A Wife’s Story: Hope in the Face of a Drug Epidemic
April 2nd, 2015 | By Brittany Meadows
But all is not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, and the wife of a recent graduate of Addiction Campuses of Texas, Ellen.
Ellen’s story is one of pain and devastation but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life, as your loved one struggles from addiction. We want you to know that addiction can be treated, and family and relationships can be restored. Ellen is proof. Read on.
Tell me about your relationship with your husband. When did you begin to notice he was suffering from addiction?
My husband and I met in 1978. There were never any signs of addiction when we first met. In fact, both of us would go out and drink socially at parties without any problems.
We married a few years later and raised a family together. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that he started drinking more and more. It got to the point that he couldn’t stop. It was all night, every night.
How did it affect your relationship and your family?
He wasn’t contributing to life anymore – or the life that we had built together. He stopped doing things around the house, he stopped doing things with the kids and the family. He just wanted to stay home all the time. And that meant staying home to drink.
My husband’s drinking got so bad he started having health issues. So then, he’d drink to feel better. It lead to fights and arguments that we never had before. He’d promise me he’d stop. He’d tell me he’d get help, “Tomorrow.” But tomorrow never came.
I loved him but I hated what he turned into. I wanted our relationship to work – I wanted our family to work, but his drinking was destroying it.
How did you help your husband find help?
At first, he went to a local detox. He actually went to detox twice. But each time, within two days, he was drinking again.
I finally put my foot down and told him that he needed to make the choice: Vodka or family. I told him there was no more “tomorrow” – that he had to change today.
That conversation and that ultimatum was so difficult, because I really didn’t know what he would do. But, I had a friend to help me stay strong. I stuck to my grounds. And I told him, if he went to treatment, I’d still be there when he got back.
That’s when he called Addiction Campuses. The treatment specialist we reached, Jessica, was so helpful. She got got my husband on the plane to Texas. We were scared to death, but we wanted to save the family.
What kind of help did you seek for yourself?
The first few days were really difficult. I was embarrassed. But I then, I started to realize that it was a disease. I began reading the blogs on Addiction Campuses’ site, I followed specialists on Twitter for help and support. I’ve also started going to Al-Anon once a week.
How have you seen your husband’s healing? And how has your family healed?
My husband has a positive attitude again. For so long it was gone. Now, he has the spunk back in his life – the kidding and the caring.
He’s helpful around the house, he’s taking care of the dog, he’s wanting to get back into work. My husband used to be a neat freak, and now he’s cleaning up after himself again. Today, he took our elderly neighbor to the doctor – something he wouldn’t have been able to do when he was drinking. This weekend, my he and my son watched a NASCAR race together, without alcohol. It was the first time in a long time I was able to watch them laugh and enjoy each other.
It’s really like a dream come true. For so long, I was doing everything myself. Now, I have him back to do things together.
What is the biggest thing that you’ve learned about addiction?
I learned I didn’t handle it properly. I would scream and yell when I’d get home and see he hadn’t done anything but drink. I would knock the couch over to get him to move. I enabled him instead of helping him – by allowing him to lay around and do nothing.
I know now that I need to help him in his recovery and sobriety. And I’ve learned that I shouldn’t be so angry.
How are you healing?
I’m still scared when he doesn’t answer the phone when I call. I still worry when I’m not with him. But that being said, I will be there if he falls.
What advice would you offer to others who have spouses in active addiction?
You’ve got to get over your fear. You’ve got to protect yourself and protect your children. Be prepared to give tough love. Stick to your grounds and get help for yourself, too.
What would you tell someone about the treatment your husband received to inspire them to go to ACTX?
When I first found out that my husband was in a “blackout period” – meaning I couldn’t talk to him, I was really scared. But the staff at Addiction Campuses were so reassuring. They would keep me updated on how he was eating, if he was participating, and how he was feeling. The therapists had open communication with me, and the nurses would call me. The staff really was a 10.10.10.