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I Feel Like a Married Single Mom

woman drinking coffee looking out window

hope2006 has been through so many years of her Loved One’s use, the fabric of their relationship seems unraveled. She doesn’t know how to emerge from a state of resentment and hurt, after single-handedly keeping everything going through his years of use. Arguing daily, she wonders where the love and compassion went…

I had been a member or AIR about 10 years ago, but left when my husband finally got into treatment. I wasn’t here very long. It’s been 12 years of his addiction, we’ve been together 25 years, married 13. Most of my marriage and all of my sons 9 years of life have been spent living in this addiction. We got him into treatment 3 times, for a total of 120 days over the last 12 years. He is a completely lost soul, continuing to use every waking moment. He stops when he runs out of money. He has used every penny for drugs, over the last 4 years. A man who used to make $165,000 a year is broke, with rarely $5. I will not give him a penny, as I support the house, pay for everything to do with the house, vacations, my sons expenses, everything… often it’s like being a married single mom.

Thing is… I’ve been in this so long, a lot of the CRAFT strategies I see, I’ve used multiple times. He is so far deep after over a decade of heavy drug use, he is almost unreachable. Read this member’s full comment here.

Using CRAFT skills creates the best conditions around your husband. You’ve done this continuously, as best you can, for over a decade. It has helped your husband into treatment three times. Yet your husband has relapsed and continues to use. His use is quite dangerous. You describe a situation where your husband is in active addiction, home, and jobless, and you feel hopeless and resentful. You have young children who are living in this situation.

It has been up to you to keep everything together in the home. I envision a busy young family with dad on the couch, hunched over with guilt. You are working hard but the resentment and hurt is winning out.

This is completely understandable. There is so much optimism when a Loved One finally enters treatment. It is crushing when the treatment doesn’t lead to lasting abstinence and recovery. You know this better than most. It can take repeated efforts at recovery before traction is gained. It can be incremental in terms of time and it can play out differently depending on the specific drugs involved. It is infuriating and dumbfounding when your Loved One returns to active use.

The first step is to get yourself into a better state regardless of what your husband is doing. Can you find and pay for a psychotherapist willing to work with you, who is also willing to pull in your husband and children as necessary? You want a good family counselor who understands addiction. Your children need a way to talk about their father’s illness.

Where are you geographically? Use the email on this site if you would prefer to keep this private.

Can we help you find a family support group in your area? AlAnon can help in this instance, since it is designed to help you focus on you. With AlAnon, you’ll need to put aside the talk of “he has to hit bottom,” or “disengage until he stops.” Take what you need from the support it offers to address your own needs. Right now, you are the number one priority.

Pull back and fill your own tank. Forget about working CRAFT right now. Your actions are halfhearted at best anyway. You are too upset and exhausted.

We are here. One step at a time right now.

The next step is to get your husband back into treatment, starting almost certainly with a detoxification program. Your situation is urgent (I take it your husband is injecting opioids). This is a case where a civil commitment or interventionist could be  called for. Let’s get to work on this in the next couple weeks.  

You have done a monumental job of holding it all together over these years. It has taken enormous love and compassion – I hear this in the way you describe your husband’s situation. You still have this in you. But right now, the person who needs this more than anything is you. Don’t judge yourself for whatever feelings you experience about your husband, about this painful situation. Step back and commit to reestablishing your own health and well-being. Whatever comes next, you have our support.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Wow, I feel what you are talking about. I find it hard feeling like I am in it alone, doing all the housekeeping, bill paying, working, child care and living. It is so hard to watch my husband and be so angry and still try to provide rewards when he is sober in short moments. I worry so much about my I children and the impact on them. I have a “happy plan” that is my plan for how to manage our debt and bills and how long it will take to get out of financial trouble so that it is not a factor in whether or not I can continue to live in this relationship. I love my husband so much and I worry about him so much. Thank you for sharing. It is so hard to live with this and try to work the CRAFT method.