Wednesday April 16th 2014

Should I stay with my addicted or alcoholic husband?

Are you the wife of an alcoholic or addict? Comment below and provide your email for a chance to win Michelle’s Love Over Addiction program.  We want to hear from you!

Choosing to stay with an addicted spouse

By Michelle Lisa Anderson

It is so difficult to watch the man you love slowly kill himself. You love him deeply and the idea of ever leaving him seems almost impossible. What would you do without him? Where would you go? How would you survive? And besides, isn’t that cruel? To turn your back on someone who is slowly killing themselves.

Besides, he is not bad all the time. Every now and then you see a glimmer of hope of he man you feel in love with. The charming, thoughtful, and kind man you know he was created to be. How could you walk away from the man you know he can become?

Here is the truth: you can’t leave him. Not really. But you know in your soul that being with him is damaging yours. You have family and friends telling you to leave him and asking you, “How can you put up with that?”. And a part of you knows they are right. Because in those dark moments of despair when he lies passed out or didn’t come home again, you feel crazy for staying.

You can’t leave him because you are still protecting him. You still pick up after him, do his laundry, make his appointments. Everyday you balance the role of mother and lover, depending on his mood and needs.

And his needs always come first. When he is upset or angry – you stop everything to take care of him. To nurture him. A part of you loves to feel needed., to pick up the pieces for him hoping to get some recognition and an apology.

Start your own recovery

So don’t leave. Not today or even tomorrow. Forgive yourself for not doing what everyone is telling you to do, and stay with him. Keep loving him. But if you ever want to be able to feel some sense of self worth you must start your own recovery and end co-addiction.

He is not the only one who needs treatment. His drinking and drug use is not just his issue to solve. It’s yours too. You are codependent. And that makes you an enabler. Don’t believe me? When you nag him or yell at him – you are feeding this horrible disease that is taking over your life. You are enabling. When you give him the silent treatment and refuse to talk to him until he tells you what you want to hear – you are enabling.

Yes, you are sick too. And anyone who has spent one second in your shoes would be too. This is an awful disease that takes over the life’s of the man who is drinking and using drugs and from those who love him.  If you are asking yourself when to leave an addict, the answer might be that it’s time for you to get help.

You are not alone and there is hope for a bright, joyful future. But if you want different results you must start making different choices. Your health and spiritually must come first. When you start setting healthy boundaries your self-esteem will improve. It’s important to remember your dreams and

So, let’s agree that we are not going to focus on staying or leaving because we both know that it’s just not that simple. Instead, let’s choose to put our needs, dreams and health first. Let’s focus on ourselves and not his drinking. Make a commitment that your recovery will come first. You can’t control if he drinks or uses drugs but you can control your reactions.

Stay or leave?

Please leave your story or questions about living with an addicted husband below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

Photo credit: Gregory Jordan

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15 Responses to “Should I stay with my addicted or alcoholic husband?
Tulip Dsouza
5:57 pm August 2nd, 2013

have stayed-been through the rehab therapy and family meetings n in addition I am a nurse- so I Didn’t Do What others advised me to do- I used tough love n showed myself to be tougher- but in the end internally I am left hurting more than ever- everytime his siblings help him
out financially n also pay for his treatments n when he is out n sober- it is me n our 2 (now) teenage children who have 2 pretend like everything has been wiped clean n all is right with the world.I am concentrating now more on ‘myself’ n ot what pple expect of me- the questions i am asked -are you working yet? not got a job yet? heck with so many yrs away frm my job as a nurse if i am not offered a post when i apply for a job -is it my fault?! I stay busy doing all myhousework,looking after my children’s needs and this experience has got me growing spiritually -so i am involved in community work and church activities—Anything I am doing wrong? Anything more I should be doing? our marital relationship is not repaired- simply because once he is out of rehab- he does not go through the 12 steps prog that involve ‘making good with those we hurt”- so I can’t force him n just focus on seeing my children heal so that their future is not scarred by all they have had to see n endure-
Have no questions just want to say I AM THERE FOR EACH ONE GOING THROUGH THIS and praying that each one will see that day when all the advise given to codependents will not just be advise but will be a truth we can work through and find peace for ourselves.God bless all who work in suipport teams and family Anon

3:53 pm August 6th, 2013

Almost eleven years of loving an alcoholic. He started drinking heavily when he moved to his parents’ farm, with which they requested his help, and I stayed in the county where we both had lived. I didn’t see it developing, had no experience with alcoholism.

We got engaged and I thought the heavy drinking would slow when we married and I moved to the farm, with intentions to buy it and provide for his family. That never happened. Eventually, I learned to see the codependency in his family and we moved, after eight years, a few miles away.

Last year, my denial shattered. I have spent hours in counseling and attend Al-Anon meetings. I am finishing a college course on alcohol and other addictions. I am completing certification in teaching yoga to recovering addicts and their loved ones. Though my finances and credit score have taken a huge hit, I hope to be able to earn my PsyD in psychology, a life goal. My highest priority is taking care of our children and raising them to be healthy which, of course, means becoming healthier myself.

Kyzcy Hawk ‘s recent blog post led me here and I am so glad.

8:22 pm August 9th, 2013

Everything is vibrational energy & when someone remains with another who exhibits addictive energy, it affects everything around the addict. Leaving my x-husband even though I still loved him brought me a greater peace and love of myself. It was the best gift I could have allowed myself to receive.

Michelle Lisa Anderson
12:53 am August 15th, 2013


I am so sorry for you pain. Two teenage children and an alcoholic husband. You must feel exhausted. Do you know that nurses are one of the top two professions for codependency? It makes sense when you think about it.

So, it sounds like you are on the right track. You are volunteering, growing spiritually, and taking responsibility for your actions. Well Done!

I will be praying for you Tulip!

Michelle Lisa Anderson

Michelle Lisa Anderson
1:00 am August 15th, 2013


I LOVE your comment. You sound like such a strong and courageous woman! Your PsyD – how fantastic!! I am sure you will be an inspiration to many. I would love to send you my program FOR FREE called Love Over Addiction. It has every tool, technique and helpful tip I learned in therapy, al anon, research and meeting with top rehabilitation facilities. I hope you find it helpful Rina.

Again, well done! Look at how something that seemed so bad turned out to be a blessing.

Michelle Lisa Anderson

Michelle Lisa Anderson
1:02 am August 15th, 2013


I remember feeling such freedom leaving him once and for all. I am so glad you feel the same.

Michelle Lisa Anderson

5:54 am August 16th, 2013

I’d very much like to read/listen/learn your work. Thank you for the kind offer! I am taking the semester off of class to clarify some financial things and work out aid details. This would be a perfect time to add some personal time.

1:16 am September 7th, 2013

My husband is addicted to Crack. He was for 30 years. (before I knew him) He is now 55. I am soon to be 55. When I met him 3 years ago, he had been clean for 5 years. I didn’t even know he was addicted to anything, After a couple weeks of seeing him, he told me of his past. He also told me that he would NEVER let himself get back into his addiction again, I was so Naive to the drug world that I believed him. I was never a drug user. He asked me to marry him and I did. For the first year he was fine. Worked hard and came right home after work. No sign of any problems. After one year of marriage, he got back into his addiction. He doesn’t care what it costs us. After he gets high, he knows I am angry with him and makes all kinds of promises and acts like he is really sorry. He also says he doesn’t know why he does it and that he hates himself for it.

He was away most of the week for work and stated all week that he just wanted to be home with me. He gets away from work today and you would think he would hurry home to me, but nope, he went and bought crack and got high. Now he is angry with me because “I have an attitude”. I want out of all this so bad. i want to buy a new home. i work my butt of for it and I can’t have it because he spends alot of money on crack. We make alot of money from my business. (He works in the business) but we barely save anything because he spends about $400.00 -$600.00 everytime he goes. He does it about once or twice a week.

I don’t want drugs in my world. He knew how I felt about that before we became engaged an promised me it would never happen. My father was an alcoholic and I couldn’t stand that.. I grew up in an unstable home becuase of my father and now I have to deal with my husband’s addiction. I love him but I want out of all this. Am I wrong? People tell me this is a disease. If he had a another disease would I leave hm. No, but I feel drugs and alcohol are very different. I also have a hard time buying it that this is a disease. To me a disease is something that just happens to you beyond your control. Addiction to alcohol or drugs is a choice that they made.

11:28 am September 13th, 2013

Hi Michele. I suggest that you speak with an addictions counselor to sort out your feelings and to create a plan. You can then plan an intervention and set boundaries: your husband should seek help or you’re out of there.

Cheryl B.
3:02 am October 25th, 2013

I’ve been married to my husband almost 23yrs, my husband recently got out of treatment in July 2013 but has relapse for the past 3 weeks of continuous drinking. Last night we talked for a good hour and he basically said that he does not want to stop drinking and that I need to decide if I want to stay married to him that I would have to accept his drinking and not nag him cause it causes him anxiety and stress. We both suffer from depression and are medicated. Today I found him bitter, angry and severely depressed after him drinking 6 beers while I was at work. I honestly don’t know what to do. A part of me thinks I should leave and the other part of me wants to stay. We fight constantly, we fight about our pasts and his affairs. What should I do?

1:12 am November 14th, 2013

Quite honestly.. if someone will leave you because your an addict or if you will leave someone because they are an addict then there was never love, just lust. Ive been on both sides amazingly and addiction can actually be a good thing to make your 2 halves a whole. It inspires soul searching but at the end of the day if you cant or refuse to stop then the person must accept it as part of you or leave. Addiction is not a choice.. make no mistake. Its a terrible life destroying disease.. but the addict did not choose to addicted

9:43 pm February 17th, 2014

I have been married for over 9 years to an opiate addict. He was not an addict when we married or when we had our son. This has been over the past 4 years that he has become an addict. In the beginning it got so bad that he stole all of my jewelry and other personal items and pawned them for money for pills. He has been to detox 3 or 4 times, meetings, jail and rehab. I am not sure he has ever made it a year clean but, he always goes back. I would not ever question staying or leaving if I did not have a son with this man. I have no love or respect left for him and probably never will but, I do not want to hurt my son. He now after 3 years of not working or helping pay bills has a job. He keeps money for his pills but, does help pay bills now. I do my own thing, just earned my associates and am working on my bachelors, I also work two jobs and take care of my 8 year old. The only enabling I do is not throwing him out on his but, I do not dwell on what he does and doesn’t do, I think about it but, I never let it stop me from what I want in life and who I want to be. At this point I am not sure if my son would be better off without him or is that wishful thinking on my part. My son comes first, I do not need someone in my life to succeed and make me happy, I do just fine on my own with my son.

3:59 pm February 18th, 2014

My husband and I found a WONDERFUL place for him to get treatment and he is there now by the Grace of God. The place he is at is all Christian Based. We are both Christians so we wanted a place that would not just “dry him out” and turn him loose. This place is a 4 month BIBLE based addiction recovery and IT WORKS!! So many men who have graduated from there have been clean and sober for many years. Their marriages have been restored also. I am so very happy and see a major change in my husband after only 35 days. He will be there until May 11th, when he graduates. They have a program called “Woman of Character” for the wives of these men too. We don’t stay there but they work with us and counsel us also, if we want it. That part is our choice but I am doing the Woman of Character Program and it is very good. I am finding things out about myself and my eyes are opened to the fact that I am not perfect and some of the things I need to change to make my husband succeed in staying clean. Addictions come in many forms not just drugs or Alcohol. We ALL have addictions. Maybe they are not “illegal” ones but we all have them. I love this prgram and the people who run it. I wouldn’t want my husband anywhere else. I have now moved away from the idea of divorce and we are restoring our marriage. One thing I have found out in all this is how much my husband truly loves me and how much I truly love him. With the drugs gone he is an incredible person. But I always knew that deep down inside. This program is NOT easy. It is VERY intense and they take all distractive things away. The program is FREE except for an application fee of $240.00. They do put the men on a work program while they are there.. I think it kind of makes them “earn their keep” but it also keeps them busy instead of them sitting around like they are in a hospital. My husband LOVES it there and LOVES what it is doing for him and for “us”. They have a VERY high success rate. I went to visit my husband for the first time in 33 days and I could hardly recognize his personality. He is so different but in a very good way. I am so very proud of him. He agreed to go there very easily. He did want the help. The place he is at is called America’s Keswick. It is in New Jersey. No secular program can do what this program does. My husband has done a couple “regular” rehabs and they failed. I know other people who have done them too and they are EXTREMELY expensive and the only stayed clean for a short time and are “back to it” again. When I was at America’s Keswick this past weekend I saw and met NUMEROUS couples where the husband had addictions for so many years and have now been drug and alcohol free for years since their graduation. And the great thing is they actually say this miss America’s Keswick and the people there so they come back to visit and stay for weekends. it is also a Christian Retreat Center and Campground so people that have been through the recovery program bring their families back for little vacations. I can’t say enough about it. I am just so happy we found it and my husband is FINALLY getting the help he needs and so am I. I miss him so much and cannot wait to stand next to him at his graduation.

4:27 am March 24th, 2014

Oh my god.. These stories are so sad. And really put the past 10 years of my life with a drunk into perspective. My husband has been an ‘alcohol addict’ since he was a teen. he’s now 40. We met when I was 15, and he was 30. I really didn’t know how to deal with what was going on with him and we ended up going on a crazy roller coaster ride for the past 10 years due to his ‘addiction’. I’ll trl you what though, he would start and stop drinking when he wanted. It might be a strong urge but these people either have a conscience and willpower or thr Don’t. It’s taken me this long to realize it, thru living this horrible life, that my husband was too selfish to do what he needed to do for himself and his family. Anyone who stays with these pieces of Crap are choosing to make noth only their lives as miserable as the addict’s, but dragging their children thru a horrible upbringing that will no doubt give them serious psychological issues later in life. Eeryone I have Ever known that grew up in one of these households, grew up resenting their parent for their weakness and staying, not having enough love for themself and their child and giving them a Better life..and these kids either grow up and become addicts themselves or grow up thinking its normal to live with one. I left my addicy a month ago and I never knew I could feel so alive and liberated and free, and that there’s still hope. You can still love these addicts, but you’re stupid to stay with them. You only live ONCE. Dont waste your life like these idiots.

2:42 pm March 25th, 2014

My husband and I have been together for 14 years and he have been married for 11 years. We have 3 children together. He has been addicted to weed for over 20 years (smoked 24-7). During our marriage I have asked him stop on many occasions. I have tried to enlist the help of his friends and family (no one really helped though; they offered some suggestions, but mainly laughed it off). In addition, to his weed addiction, he has been verbally and emotionally abusive (and a few times physical). He also has had on-line affairs and emotional affairs with various women. He has also been fired for sexual harassment. I have stuck by him through all of it. However, in January, I told him I could no longer live with his pot-smoking and it was putting me and our children in danger. He did not handle the news well and he became very self-destructive and abusive. He threatened suicide on several occasions, he has spread nasty rumors about me, gossiped to everyone we know (including my safe zones… work and my family) and was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive. He created a new bank account for himself and took money out of ours and he also contacted several lawyers. His family is full of attorneys so they drafted several threatening separation agreements and shared parenting agreements. His family was not supportive of me at all and bullied me. Finally, after seeing a text to another woman that was sexual and flirty I had reached my boiling point. In response to me finding the text, he cut his chest about 25 times with a pocket knife. After a long dramatic 3 months he has decided to go to rehab. During these three months, I have attended counseling, read books, attended A-ALON meetings and I am going to peer groups and counseling for domestically abused woman. I was ready to meet with a lawyer but my counselor has suggested I wait until after he goes through rehab to file for divorce. I don’t feel like I want to stand by his side anymore. There has been so much damage. I am not sure my feelings for him will ever return. He is begging me to stay with him and is very much in love with me. I told him I would not meet with a lawyer until after he returned from rehab and after a month of being separated. I am not sure this is something I want to do. I feel like getting on my with my life but I feel selfish for feeling this way. I have been taking care of him for so long now.

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