Divorce and Addiction: When Hope for Recovery Isn’t Enough

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Feb 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Addiction is a complicated disease and the source of anguish, frustration and disconnect in millions of American families and in marriages. Many spouses will try to take the higher ground for years, urging their spouse towards rehabilitation and counseling to try to get control of an alcohol or drug addiction. Continuing to support an alcoholic or drug addict spouse can be expensive, emotional, and terrifying, especially if you have children. If you are married to an addict, you might be wondering, when is your hope for recovery not enough? How do you know when it is time to end your marriage? Are you giving up on your spouse?

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These are common questions faced by the spouses of addicts. For those who are wanting to leave an addict spouse, the emotions can be complicated. You may feel guilty, resentful, sad, and even scared of being alone. OurBirmingham divorce attorneys understand the hardships faced by our clients. We can provide the legal support you need and help you find necessary resources to take control of your life and move forward.

There are many kinds of addictions that may give rise to a divorce—alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, gambling, prescription drugs, or even the addiction to online gaming can create significant problems in a marriage that only compound over time. In addition to the financial expense of an addiction, you will likely also lose trust and intimacy. Throughout the months and years of dealing with addiction, you may become the enabler, or shut off your emotions just to get through the day. You have had your defense mechanisms, but perhaps now you know that it is time to move on.

For many addicts, it is necessary to hit rock bottom before they will change. Staying in a marriage and watching an addict continue to abuse is not only difficult for you, but it will not help your spouse get better either. Divorce may be the solution necessary to help you gain independence and restore stability in your life. A divorce could be a motivating factor to “get clean.” If you have children and your children are endangered by an addict spouse, you should make sure that their interest and safety are put first. If necessary, you can pursue a restraining order or gain sole custody to prevent abuse or unsafe situations.

It is not uncommon for one spouse to become an enabler overtime. This may mean purchasing alcohol or drugs, giving your spouse money, or routinely forgiving bad behavior. You may also become dependent on the behavior of your addict spouse. Addiction is a complicated disease and should be dealt with by a professional. Many cases will require intervention and counseling. Even if you decide to pursue the divorce, you may also benefit from counseling yourself.

If you are married to an addict and considering divorce, it is important to also know your legal options and your rights throughout the process. Certain decisions, such as leaving your family home could have an impact on the results of your divorce. Before making rushed decisions, consult with an experienced advocate about your decision.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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