Divorce and Addiction: Picking up the Pieces

marriage, divorce and addiction
Category: recovery

Ending a marriage is never an easy decision, especially if the disease of addiction is primarily to blame for creating a rift between you and your partner. Substance abuse can destroy previously healthy, loving relationships by eroding trust and causing hurt feelings. While it’s possible to resolve some of these issues, some marriages prove to be unsalvageable.

How Addiction Harms Marriages

Due to issues such as secrecy and denial, a drug or alcohol habit can take a massive emotional toll on any marriage. As a substance use disorder worsens, resentment, frequent arguments and emotional or physical abuse might all occur.

Here are some other common ways addiction undermines marriages.

  • Dishonesty: Many addicts go to great lengths to protect their habit and avoid suspicion, including lying about where they go or who they spend time with. They may hide evidence of their drinking or drug habit from you or try to sneak around behind your back. Deception and manipulation are facets of addiction’s compulsive nature, and it can be difficult for the victimized partner to forgive and forget.
  • Financial difficulties: Money disputes are a leading cause of divorce, even when addiction is not a factor. Still, maintaining a drug or drinking habit can be expensive, and some people get desperate enough to go into debt or spend money budgeted for other purposes. At this point, it might be only a matter of time before you put your foot down.
  • Enabling and codependency: These two dysfunctional behaviors are classic characteristics of relationships where addiction is present. Though they may begin as helpful and loving, they allow substance abuse to worsen. Choosing to divorce your partner will force you to confront the role you have played in their illness, which can be intensely uncomfortable.
  • Intimacy issues: Physical and emotional intimacy require a foundation of trust, which might be one of the earliest things to collapse during active addiction. Substance abuse can also weaken libido, and the resulting lack of closeness can be a breaking point for many couples.
  • Stress and fear: It can be frightening and anxiety-inducing to confront your partner about their addiction or threaten to leave them if they do not seek help. The constant tension can lead to repeated arguments that might escalate into verbal or physical abuse.

How Can I Stop My Spouse’s Substance Abuse?

No marriage is entirely problem-free, but substance abuse is one of the thorniest dilemmas any couple can face. Though your partner’s continued reliance on alcohol or drugs may feel like a personal attack at times, remember that addiction is a disease. The compulsions it creates can be overwhelming, no matter how much someone wishes they could quit.

You might already have done everything you can think of to get your spouse into an inpatient, outpatient or long-term rehab program, but you cannot force someone to change unless they want to. Your significant other may no longer be the person you fell in love with, and it’s OK to move forward without them. While it can be hard to end a marriage, it might be what’s best for you, especially if your partner has become physically or mentally abusive or you have children.

Getting Help for Your Spouse and Yourself

Though your partner may seem to value their relationship with drugs or alcohol above all other parts of their life, there is hope. Educate yourself about the disease of addiction, so you can better empathize with what they’re going through. Look for a treatment program that includes family or couples therapy. If your spouse agrees to try salvaging your relationship by getting help, you will also need plenty of support for yourself to avoid falling into a cycle of negativity.

The road to wellness and healing may be difficult and even painful at times, but it will eventually pay off if you and your partner decide to work toward a healthy, sober life. When you are ready to learn more, our admissions staff is here for you at Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat. We offer fully accredited addiction treatment in a hospital setting. Contact us today to verify your insurance and start healing your marriage.