  It’s not my place in this article to make judgment on anyone’s choice.  And with many states now strongly considering the legalization of marijuana, there will be plenty of opportunity to discuss risks later.

Regardless of legalization, addiction can occur with anyone.  And due to the risks and care for our loved one’s wellbeing, their possible addiction is important to see.

In most cases, addiction occurs accidentally.  And in large part, it is a result of prescribed medications.  Have you heard of the Opioid Epidemic?

Do you suspect drug addiction in spouse?
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There are literally thousands of people addicted to pain medications because of their doctors.  These medications were originally marketed as non-addictive.

Boy were they wrong; and people are dying as a result

We will help you break down what addiction is and what it may look like to help you seek the best course of action for your spouse.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a commission based upon your purchase, which does not affect the price you pay. It is my intent to provide affiliate links that you might find useful!

Signs of Drug Addiction in Your Spouse Might Be Unique to Them

So as a concerned loved one, how can you know what you’re seeing is addiction?  We have all likely been in a situation where we’v

Opposite of abuse, there are many people who come home from work and have a beer or two to wind down (as I said, no judgment- I’m in this category).

In-between these stark differences there are littered examples of stealing, secrecy, and other hurtful acts.

For us to understand if what we see is addiction, we need to consider a few variables.

So, let’s first define addiction.

Diagnostically, the word addiction closely means dependence- psychologically or physiologically.

There are eleven criteria that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness, fifth edition uses to evaluate the extent of someone’s use.  Try also this desk reference for this!

    • You take more of the substance or over a longer period of time than was intended
    • You want to cut down or control use but can’t or fail when trying
    • There is a significant amount of time spent getting or recovering from the substance
    • You crave or really want to use the substance
    • Use leads to a failure of major role obligations
    • Use leads to recurring social or interpersonal issues
    • You give up important activities
    • Ongoing use in situations that are dangerous
    • Use continues when you know it’s causing a physical or psychological problem
    • You achieve tolerance
    • Withdrawal symptoms are present

The more criteria you meet, the more significant the addiction.

Signs of Drug Addiction in Your Spouse may begin with Hiding Their Behavior

The DSM-5’s definition of addiction may well be clear as day if you see it.  However, your spouse may not parade their use around.

There are three different signs of drug addiction in your spouse to observe.

Let’s take a look at these clues.

Secrecy– is your loved one hiding their phone?  How about spending long periods of time in the bathroom?  What about lying?

When someone is developing alcohol and drug addiction, they feel the need to hide from their loved one.  This is due to shame and to avoid criticism of their behavior.

This is where the knowledge of their usual behavior will help tip you off.  There is behavior change with addiction to alcohol or drugs.

Use your instincts and pay attention to these sometimes subtle changes.

Mood changes– when someone is developing an addiction, mood swings are common.  If they are not able to use, their mood will become depressed, agitated, or anxious.  They even state that the drug helps take away these symptoms.

This is a huge red flag!

We all can go through stressful times.  However, drastic changes in your mood do not generally occur.  Fighting more than usual or fighting about questioning use certainly can fall into the criteria noted above.

In-fact, anxiety, agitation, and depression when not using are common signs of withdrawal for many drugs including marijuana.

If your spouse is addicted to alcohol or drugs, it’s likely they will make excuses for their behavior, mood, and rationalize any wrongdoing.

Whatever you do, keep yourself on alert for these signs of drug addiction in your spouse!

Physical signs– look for burns, smells, track marks, and other indicative signs.  These physical signs are clear evidence of drug use; if you are concerned about one of the first two and now this evidence, you have more than a reasonable suspicion.

Burns, smells, track marks, and the multitude of physical signs do not occur by accident.  If you aren’t sure what some of these signs look like, there are plenty of examples on the web.

So, where do you go from here if you now have a real cause for concern?


Talk to Your Spouse Early and be Firm with Consequences

To help a loved one, I encourage you to first confront them in a constructive way.  Do not be a part of the problem!  Set clear boundaries and expectations.

If the loved one crosses a boundary, you must live up to any discussed consequences and always offer help to get them into treatment!

You do not have to be a part of their addiction, but you should be a part of their recovery.

This conversation needs to remain constructive and centered around the evidence that you have seen.  When talking to your spouse, assure them that you still care for them but want them to get help.

Treatment Resources

Your consequences for crossing a boundary are up to you.  They need to be serious enough to change behavior, however.

Telling your spouse that you will not cook dinner for a week may not matter.  If you tell them that you will move out, however, that can be a big motivator.

Treatment is Available if You verify Signs of Drug Addiction in Your Spouse

Treatment will often depend upon the insurance that you carry and the available resources in your area.

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The first step is to contact your insurance company.  You need to find out what expenses you are looking to pay out of pocket, when that is due, and how services should be accessed.

There are insurances companies that may require you to complete an assessment and get prior authorization to get treatment.  Another insurance company may simply do a quick phone screen and help you set up your appointment for treatment.

You must know your insurance coverage to not delay treatment.

If your spouse is experiencing a life threatening emergency, you need to go to the nearest emergency room.  Withdrawal from alcohol and some drugs can be life threatening.

Some treatment options may not require you to go inpatient or fully detox.  So, if your spouse is addicted to opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, or pharmaceutical pain narcotics, there are medication assisted treatments that can take place on an outpatient basis.

Check with your insurance company to see if they cover these treatments.  Medications that fall within this class include methadone, suboxone, and naltrexone.

The use of these medications is not continuing the addiction.  For opioid related addictions, they are best practice.

When talking to your insurance company, be sure you are also talking with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.

Do You think Recovery is Impossible?  Here is a Fantastic True Account of Recovery!

To shift focus slightly, I think it’s imperative to drive home the point of hope.  Without that, recovery is impossible.

Check out Nic’s Story!

During my graduate studies, we read a true story of a young man, Nic Sheff who had the world ahead of him.  He had an amazing talent in writing and otherwise was relatively average.

Nic takes us on his journey through addiction.  He uses nearly every drug imaginable.

He also does about anything you could imagine to get his hands on those drugs including methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine among others.

This story explains very well in how drugs can consume your life without much realization.

You will live in his mind and feel the rationalization he uses to excuse himself for stealing and soliciting himself.

The story reads extremely well and highlights the struggles of addiction and his parents maintaining hope for recovery.  Nic parallels these highlights with his covert desire to be loved and fit in with his family.

I highly encourage you to purchase the book and read it cover to cover.  You will not be disappointed!  And when you’re finished, you can then compare the book to the upcoming movie.

Yet despite the incredible lows in this book, the underlying hope needs to be acknowledged by you, the reader.  And it is for that reason, you must not enable their behavior, but you should encourage their treatment.

Recovery is possible; that hope is driven home through Nic’s story.  He went on to publish additional books including one with his father.  If you are serious about recovery, check it out!

Verified Signs of Drug Addiction in Your Spouse Need Love and Hope to Recover 

There are two things that are incredibly important to get from this article.

First, addiction is a continuum.  It’s not uncommon to ebb and flow throughout it.  And because of this, it is not always easy to identify addiction in your spouse using formal diagnostic criteria or informal observations.

Second, if your spouse is addicted to alcohol or drugs, you have a duty to fulfill.  It is to set firm boundaries to not enable and to follow through on consequences established.  However, these consequences should not undermine hope!

There are many resources available to get help.  Do not shame addiction.  It is not the result of a character defect.

Recovery is possible with love and hope that deconstructs this stigma that pushes people away from treatment.

I wish you and your family the best in your journey.  Here are some great resources for help:

SAMHSA Helpline

Addiction Center Resources

Health Finder Resource List

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Great article and a very important topic 🙂 Thanks for sharing this useful information.

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Hi! I'm Ben

I’m a licensed clinical social worker and addictions counselor who has also dealt with significant mental health struggles over the years. Here, I share the best mental wellness support and resources to help you live your best life.


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