A man or women will stay married to an addict for various different reasons.
Maybe the individual is afraid they can’t afford to live on their
own. Maybe they’re afraid of losing time with their children. Maybe
the children are young and close to the addict and the spouse dreads taking
them away from the other parent. Or, sometimes the person truly loves
their husband or wife and they hope they will cure their addiction.
There are many reasons why spouses stay married to addicts, just as there
are a variety of addictions – drugs, alcohol, painkillers, gambling,
pornography, and even sex. While the addictions vary, they all have one
thing in common: The husband or wife cannot control their spouse’s
addiction. They may try to curtail it or even stop it, but like a teenager
who’s had their cellphone taken away, the addict will find ways
Spouses Desperately Trying to Stop Addicts
One thing is for sure, few husbands and wives stand by and do nothing about
their spouses’ addictions. For example, a woman will dump all of
her husband’s booze down the drain and she won’t keep any
more alcohol in the house. A husband may flush all of his wife’s
pain pills down the toilet and he’ll call her doctor and inform
him of her addiction.
A wife will close the joint bank account and open one in her name alone
so her husband won’t access the money and lose it all in Las Vegas.
A woman who’s married to a sex addict will keep tabs on her husband
to ensure he comes straight home after work and doesn’t stay out
late to meet other women.
A man whose wife is addicted to cocaine may closely watch all of the transactions
in the bank account to ensure no money is spent on drugs – these
are just a few examples but we assure you, concerned spouses do so much
more to try to control their spouse’s addiction. Sometimes though,
no matter how nice, diligent, or angry the spouse is, they can find it
very difficult to change their husband or wife. But, before such spouses
throw in the towel, they usually try to get help.
Seeking Help Phase
We must remember that some addictions lead to violence, sometimes extreme
violence. Addictions to alcohol and certain drugs, such as steroids and
methamphetamines can cause the addict to display aggressive behaviors.
It is not uncommon for an alcoholic or drug addict to take out their aggression
on their loved ones, namely their spouse and children.
If you are married to an addict and you are in physical danger, your family’s
safety comes first above all else. Have an escape plan and teach it to
your children. Pack overnight bags for yourself and the kids and leave
them at a friend’s house or at your work. Ask a trusted friend or
family member if you can use their home as a safe place if you do end
up leaving your home.
Ask for Outside Help
If your spouse is not violent toward you or your children, you definitely
want to get them help. See if your spouse will get counseling and join
a support group. There are support groups for alcoholics, sex addicts,
gambling addicts, and drug addicts. If your spouse refuses to seek help,
or if they start to go but stop, that doesn’t mean you should ignore
the resources available to you.
Support groups like AlAnon helps the family members of alcoholics and Gam-Anon
helps if you’re married to someone with a gambling addiction. Then,
there’s NarAnon for the family members of drug addicts. But what
if no amount of support heals your loved one’s addiction? It may
be time to consider your
Be Honest with Yourself
If you are married to someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, please
understand that if you have children, it can negatively impact them. Children
of substance abusing parents have more than double the risk of developing
a drug or alcohol-use disorder than their peers. Such children are also
at risk of other negative outcomes, including social, behavioral, academic
and cognitive challenges, according to
If your spouse refuses to receive help, or if they will not listen to the
experts’ advice regarding their addiction, it’s time to be
honest with yourself. Is your husband or wife ever going to change? Are
they going to get better in the near future? Being married to an addict
can be embarrassing, demoralizing, and it can also lead to isolation.
At some point, spouses eventually tell themselves, “Enough is enough.”
Deciding to Get a Divorce
Much like filing bankruptcy, sometimes the hardest part is
deciding to get a divorce. “As a non-addict though, sometimes the only option
for self-preservation is to seek a divorce. This is particularly true
if you have young children who are being negatively impacted by living
with an addict and the anti-social behavior that so often accompanies
addictive illness,” according to
No matter how great your marriage may “seem” to the outside
world, your spouse’s addiction can tear the marriage apart, giving
you an up-close view of the horrible effects of addiction, specifically
drugs and alcohol. If you’ve reached the breaking point, divorce
may be your best solution.
Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to speak with a Los Angeles divorce attorney. We are on your side and
here to help.