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When a Spouse is Battling Demons

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Moms can end up making an unfair choice between being there for her spouse and doing what's best for her kids.


TMZ reports today that Michelle had been trying to help Heath battle addictions before his untimely death in January.

This got the Moms in the office talking about how difficult it can be to love someone battling drug abuse issues, especially when you have children. One Mom we know was married for 11 years to a drug addict and alcoholic, and they had two kids together.

She often says she really had three kids, because her husband required more care and looking after than her two children combined. Our friend eventually left her husband, but she says it was the hardest thing she ever had to do: "I knew that leaving could send him into a downward spiral, and he might even overdose without me there to look after him, but I couldn't subject my kids to his addiction any longer."

If our friend no longer enabled her husband, would tragedy follow? She rolled the dice, and luckily so far (three years later) her ex is okay. But if it had gone the other way, our friend says she probably wouldn't have been able to forgive herself. "I knew if he OD'ed, I would blame myself for the rest of my life," she says. "Even though the only person who could truly save him was himself, I always liked to believe I could rescue him from his demons. I spent over 11 years trying to rescue him."

Angelyn Miller, M.A., author of The Enabler: When Helping Hurts the One You Love, says, "Once a woman has kids, she starts looking at her children and wondering whether this life is going to be good for them. They didn't choose this path. The children begin to take precedence over the addict, and the woman's allegiance often shifts."

Our heart breaks for any woman who loves an addict but not his addiction. Have you loved (or are you currently in love with) a spouse who battles demons? Have you helped a friend through this situation? Share your story in the Mom•Logic Community.

next: The Family that Pees Together...
19 comments so far | Post a comment now
upstate mommy June 9, 2008, 10:32 AM

’m 31 w/son 6 & daug. 2. Husband (now hub)of 7 years recently caught for drug addiction to Lortab Fentanyl & some cocaine. I saw small signs so I tracked finances, cell phone records & his whereabouts (we own our own business together!).

1-1/2 mths ago my parents realized that meds were missing from their house, someone went through their closet,drawers,etc. Dad has med. issues & has these scripts. A few days later I found a wrapper from one of my fentanyl patches (morphine) in my car. These stay in a lock box in the house b/c of the kids, babysitters, etc. My hub confessed to that & the pills from my parents house. He admitted abusing for past two yrs. He would change my fentanyl patch & fake flushing it, cut it up & chew pcs until next changing. He admitted to stealing from me, my parents, our customers, buying from friends & buying cocaine some & using at home while we were having family time. I am NOT stupid or naive & did my share of partying in college but grew up. We went to a counselor the next day, started NA, got a sponsor & I thought we were on the right track.

A week later my “hub” was supposed to pick up our daughter from preschool as I was at “end of the year field day” w/son. About 30 minutes after pick-up time I called my hub cell mult. times w/no answer & called school to be told he had not shown up. I rushed to get her & my father went down to my house to make sure that everything was okay. My “hub” was asleep. I had dad tell him to pack & leave before I got home w/ the kids. I called him soon after, met & took him for drug test. Negative urine test and a hair test showing significant codine, lortab, morphine. He came home w/agreement to random hair tests. He cont. daily NA & once again I thought that we were on the right track.

3 weeks later (last Mon.) I got a call from my mother - more lortab were missing. I drove where my hub. was working and asked for pills. He denied until I told him that they had it on video. I called his NA sponsor & an addiction specialist to see the next day. Prior to the relapse my “crisis management plan” was unwavering. Consequence for relapse was leaving our family home. Now the time was there I didn’t want that to happen. My plan was sound but omitted emotion. I LOVE My husband, he is an amazing father & a caring man, But, I know I can’t allow this behavior in our home. We saw the addiction counselor & he said he would like to work with hub. to evaluate, build platform for sobriety & then would give me his input. FYI this man is a former felon for drug dist., a recovering addict, after prison went to school & is finishing his 2nd doctorate in this field. He can see through the “Bull S***”.

Now I have my family (very close-in proximity & emotionally) & they don’t want to see or speak to my hub…understandably are very angry and hurt as they care a lot about him. This adds huge strain to me too.

To summarize my duties: mother of 2; full-time business owner (office@home w/daily sitters);wife of addict w/severe ADD-can’t be treated w/medication b/c of addiction; daughter to VERY intense mother w/lots of anger & blame placed on any & all she can - esp. me if possible); daughter to father w/MAJOR med. probs and meds managed bipolar-still has ups and downs & calls me to talk,help,fix,etc; sister to 28yr brother w/no job or motivation but perfect in eyes of parents (when brother needs money he drives across state to work for me for little more than a paycheck); and last (wish I could say “but not least”) I have severe fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, 2 bulging discs, anxiety, and depression. Added stress causees a daily pain level to go from a “3” to a “9”.

My currently amended “plan” is to give it until 8/1. My hub will have another hair test (levels must decrease), remain sober w/no relapses, attend daily NA, work steps w/sponsor & me to have positive meeting w/his addiction counselor. Then I have to make a decision about our marriage and family. My hope is that everything gets better but the relapse rate (esp. w/ ADD) is high. In the meantime I have to make my back-up plan incl. a full time job, childcare, a transition plan - the least painful for my children, living accommodations for hub so he’s still involved in kids lives, etc. ONE of the hard parts is remaining positive during this time until 8/1 while preparing for the worst!!

I have few people to talk to & would love to start a local (upstate SC) & online support group/discussion group/etc w/others in this situation. It helps to talk w/people that understand. Anyone interested can contact me ~ Thanks for Listening!

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Jill May 24, 2009, 11:53 AM

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