Husband of 23 Years Addicted

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My husband and I have been married 23 yrs and have 2 children together (1 -18yrs old still at home). He had back surgery 13 yrs ago and has been addicted to pain pills ever since. I’m so done! I have tried everything I can think of to help him, but he really doesn’t seem at all interested in changing and I’m at whit’s end. I’m so dead inside and our relationship is so empty – I’m really unhappy and unfulfilled. I have tried to leave him many, many times, but he never leaves me alone until I end up going back to him mostly because of our children. Now we have our 18 yr old son home, but he should be out on his own soon and my plan for a long time now has been to leave him asap. My kids are the only thing that has kept me here (other than the fact that my husband won’t let me go). We have grown so far apart from each other…we no longer even like the same things and I really have little desire to stay, even if he did change. I don’t know what to do…he makes me feel like I will ruin his entire life if I actually do get away from him. He suffers from pretty bad depression and has taken anti-depressants on/off since a child. All of his 5 brothers are also addicts (3 homeless due to drug abuse, enabling Mother). At his lowest, he would chew 13-60mg morphine every morning. He also drinks, smokes marijuana and would do almost anything, except shooting up (thank God). I am desperate to live my own life the way I want to live it and not be an emotional captive. Please help me!

A: It seems the details of your story, the feelings that have grown around the situation, and your level of frustration all point to one conclusion: It is time to leave.

It sounds like the thing to do is to plan for your separation. I encourage you to do three things: First, get a legal consult so that you know your rights and the best way to plan. Second, I would begin individual therapy. If you need a therapist, the “find help” tab at the top of the page can help you find one in your area. Finally, I would develop your support network of friends, family, and a divorce support group.

These measures can help you move through this difficult time.

I would also let your husband know that you would like it if the two of you could go for some couples counseling — not so much for reconciliation at this point, but more for helping through this transition.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Oct 2013

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Husband of 23 Years Addicted. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/10/19/husband-of-23-years-addicted/