Addiction and Divorce: Should You Stay or Should You Go?


If you are married to an alcoholic or addict, you know how terrible addiction can be for both you and your loved one.

However, there are many steps you can take to save your loved one and your relationship from addiction before you give in to the idea of separation.

Encouraging Recovery and Understanding the Addict

One thing to understand when trying to look for help for an addict or alcoholic is that he or she has to want to get help. The only way to stop the self-destructive path of the addict is to allow him or her to accept that he or she has a problem. Know that the threat of divorce is not usually enough to get an addict to end destructive behavior or to accept help.

Nevertheless, know that if the threat of divorce does not change your spouse's attitude, it has nothing to do with how much he or she loves you. Rather, this should be seen as an indication of how serious his or her addiction is. Look for professional help when you are trying to formulate a plan to help your loved one overcome addiction. Addiction programs that can be of help are programs like: Al-anon, CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) and ACoA (Adult Children of Alcoholics).

Looking for Professional Help

Another option that is available for people trying to overcome addiction is seeking out professional advice from a therapist. Look for a therapist in your community who specializes in addictive illnesses and recovery. Conducting an intervention is also an option that you may want to consider. An intervention is a powerful tool that friends and family can use to educate everyone, including the addict. Everyone in the family can learn about what addiction is, how the family's negative or positive behaviors may be contributing to a person's addiction, and what possible changes everyone can make.

The Last Resort: Separation

If you have tried the previously mentioned options and more, but nothing has worked, perhaps you are now contemplating a legal separation or divorce. A legal separation is a legal proceeding in which you maintain your marital status but you are no longer tied to your spouse financially. To figure out if this is an option for you, or if there are any other legal actions you may want to contemplate, talk with a local attorney.

Divorce can be heartbreaking and devastating, but sometimes it is the only choice you have as the non-addict. This can be especially true when there are children involved. This is because when a family struggles with addiction, neither parent is emotionally available and often there is little or no stability in the household.

Here are some questions that can help you assess your particular situation and what steps you should take:

  1. Have you acknowledged to yourself that your spouse is an addict?
  2. Has your life become chaotic as a result of living with an addict?
  3. Have you sought help for your spouse from an addiction expert??
  4. Have you attended counseling together with your spouse from a therapist who is knowledgeable about addiction and family systems?
  5. Have you experienced serious negative consequences as a result of your spouse's addiction?
  6. Have you let your spouse know that you are contemplating divorce unless s/he stops using?

Source: The Huffington Post

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