Divorcing an Alcoholic or Substance Abusing Spouse

The United States has a higher divorce rate than most parts of the world, but it is far from the country with the most divorces. Marriage is not always easy, so success requires both spouses to be dedicated to their union and serious about making it last. That’s why it is not surprising that a lack of commitment could spell disaster for a couple. When considering the divorce rate, it is helpful to understand there are two different measures used. The work required for me to recover from alcoholism was monumental, but it paled in comparison to the work we’ve done to recover our marriage. We had to revive the terror before we could see a hopeful future.

divorce rate after sobriety

Hope and vulnerability are not options for the spouse of an active alcoholic. When I would take sobriety out for a test drive, I remembered the many occasions from the past when I had done wrong and apologized. I didn’t see the damage that remained because I was confident in my amends made in those many mornings after. Moreover, as people age, they have a heightened awareness that they have fewer years before them, Charles said. “Which makes them focus more on the here and now, the right now, as opposed to the future,” which can ease worrying and bolster emotional resilience, she said. Make sure your expectations for their recovery are realistic.

Abuse vs. Addiction

Living with someone who has substance use disorder can be difficult, and also create changes in your relationship. Although recovery is positive for the whole family, it may not be as idyllic as you hope. These mental health symptoms can last longer than the withdrawal period, especially if the person with SUD hasn’t learned healthy coping mechanisms to deal with unwanted feelings. According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), couples in which at least one partner lives with substance use disorder are often more unhappy than other couples.

As noted earlier, some of these patients present with more than one addiction. Surrounding yourself with an understanding and positive support system can be an invaluable preventative measure against relapse. Receive 24/7 text support right away.There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time. You might find yourself struggling with a variety of emotions and second-guessing yourself. Having loved ones who are willing to listen and show compassion during this process can be incredibly beneficial.

What to Do About Addiction and Divorce

Children of alcoholics tend to marry less frequently, and if they do marry, their divorce rate is higher even when no substance abuse is involved in their marriage. Since the turn of the century, the United States has seen a marked increase in the nationwide divorce rate. It has gotten to a totally new level in which roughly half of all American marriages will end in divorce. At the same time, drug and alcohol abuse divorce after sobriety and addiction to such substances and just addiction, in general, has also skyrocketed since the turn of the century. Everyone is impacted differently in a marriage affected by addiction, especially for couples with children. The nature of the disease of substance use disorder causes people suffering from addiction to behave in ways that prioritize substance misuse above all else, including those they love.

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  • This may entail ordering the Dependent to submit to randomized drug and alcohol screenings, including hair follicle tests, or ordering the Dependent to comply with a substance abuse treatment program.
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  • If they agree, you may be able to save your marriage and work through the issues.
  • I thought she was stubborn and broken, and she was to blame for her inability to move forward.

When a couple ends a marriage for this reason, the divorce process may look different. An uncontested divorce arranged through a mediator may not be the best approach, despite its benefits in ordinary situations, due to the difficulties of an abuse victim negotiating a settlement with an abusive partner. Sometimes you have to move backward before you can ever hope to go forward. In a marriage in early sobriety from alcoholism, the first step to our recovery was to look back over our shoulders and deal with the aftermath of my two-and-a-half decades of drinking. When my wife was still frustrated, untrusting, and sad in my early sobriety, it made me angry. My sacrifice—the challenge I faced to stay sober—that was an effort worth supporting and celebrating.

Hope for Recovery is Alive!

Further, the highest rates of divorce were when a wife consumed high levels of alcohol and her husband did not. People who are considering divorce may find it useful to seek out attorneys and therapists with experience in helping addicted people and their family members. Some therapists are reporting an increase in the amount of addictions they see in their practices. And the opioid addiction crisis, the methadone addiction problem will undoubtedly contribute to an increase the divorce rate and a further breakdown of the family unit in the United States . Clinicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, marriage counselors, family therapists and matrimonial attorneys know all too well how frequently addictions contribute to marital discord and to the dissolution of marriages.

Treatment success can make a difference, but again, judges will want to make a decision that protects the children. If it seems like there’s a strong correlation between divorce and substance abuse, that’s probably because there is. Half of all marriages end in divorce, and alcohol abuse alone triples that rate. Substance abuse is cited by women as the 3rd most popular reason for divorce; for men, substance abuse is the 7th cited reason for a marriage’s failure.

Unfortunately, some actions and damage cannot be repaired even with intense therapy and counseling. In cases of physical, emotional, and financial abuse, the spouse of someone with substance use disorder feels betrayed and unable to return to the relationship for their own health and safety. Previous breaches of trust due to secrecy and broken communication can linger like a black cloud over a couple regardless of how much they want to make their marriage work.

  • Marriage is not always easy, so success requires both spouses to be dedicated to their union and serious about making it last.
  • There are many resources available through substance use counseling that specialize in divorce mediation and helping newly divorced people in recovery begin the process of rebuilding and moving on.
  • Ted worked to rebuild Angie’s trust and diligently worked the 12 steps in his AA program.
  • But while these life changes can be influential, demographic research has identified broad similarities for why marriages break down regardless of age, Cichy said.

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