Most people view addiction as a disease that has the potential to destroy every aspect of a person’s life. But, does every aspect of a person’s life have to be threatened in order for an individual to be considered an addict?  We have all heard of the classification of functional addict or in slang terms the weekend warrior, or perhaps in your case, the weeknight warrior.

It’s a difficult marriage.  You know that all of the hemming and hawing will not change your spouse’s perception of him or herself.  Your spouse may believe that there is nothing wrong with their addiction.  They have a job – they are doing well at work.  The saving grace is that the functioning addict usually defines themselves by what they do for a living (their job) and losing that would be just as bad as never drinking or using again.  They walk a fine line.   But, at the end of the day, you do not have an emotionally contributing partner or an involved parent for your children.

The functioning addict is endlessly searching for the party – for the fun! They enjoy the buzz and the high.  And as you witness this, you may come to the realization that your love cannot satiate your spouse’s need for intoxication, spontaneity, or child-like fun.  You may come to the realization that you are acting as the parent and that your spouse is acting like the child.

You and your spouse will have responsibilities that have been derived from the marriage, such as homeownership or rent, bills and childrearing.  This is real life and the pressures of real life may cause your spouse to succumb to their addiction, even if they had good intentions to attain sobriety.

No one can “love someone better”.  Other’s opinions or desires for anyone to break a bad habit is never enough. The addict has to want to change. The addict has to want a sober life.

So, let’s talk about you.

Things you need to know:

  1. YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME. Your functioning addict may blame every possible thing as being the cause for their addiction instead of blaming themselves.  They may say that their addiction is caused by stress from the children, their job, lack of money, dealing with an ex-spouse or in-laws – the list goes on and on.  The goal is to remove yourself from the cycle and remind yourself that the addict has no other choice than to blame someone/something else.
  2. YOU CANNOT LOVE SOMEONE INTO SOBRIETY. We have almost all been there – we usually overlook certain aspects of someone’s personality because we love them, or maybe we didn’t notice right away. What may have looked like a fun time during your courtship, now looks like its threatening your marriage.   You may be thinking “If he/she really loves me they will stop”.  But, love has nothing to do with the way an addict’s brain functions – the addict is driven by dependency, not love.  The addict has to decide when he or she will fight to overcome this dependency.
  3. LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TO WALK AWAY. So, you know that you are not the reason or the cure by this point.  Will leaving your spouse make them hit rock bottom?  Not necessarily.  Rock-bottom is different for everyone.  If you are ready, be prepared to leave and stay gone.  It’s your spouse’s choices that have brought you both here.  Your spouse will eventually have to own that, just as you have to own your choices.

Trust the little voice inside of you that is sick of the cycle – that voice that knows it has had enough.  Enabling and being co-dependent will help neither of you.  Be strong and remember that love begins with you- loving yourself first.