If you have a partner who suffers from a serious substance abuse problem that has led to addiction, the impact can be heartbreaking and devastating on your relationship. But is divorce the ONLY answer you have to the problem? Both of you have suffered the consequences of the addiction, both of you have said what you need to say, both of you have made threats and even considered leaving as a result of the addictive tendencies and behaviors. Now what?
At one point, it may seem as though divorce is the only answer when a spouse is an addict. For the non-drug or alcohol abusing spouse, the addiction may seem like an excuse: Why can’t you just quit so that we can move on with our lives?
For the addict, the addiction is a stronghold that can’t easily be overcome. He or she may think, “I wish I could quit…I’ll show you!” But in reality, it’s never as easy as it may seem—not to either of the people involved.
What about Divorce?
The easy answer after years of substance abuse and coping with an addicted loved one may seem like divorce. Something that was not even a considerable option when the marriage vows were stated, now seems like an inevitable option because both you and your spouse feel like there’s nothing else left to do but turn and go separate ways. But that’s not true!
Treatment can Help
If you have a spouse who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, consider treatment. Family or relationship therapy should play a major role in the treatment that is received. The addict will require treatment to help him or her cope with and overcome the substance abuse. You will require treatment to help you learn how to deal with the changes that come when your loved one is no longer and addict, and also to help you cope with past trauma or abuse which may have occurred by your spouse as a result of his or her addiction.
Make an Ultimatum
If your spouse won’t consider treatment, it’s time to put your foot down. Make an ultimatum: Treatment or Divorce. Either your spouse will go into treatment where both you and the partner can receive counseling and therapy, or the spouse will be served with divorce papers and your relationship will end. While this seems so harsh, such intervention is often necessary to help an addict realize that his or her problems truly are that bad and truly do require professional help.
Consider couples counseling, NA or AA, and Al-anon or similar support groups that are meant to help the family members of those addicted. If you require further assistance, call our helpline for support and answers. We can even provide a free treatment referral that will help you or your loved one get sober.