What to Expect During a Divorce from Someone With a Drug Addiction

Medically Reviewed

In a darker sense of the comparison, divorce and addiction go together like expired peanut butter and jelly. It may work at first, but as time goes on, and the individual falls deeper into their drug addiction, everything begins to head south. Drug-seeking behaviors of those addicted to drugs will push them to steal, lie, cheat, and do whatever it takes to support their drug habit, and it is not the makings of a partnership.

Unfortunately, the fate of the marriage may be doomed from the start. Going through a divorce is difficult enough, but when you learn of your spouse’s troubling path, the entire process can become more challenging. They may be addicted to prescription drugs, illegal substances, or alcohol. Despite the drug of choice, divorcing a spouse while they are dealing with addiction can often be painful and frustrating.

Researchers have come to discover that 41 percent of all first marriages will end in divorce, and almost 50 percent of marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation. 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce, and 73 percent of third marriages end in divorce. The U.S. has the sixth highest divorce rate in the world, and every 13 seconds, a divorce takes place.

The average age of a couple going through their first divorce is 30 years old, and wives are the ones who most often file at 66 percent on average. Bartenders are among the highest on the list of professionals who get divorced at 38.4 percent, which could account for several reasons that include staying out late and drinking. Fifty-six percent of couples say their marriage ended because of arguing, which could be a result of drug or alcohol use.

One significant reason for divorce is if one person in the relationship smokes, which makes them 76 to 95 percent more likely to get divorced. Other studies show that each liter of alcohol consumed raises the chance of divorce by 20 percent, and when you factor in the average American consumes 9.4 liters of alcohol per year, it increases the chances of divorce by 188 percent. As we’ve described, various factors can lead to couples splitting apart, but it is necessary to know what to expect if you become a victim of these circumstances.

Drug users exhibit characteristics and behaviors that make it challenging for their friends or family to be around them. As their soon-to-be-ex-spouse, you are on the front lines of their misconduct. To make the divorce process slightly more manageable, you must know what to do to make the process easier to deal with. Below, we delve into what you can expect during divorce with someone with a drug addiction.

What to Do About Addiction and Divorce

As a spouse, you may wonder what can you do about your significant other abusing drugs or alcohol. How can one avoid the cruelty, heartache, and the stress that divorce brings? Confronting the situation is challenging, and those who are confrontational may discover they have a problem facing this head on.

At times, you may feel it’s easier to fight for the sobriety of your partner rather than giving up on them and getting divorced. Unfortunately, it will enable the person, and they will continue to abuse drugs and alcohol freely. Extreme situations call for drastic measures.

First, and foremost, you need to stop covering for them. These cover-ups allow someone to continue drinking or using drugs in peace. The only way for someone to realize they have a problem is to allow them to deal with the consequences of their actions and not enable them. You cannot call in sick to work so that you can stay home and take care of them.

You must be specific about your addiction and divorce concerns, worries, and demands. It is not a time to sugarcoat how you feel, and a firm approach is necessary to get through to a drug or alcohol user. You must only speak with them when they are sober and calm, not when they are drunk or under the influence of drugs. The best time to speak with them would be after a drug or alcohol-related problem occurs.

You need to discuss the marriage consequences and what will happen if your spouse does not seek treatment, and how you will move out if your demands are not met. If you aren’t prepared to cut them out of your life altogether, you cannot make empty threats. If you are ready, and they are not willing to change, divorce may be the only option on the table at this point.

Issues When Divorcing an Addicted Spouse

If you’ve concluded that divorce is imminent, do not expect the process to be an easy one. A spouse caught in the throes of drug addiction is not healthy on any level, and there will be no level of rational compromise. The best course of action is to find a support network that is on your side and hire a divorce attorney who understands the unique road ahead.

Divorce laws are dictated by state law, and the lawyer will help you determine what you’re entitled to in the state. Most states will retain addiction as grounds for fault in a divorce. Filing on these grounds requires proof of habitual drunkenness or drug addiction. The substance abuse must be a fixed, long-term problem, and you must prove that your spouse became addicted during the marriage. The inability to do so may be met with resistance.

How Addiction Will Impact Child Custody

When children are involved in the marriage, the court will likely take additional action ensuring both parents are fit and able, especially if there are allegations of drug or alcohol abuse. Judges will consider the health and abilities of either parent when deciding what child custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. If one parent exhibits a history of current or past addiction, it will affect the custody arrangement.

A parent’s substance abuse issues will be held against them if it affects their ability to care for the child. If someone is battling a heroin addiction, they will not be a good candidate for joint custody because their actions will likely endanger the child. The court will offer alternative solutions that allow the child to see both parents in most cases.

What Can I Do?

If you are the person who is going through addiction and are willing to change, getting help may be your only option at this point. Addiction, as we’ve described above, fractures marriages and can destroy the lives of all that are involved. Addiction is commonly referred to as a family disease, and the only way to heal these open wounds is to get the treatment you need.

It is especially true if children are involved in the equation. The only way to give them a chance at a better future is to lead by example. If they see their parents entering treatment and owning up to their problem, they will start to gain their respect back for you and begin healing the relationships.

If you are worried about the detox process, Arete Recovery has you covered. Arete provides comprehensive services that help decrease the severity of the detox process. You owe it to yourself and your family to get help today.

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