This is How to Help Your Spouse Overcome Addiction

11 October, 2020
Q I am in a marriage with a drug user and alcohol drinker. He has been physically and mentally abusive.

He is getting worse day by day despite me giving him chances to fix everything. Some nights he never comes home till early morning.

We have a 3-year-old and it comes to a point where I can no longer cope with it because I'm always sad and depressed. What shall I do?

I have tried for over 4 years.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

  • Broadly, in such situation, either you can try a different approach to addressing the problem or if you cannot take it anymore then you can make plans to leave the relationship.
  • Either way, there are a number of things to consider.
  • Most importantly, you are advised to pray istikhara that Allah (swt) will guide you to make the best decision about what step to take next.

As-Salamu ’Alaikum wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh sister,

You have been patient and tried to give your husband a chance to overcome his toxic addiction, but unfortunately, it seems he is not changing despite being given the chance to make these much-needed changes.

Not only does he have a problem with haram substances, but it is now severely impacting on your relationship as he stays out late. This is a psychological burden on you, especially as you have a young child together.

This is How to Help Your Spouse Overcome Addiction - About Islam

Drug abuse

The effects of addiction to alcohol and drugs can cause the user to behave in irresponsible ways. This is exactly why Allah (swt) forbids the use of intoxicants. Unfortunately, you are seeing and experiencing this first hand.

„O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone alters [to other than Allah ], and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.” (Qur’an, 5:90)

At this point, you say you can no longer cope. There are a couple of different routes you could try from now depending on how you feel and the steps you have taken so far with him.

Stay

Despite your despair in the relationship, if you choose to stay in the relationship, what you can do is to try taking new approaches to helping him to overcome his addiction. 

Encourage him to attend a recovery program. This will not only give him the chance to be with professional who have experience in dealing wth addiction, but it will also give you a break from his behavior too. If he is willing to attend such programs then you can be quite confident that he truly is committed to changing his behavior.


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Approach him

Approach him when he is sober and let him know how worried you are about him and how his behavior is affecting you. Ask him how he wants you to support him. Often, when friends or family or going through a crisis, we tend to assume that we know best how to support them, but this is not always the way they want to support. By asking him directly you will know exactly how it is that you can best support him to overcome his addictions.

More drastically, scare him of the physical effects of an addiction. Warn him about the serious effects these substances can have on his body, such as heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and in the worst case death. No Muslim want to die and meet their Lord in a state of intoxication. Sometimes people with an addiction get so caught up in their addiction that they don’t realize or forget about the damage they are doing to their body.

Encourage him to pray and fast as a protection from his addictions. Do these things in his presence that he may look to you as a role model and be more likely to do the same.

„Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” (Qur’an, 29:45)

Support system

If you know why he started using in the first place, try to work on this by supporting him with emotions attached to this trigger. If you feel that there is something in particular that seems to have triggered his addictions, then you might encourage him to get counseling to deal with the underlying issue that will, in turn, help him to overcome his addictions.

Often addiction counselors will work with the family alongside the client. This would support you in how to assist your husband to remain away from his addiction once he is in the process of recovery.

If it is simply a way that he gets pleasure, then you can encourage him to get pleasure from more healthy sources, beginning with Islam. 

Invite friends and their husbands to your house regularly. Perhaps, he’ll be more inclined to stop drinking and taking drugs to avoid the embarrassment of being intoxicated in front of others.

Talk to your local imam about the situation so that he himself might approach your husband and address it with him from an Islamic perspective.

You need to understand and be prepared that overcoming an addiction does take time and will require patience. However, if he succeeds, the reward for all of your will be immense.

„And be patient, for indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.” (Qur’an, 11:115)

With every step he takes in the right direction, praise his achievements. This will help him to feel supported and more encouraged to continue to make positive changes.

Forgive

If you choose to stick around, you should be prepared to forgive his present mistakes; otherwise, you will continue to harbor hard feelings towards him which will impact on the relationship, even beyond his recovery.

“Overcoming an addiction does take time and will require patience.”
“Overcoming an addiction does take time and will require patience.”

Try to see things from his perspective and understand what it feels like to have an addiction. For example, you might feel there are times that you really need a sugary snack, and maybe as a child, less able to control yourself, you might have had a tantrum because you wanted this sugary snack so much. Remembering such things will make it easier for you to understand how he feels. This will put you in a better position to think about the alternative, more helpful ways to help him.

  • Look at your own behavior towards him. It may be that you are unintentionally enabling his addiction. For example, if you give him a hard time about staying out late, then this may only encourage him to continue to stay out late to avoid confrontation.
  • Amongst all this, make sure to take care of yourself. What you are going through is clearly taking its toll on you emotionally, so be sure to keep active socially and maintain some kind of hobby that to give your psychological well-being a boost.

Leaving

If you have tried all you can and feel that you have exhausted all options but nothing seems to work and you feel you cannot remain in this relationship any longer, you might decide to leave the relationship completely. If you choose this option, there are some things that you should also consider to make it as easy as possible:

  • Get the support of friends and family for the sake of your own health and your daughter’s exposure to unacceptable behaviors. This will assist in making any transitions more smooth as you are doing so with the support of others.
  • Do not engage in any self-blame. Remember that his addiction was not your fault. You have endured it for a long time and tried your best to assist him.
  • Continue to fulfill all your duties as a Muslim and find comfort in the Mercy of Allah (swt) to guide you through these difficult times successfully.

„For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (Qur’an, 94:5)

  • Take up a hobby to give your self-esteem a boost. Be socially active to protect you from the effects of depression and everything you would face as part of a relationship ending.

Istikhara

Ultimately, the best thing you can do right now to guide you in making the best decision in what to do is to pray istikharah. Ask Allah (swt) to guide you to do the thing that will be best for you all and most pleasing to Him. This will help you to move forward with your choice of action in the confidence that you are doing what you are for the sake of Allah (swt).

Overall, due to the amount of difficulty that you have been facing presently, you have reached a breaking point and feel you can cope no more. There are a number of options you could consider at the point; broadly, either you can try a different approach to addressing the problem with him, or if you cannot take it anymore then you can make plans to leave the relationship. Either way, there are a number of things to consider. Most importantly, you are advised to pray istikhara that Allah (swt) will guide you to make the best decision about what step to take next.

May Allah (swt) guide your husband to overcome his addiction. May He (swt) continue to give you patience and guide you to make the best decision about how to manage your situation.

Amen,

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Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)