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Addiction and the Road to Divorce

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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 around it.

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 alternatives.

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 studies.

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 Divorce Magazine.

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.


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