Tips for Divorcing an Addict

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divorcing an addict

Tips for Divorcing an Addict

Not only can it be heartbreaking to watch your spouse battle drug or alcohol abuse, but the impact their habit may have on your relationship can also be challenging. Unfortunately, addiction and divorce can often mix. BHOPB detox center offers therapy for patients and their loved ones, and we have been first-hand witnesses to broken marriages associated with drugs and alcohol. As sad as a split marriage is, sometimes divorcing an addict is the safest thing a partner can do for themselves and the rest of their family. If you’re currently in this situation, below is more guidance on how to divorce a drug addict.


Effects of Substance Abuse on Marriage

Due to the secretive and personality-altering nature of substance abuse, a drug or alcohol habit can take a huge emotional toll on any marriage. As substance use worsens, resentment, conflict, emotional detachment, and even physical abuse may occur. To better understand the relationship between substance abuse and divorce, below are some common ways addiction affects marriage.


  • Trust Issues: Many addicts will lie about their drug or alcohol use to loved ones and even steal from loved ones to sustain their habit. It’s common for addicts to lie about where they’ve been at all hours of the night, who they spend time with, and whether or not they’ve used or drank that day. While this compulsion is the direct result of a substance use disorder, it often comes at extreme personal costs. It can be difficult to rebuild trust broken by the dishonesty of addiction, and many couples aren’t able to do so.
  • Financial Problems: Addiction is a costly habit, which is why one of the most typical reasons for divorcing a drug addict is money problems. Many spouses who abuse drugs or alcohol will go to great lengths to get their fix, even going as far as spending the money meant to sustain their families. Debt is also a significant point of contention in a marriage, and when money starts disappearing and the bills rack up, it’s only a matter of time before the other partner puts their foot down.
  • Fights and Arguments: Arguments and fights over the person’s drug or alcohol use can become aggressive, violent, and downright nasty. This often leads to a cycle of arguing, using/drinking to cope with stress, and arguing again. Eventually, resentment builds in the marriage, which can lead to domestic violence and divorce.
  • Intimacy Problems: Emotional and physical intimacy are both dependent on trust, which is one reason why intimacy may collapse in a marriage as a result of addiction. Drugs and alcohol can also have a physical impact on a person’s ability to perform sexually, which can also lead to intimacy problems in a marriage. For many, this becomes a breaking point.
  • Stress and Fear: Fear and stress can occur at the idea of confronting a spouse about their addiction or threatening to leave them if they don’t get help. Other causes of fear may include whether the drug is legal, where the individual is getting the drug, the individual’s safety, the effects of the drug, and the risk of overdose.
  • Unstable Home Life: Not only can the family dynamic change as a result of addiction but children living in homes where drugs or alcohol are present increases their exposure. The result can be an accidental overdose, which may or may not be fatal. The stressors of the spouse’s addiction can also lead to physical abuse, violence, and other problems that would place children or other family members in harm’s way.


How to Leave a Drug-Addicted Spouse

Living with a spouse who struggles with a substance use disorder is an emotionally charged situation. While you might have been able to ignore their problem or simply live through it before, eventually, drug and alcohol abuse takes over the person’s life. In the process, careers, finances, and relationships take a back seat.

Not only is marriage a typical casualty of addiction, but the individual may also begin to mistreat those closest to them in more serious ways. These may range from stealing and lying to loved ones to get more drugs or hide their habit to domestic violence and abuse. Manipulation, DUIs, inability to hold down a job, and financial problems are also issues commonly seen in marriages affected by addiction.

In addition to the typical stressors of marriage, drug and alcohol abuse can be an uphill battle to keep a relationship afloat. In the end, something has to give, and oftentimes, that thing is the addict’s partner.

Although it can be challenging to leave someone you may love, if the addict becomes abusive or violent, then divorce is likely necessary for safety, especially if there are children involved. Whatever the breaking point is, safety is a priority.

If you’re considering divorcing an addict, here are some things to be aware of:


Protect Yourself

Addiction can sometimes be linked with serious issues like financial problems, abuse, and mental health disorders. If you suspect that your addicted spouse has a lot of debt from their addiction or is at risk of hurting themselves or anyone else, telling them you want a divorce may make matters worse. To avoid placing yourself and/or your children in harm’s way, involve the authorities, get a lawyer, and stay somewhere safe.


Feeling Guilty Is Normal

Chances are you have done everything you can to get them professional addiction treatment help, but you cannot force someone to go to rehab (unless it’s court-mandated.) Addiction doesn’t just change a person physically; it can also change a person’s behavior and personality. Your significant other may no longer be the person you fell in love with, and it’s okay to move forward without them. While it can be hard to walk away, it might be what’s best for you, especially if your partner has become physically or mentally abusive and/or children are involved.


Prioritize Children Involved

When children are involved, divorce can be even messier. However, divorcing an addict is usually the best decision you can make to ensure your safety and the safety of your children. As we previously mentioned, it’s dangerous to leave your kids in a home environment where they may potentially get their hands on drugs or alcohol or where they may be at risk of drug or alcohol-fueled abuse or violence.


Take Care of Your Mental Health

A divorce can be mentally exhausting and liberating at the same time, even if addiction isn’t involved. Because divorce is a time of high stress, it is not uncommon for people to suffer from depression and anxiety during this period. To avoid falling into your own trap of drinking or drug use to cope, be sure to take the time to check in on both your physical and mental health in the months that follow. If you find that your divorce has led to a struggle with good behavioral health, our Banyan Lake Worth rehab offers mental health treatment that could help.


Consider Their Feelings

If you are divorcing an addict spouse, don’t forget to be understanding. Divorce is difficult for everyone, but many lawyers and even some of your friends and family might encourage you to “play dirty” to get the most out of this process possible. However, just because your spouse is an addict doesn’t mean that they are a bad person.

Remember, addiction is a chronic disease, and just like any other disease, it can be medically diagnosed, and it requires professional care. Therefore, don’t use the individual’s addiction as an excuse for treating them poorly or preventing them from trying to rebuild their relationships with their children.


Get Help for Yourself or a Loved One

If your significant other is struggling with addiction or you are having problems yourself, our BHOPB detox center can help. Our facility offers a wide range of options for mental health and addiction treatment in Lake Worth that can make long-term sobriety or recovery from mental illness possible.


To learn more about our addiction treatment services, call Behavioral Health of The Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981 or send us your contact information, and we’ll reach out to you.


Related Reading:

How to Support an Adult Child in Addiction

Forgiving an Addict & Moving On

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