When Marriages are Threatened by Addiction, Part 2

This is the final piece in a two-part series.

Overcoming any personal weakness takes patience, perseverance, and support. Defeating an addiction cannot be done alone.  If no action is taken to overcome an additcion, it will likely destroy one’s marriage and family.  But those same family members, as well as friends, religious leaders, and therapy groups all stand at the ready to help people out of addiction’s chains.  Here, we discussed how to recognize addiction, and what to expect from therapy for it.  Continuing to draw on research from several School of Family Life professors in their article “When Marriages Are Threatened By Addiction,” this piece elaborates on treatment as a method for overcoming addiction.

While a combination of different solutions is often the most effective, therapy is almost always a necessary component of addiction recovery.  Therapists are trained to help people cope and adjust to life weening from an addiction.  Therapists also have contacts to doctors and support groups to assist the addict in their journey to recovery.  In group therapy settings, others overcoming addiction can offer support and motivation to one another.  Therapy treatment should focus on:

  1. Abstinence
  2. Altering addictive patterns of thought and behavior
  3. Building spirituality

Abstinance is crucial for dangerous addictions, such as drugs and alchohol.  However, if someone is addicted to an activity or substance that is not appropriate to abstain from, like food, sex, spending, or work, these addicts should learn to exercise moderation.

Addictive patterns of thought include justification or entitlement towards the addiction. Jeffry H. Larson and LaNae Valentine, the authors of the article, elaborate: “People with addictions must learn to combat permission-giving beliefs suchas, ‘I worked hard today so I deserve to have a beer tonight,’ or ‘I can go on a spending spree or have an eating binge; I’ve earned it.'”  An important way to combat this type of thinking and action is to replace it with something constructive like learning a new hobby or a new way to reward yourself for a particular effort.  Bear in mind that big changes, like switching jobs, moving, or making new friends, may be necessary to help an addict.

Building spirituality has proven to be a healing balm to addiction, the authors note.  “Since addiction is fueled by a lack of meaning and purpose in life, the spiritual aspect of self-help porgrams can be an antidote,” says Washton and Boundy (1989, page 165).  There are many twelve-step recovery programs that offer group support, a sense of belonging, feedback, structure, a chance to help others, and mutual empathy, notes Larson and Valentine.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has adapted Alcoholics Anonymous’ twelve-step program to center recovery through trust in Jesus Christ.  The program encourages faith, repentance, good works, and humility. There are also support groups for the family and friends of addicts where they can learn how to assist their loved one and cope themselves.

Breaking the Chains

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, know there is help and a way out. Decades of research, practice, and treatments have been successful for many former addicts.  “Each one who resolves to climb that steep road to recovery must gird up for the fight of a lifetime. But a lifetime is a prize well worth the price,” encourages Elder Russsel M. Nelson.



Larson, Jeffry H., and LaNae Valentine. “When Marriages Are Threatened by Addiction.” Ed. Elaine Walton. Helping and Healing Our Families: Principles and Practices Inspired by the Family: A Proclamation to the World. Ed. Craig H. Hart, Lloyd D. Newell, and David C. Dollahite. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005. 96-100. Print.

Featured photo by Obra Shalom Campo Grande, on Flickr

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