• calendar14th Oct 23 10:00 pm
  • userJamie

Divorcing An Addict: Navigating The Intersection Of Rehab, Recovery, And Separation

Per the United States Census Bureau, almost seven out of every 1,000 people experienced divorce in 2021. Some of these divorces were precipitated by a substance abuse. If you are married to someone with addiction issues, it can be useful to understand how to help the spouse overcome them, while also being aware of how to handle the divorce process if the marriage becomes unrecoverable. Learn about divorcing an addict and explore how a Colorado family law attorney can aid individuals who want a divorce by calling the Colorado Divorce Law Group at (720) 593-6442.

Understanding Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a persistent and recurrent condition in which the sufferer constantly or repeatedly seeks the substance and uses it despite experiencing harmful effects. Similar to other diseases, addiction disrupts how a person’s organs function and can be extremely harmful. Fortunately, in most cases addiction is also highly treatable with timely intervention and appropriate medical support. If the addicted individual does not seek treatment, they may never recover and the addiction may lead to severe outcomes, including decreased life expectancy.

How Does Addiction Affect Divorce?

Addiction may lead to divorce for various reasons, such as a spouse misunderstanding how substance abuse disorders work, or the person struggling with addiction refusing treatment or having inadequate access to effective treatments, resulting in damage to the marriage. The truth is that most divorces occur due to multiple factors, meaning addiction might not be the only cause. That said, getting over an addiction may reduce the chances of divorce since it could mitigate the impact of other factors that might impact the relationship, like emotional intimacy, trust, and financial issues.

What Is the Emotional State of an Addict?

Emotional dysregulation can be both an initiating factor in substance abuse disorders and a common side effect of abusing substances. People suffering from a substance abuse disorder often experience emotional dysregulation or ineffective emotional regulation, which in turn may be reflected in some or all of the following

  • Compulsively finding and taking a substance
  • Losing control when taking it
  • Emerging with a negative mental state, such as feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable, as the substance leaves the nervous system
  • Suffering withdrawal when unable to gain access to the substance

Is Drug Abuse Grounds for Divorce?

Since state laws govern this process, the answer to this depends on where someone wishes to file for divorce. Usually, to obtain a divorce based on substance addiction, the petitioner will need to demonstrate that the partner has this issue and that it began after getting married.

What Is the Divorce Rate for Addicts?

In the United States, roughly 3% of marriages that result in divorce do so because of substance abuse. While not the only cause, about 6% of divorces include substance use as one of the reasons behind the marriage ending. Among women and men, addiction is the third and eighth most common cause of divorce, respectively.

Find out more about divorcing an addict and discover how a Colorado family law attorney can assist those seeking a divorce by arranging a consultation with the Colorado Divorce Law Group.

What Are the 4 Pathways of Addiction?

Here is a summary of the four main stages of addiction:

  • Initial hook: The initial stage entails discovering that a particular substance provides the person with pleasure. Following this realization, the individual repeatedly indulges in the substance to enjoy the rewards it offers.
  • Tolerance: As the person begins to use the substance more regularly, their body changes in such a way that the substance has less of an impact, encouraging the individual to use more of it. This stage is characterized by the emergence of physical dependency, which can grow more pronounced with continued use.
  • Transition to problematic usage: This stage involves moving from casual use, where the activity could potentially be a means to achieve a particular objective, to precarious usage, whereby the act of taking the substance is now the end goal.
  • Maintenance: At this point, the individual may regularly indulge in the substance when prompted by certain situational cues that promise instant satisfaction.

Following the above stages, the addicted person may attempt to quit, suffer withdrawal symptoms due to physical dependency, and potentially relapse into regular usage.

Tips for Divorcing an Addict

Both the emotional dysregulation that frequently accompanies an addiction and the often problematic behaviors individuals may engage in while using or attempting to acquire their substance can put strain on a relationship. Spouses of people suffering from substance abuse often have questions about whether the relationship can be saved, or what they can do to help the person they once loved access effective treatments to reduce their dependency. The following tips may prove useful to someone considering divorcing an addict.

Keep a Journal

Think about writing a journal about the addict’s substance use. Beginning the journal before initiating divorce proceedings can help someone married to an addict to get a clearer picture of the day-to-day behaviors involved in their spouse’s substance abuse, as well as establishing a record if the case ultimately does go to court.

For maximum benefits, consider continuing this journal if and when divorce proceedings begin, and throughout the case, as well as during any periods of attempted negotiation or mediation. A contemporaneous journal can be a helpful point of reference when looking to build a case against the spouse, but may also contribute to mental clarity regarding your own priorities in seeking a divorce and the outcomes you hope to achieve.

Gather Evidence

Additionally, start collecting evidence of substance abuse. Once obtained, consider storing this evidence securely on the Cloud and save a backup where the spouse cannot access it. Examples of suitable evidence include:

  • Electronic and paper receipts concerning the substance
  • Photographs and videos of the substance and the spouse using it
  • Rehabilitation records
  • Electronic communication referring to substance abuse

Create a Witness List

Calling witnesses might be necessary if the divorce goes to trial. When crafting this list, be sure to get each person’s name, email address, phone number, and physical or mailing address.

Appropriate witnesses should be willing to support the fact that the spouse has an addiction issue, and able to provide corroborating evidence from their own knowledge of the spouse. In some cases, this list might include witnesses who may know of the addiction issue but may not want to testify because of their relationship with the spouse, requiring the need to issue a subpoena.

Build a Strategy

Spouses considering a divorce will typically need an exit strategy. When preparing to separate from a married partner with a substance abuse disorder, be sure to address the following issues:

  • Consider whether they might be a threat to your safety or your child’s. If they are, quickly obtaining a temporary child custody or restraining order could be necessary.
  • Think about whether it is necessary to acquire immediate spousal or child support, or apply for a property control order. Typically, this is relevant when the addict earns all or most of the couple’s income, in which case, if the spouse petitioning for divorce is working with legal representation, they may also wish to apply for an order to get support in paying their attorney’s fees.

Contact a Colorado Family Law Attorney Today

If you are thinking about divorce because of a partner’s addiction issues, be sure to prioritize the safety of any children and yourself. Individuals who are considering divorce because of the negative effects of a spouse’s substance abuse disorder may wish to contemplate a trial separation before filing their divorce petition, if they feel it may still be possible to save the marriage with addiction treatment and family counseling. On the other hand, if the spouse with a substance disorder has developed abusive behaviors, it may be a good idea to seek a protection order or temporary custody order early in the divorce process. If you are contemplating or pursuing divorce due to a spouse’s substance abuse issues, get support from friends and family members, protect your property and finances, and consider reaching out to an attorney to learn about the possible legal options. Gain an enhanced understanding of divorcing an addict and learn how a Colorado family law attorney can help those experiencing a marriage breakdown by getting in touch with the Colorado Divorce Law Group at (720) 593-6442.