My Husband Is Addicted to Pills

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband and I have been together since we were very young. Me 16, him 19. We are now 27 and 30 and have a 3yr old and 9month old. When we were younger, we pretty much did every drug imaginable together. I “grew up” and got over all that and he still has an addiction to pills, which didn’t start until about 4 years ago. He likes pain pills and xanex. But really he’ll snort whatever pill he can get his hands on. We have been going back and forth with this for 4 long years now. I’m at my witts end. It’s becoming clear to me by the things he says, “I can’t believe you won’t even let me do a xanex” that this is never going to change. He’s yet to seek professional help of any kind but has successfully quit the addiction to pain meds several times of the course of this 4 year period which I know for sure because I make him take drug tests. After about 4 months of being clean recently, he has come home high the last 3 days in a row. He’s a super great father to our children (and honestly he’s “better” when he’s high because the pills give him energy) and he supports us wholey on his own. He’s what you’d call a functioning addict. He is going to start seeing a drug counselor this week so we’ll see where this goes but I just don’t know what to do. I know with an addict, it’s a life long issue…no matter how long they’ve been clean. I used to always yell and scream at him and threaten to leave but I had a revelation in the recent months that I need to be supportive of him and try to help him instead of making myself so closed off. However, this isn’t helping either. It’s still the same stuff. What should I do. I’m considering divorce but I don’t just want to give up on him. I know his addiction is doing this and he trys so hard, but always falls back into it.

A: Neither one of you can go this alone. Sadly, the addiction is part of the fabric of your relationship. You both need counseling and support if things are going to change. I’m concerned that he is “better” when high. It’s possible that part of what drives the addiction is an undiagnosed or undertreated depression. If that’s the case, it’s important for him to deal directly with the depression as part of his treatment.

I also encourage the two of you to find an addictions counselor who is trained in couples therapy as well. (Not all addictions counselors are.) With 10 years and two children between you, I do think it’s worth taking a few months to see if you can work out a way to keep the family together while your husband explores why his habit is so important to him that he would risk losing his family rather than get into recovery.

You might personally find it helpful to talk to the folks at ProjectKnow.com This is a program that supports families of addicts. They run a 24/7 hotline at 866-531-8636.

Thank you for writing. Having gotten past the anger, you are in a good position to try becoming part of the treatment team.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Oct 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). My Husband Is Addicted to Pills. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/10/25/my-husband-is-addicted-to-pills/