Is Your Spouse an Addict?

Retirement is supposed to be a time of fun and joy for a couple. Even the strongest of relationships go through changes during the transition into retirement. For some people, being retired results in feelings of isolation, boredom and loss of meaning.

Many spouses ignore or deny symptoms of alcohol or drug abuse prior to retirement, but can’t after. If you face a spouse with addiction issues, pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t the answer.

Reaching out for help is critical and often very difficult. Many spouses have shame and guilt connected to the situation. It can be hard to share family secrets and your own vulnerability.

You need to learn how to take care of yourself. Many people join twelve step groups, such as Al-Anon to figure out how to cope with an addicted love one. These groups are prevalent in most communities. Look in your local paper for locations near you.

You can also look at mental health clinics or practitioners who specialize in addiction. They will often have private groups you can join or will help you individually.

Through support, you will learn you are not alone. You will find comfort and reassurance. You will also find out how to take care of yourself. You can’t assist an addict or alcoholic if you haven’t figured out how to help yourself. Finally, you will develop strategies for helping your loved one.

You need to know you can not help someone if they don’t want help. Some families elect to stage an intervention with the addict. Interventions can take many formats. In one of the most common types of interventions, the family and friends gather with the addict to explain how their behaviors has impacted those around them. The goal of the intervention is for the addict to agree to go into a recovery program that has been prearranged.

Interventions can be an effective means of getting someone into a treatment program. These shouldn’t be orchestrated without professional help and advice.

Ultimately, the most important first step for a spouse of an alcoholic or addict is to reach out to others. It may be the most difficult step you ever take, but ultimately, it is the first step to freedom for you and the person you love.

About Cathy Severson

Cathy Severson helps baby boomers find more meaning and purpose in their lives and work. Get your copy of her complimentary e-book Guide to Retirement Activities a comprehensive look at work, volunteering and leisure based on an individuals’ personalities. Call for a complimentary 20-minute consultation to answer your most pressing concern. 928.775.4949 or email Cathy at

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