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How to Talk to Your Husband about Addiction

Oct 15, 2023

Due to the complex relationship dynamics involved, a communication breakdown in a marriage where one partner is battling addiction can be particularly difficult. Denial and avoidance, a lack of trust, and blame and resentment can all be factors affecting your ability to have healthy, productive exchanges with your spouse. In this blog post, learn how to understand your communication style, what to say, and what to avoid saying to talk to your husband about addiction.

No one starts a marriage expecting to add “talk to husband about addiction” on a to-do list. If your spouse has reached a point where substance use creates harm in their relationship with you, it’s important to understand how you approach talking to them can help or hinder their understanding of the problems caused by their addiction. When starting conversations about this topic, find a place that is peaceful, private, and welcoming for the chat. Be patient, too. Taking responsibility for addiction doesn’t typically happen in one conversation.

What’s Your Communication Style?

Marriages depend on effective communication, and there are a variety of communication styles spouses commonly use to express themselves and manage their relationships. Couples can improve their communication and conflict resolution skills by being aware of these styles. Look at the following list of communication styles and see if you recognize the one you use most often when talking to your spouse.

Assertive Communication: Clear and courteous expression of one’s opinions, feelings, needs, and boundaries characterizes assertive communication. It can be honest and open, with both partners’ feelings and viewpoints being respected. In assertive communication, people own their emotions and speak for themselves using “I” statements.

Passive Communication: Being unable to express ideas, emotions, or demands is a defining characteristic of passive communication. Passive people may try their hardest to avoid conflict, which frequently results in unspoken grudges and unfulfilled demands. They may find it difficult to make their opinions known, or they might stop talking completely.

Aggressive Communication: When someone communicates aggressively, they use force, dominance, or hostility to convey their ideas, feelings, and demands. They may use accusations and personal insults as weapons in a conversation. Aggressive communication may result in frequent disagreements, hurt feelings, and harm to the relationship.

Passive-Aggressive Communication: Indirect and frequent expression of rage or dissatisfaction through veiled activities is typical in passive-aggressive communication. Passive-aggressive people might use sarcasm, snark, or nonverbal clues to express their annoyance rather than speak up openly.

Transactional Communication: Instead of emphasizing an emotional connection, transactional communication focuses on the exchange of information or goods. It typically places minimal value on emotional expression or connection and is more task-oriented. Although it can be helpful for managing some parts of a relationship, relying on it heavily can lead to a feeling of distance in a marriage.

Nonverbal Communication: Gestures, body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions are all examples of nonverbal communication. They can communicate feelings and intentions that might not be verbally communicated. Understanding the whole context of a discussion requires paying close attention to nonverbal signs.

Starting the Conversation

It might be difficult to talk to your husband about addiction, but doing so is an essential first step in assisting them in seeking help and treatment. The topic must be approached with sensitivity, compassion, and a focus on support. Find a place that is peaceful, private, and welcoming for the chat.

Do’s & Don’ts of Addiction Conversations

Don’t Rely on Observations of Others: Avoid comparing your husband’s substance use to that of other people’s spouses.

Do Educate Yourself: Actively seek out information about how substances affect people, what factors contribute to addiction, and what resources for treatment are available in your area.

Don’t Use Accusations: Avoid starting the conversation with “Your drinking problem is the reason our marriage is in trouble.”

Do Express Concern: Begin by expressing your love and concern for your spouse. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and observations without blame or judgment.

Don’t Personally Attack: Avoid using the conversation to list the perceived faults of your spouse and bring up unrelated issues.

Do Express Your Feelings: Share how your spouse’s addiction affects you emotionally, physically, mentally, and in other ways.

Don’t Enable Them: Avoid enabling behaviors, such as making excuses for them or covering up their substance use consequences, as it may unintentionally communicate your support for your spouse’s addiction.

Do Set Boundaries: Make it very clear what actions are not allowed and what may happen if boundaries are not respected.

Don’t Rush the Process: Avoid making ultimatums and setting a timeline for your spouse’s choice to start treatment.

Do Be Patient: Recognize that relapse is a part of the recovery journey and continue to offer support and encouragement daily.

Importance of Self-Care

Physical, emotional, and mental health needs can be addressed when supporting a husband with addiction. Self-care activities help you develop emotional resilience and healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress, anxiety, and other emotions.

Daily self-care can prevent you from feeling burned out, too. Setting personal boundaries is one form of self-care and can be seen in how you nurture your own interests and goals while supporting your loved one. It’s important to remember demonstrating self-reliance and independence is a way to model healthy behaviors for your husband to see.

Getting Help for You and Your Spouse

Keep in mind that addiction is a complicated and difficult topic, and your spouse might not react well to your initial discussion. It could take some time for them to realize they need support and care. Your goal isn’t to compel them to get into treatment, though. Stay focused on encouraging them to recognize the issues of substance use for themselves and prepare for the kind of intervention they may need. Even when they show a willingness to start treatment, you can remain a fundamental part of the recovery journey by participating in family therapy sessions in confidential settings as part of the men’s residential addiction program at Origins Recovery Center.


Origins Recovery Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-232-3833.

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