Addiction and Divorce

Addiction, when left untreated, almost inevitably leads to divorce. While sex addiction can cause the most obvious problems in a marriage, infidelity being chief among these, other addictions can be just as damaging to a relationship. An addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping, eating, or anything else puts a huge strain on the connection between two people. Even when the addict admits powerlessness and enters a treatment program, the damage to the marriage may be irreparable.

If You Are the Addict

As the person with the addiction, you will likely feel a huge amount of guilt in the wake of a divorce. You probably think of yourself as the main cause of the split. Although these feelings are valid, they are counterproductive. There are two people in a relationship and blame for failure cannot possibly rest on one person alone. Drowning yourself in blame, shame, and guilt will not help your recover from your addiction or from the pain and disappointment of divorce.

If you are still working through recovery and treatment while getting divorced, it can be very difficult to maintain focus. Dealing with a difficult personal issue can be very detrimental to getting and staying sober. However, it is not impossible to cope with both at the same time. If you are in treatment, you probably are participating in therapy. Make sure your counselor, therapist, or sponsor knows about the divorce so that they can help you deal with that along with your addiction.

Sometimes divorce occurs before you realize your addiction and make the crucial first step to get treatment. If this describes you, use the divorce as the ultimate wake-up call. If your spouse cites your addiction as the reason for divorce, it is time to recognize your problem, get help, and move on with your life.

If Your Spouse Is the Addict

Trying to maintain your marriage with an addicted spouse is nearly impossible. You most likely feel angry and cheated by the fact that you have to put up with your spouse’s one-minded obsession. Regardless of what the addiction is, many of the symptoms are the same: changes in personality, obsessive need for something, financial woes, and a lack of respect for you and your relationship.

If you have suffered through years of your spouse’s addiction, tried to get help, and finally decided to give up on the marriage, no one can blame you for doing so. Until your spouse is prepared to admit to the problem and get treatment, there is nothing you can do to make them recover. There is no shame in leaving a relationship broken by addiction.

Divorce even without the element of addiction can be very difficult. Those going through divorce often suffer from low self-esteem and feelings of failure. Add to this addiction and you may also be angry and disappointed. Because of this added stress, counseling or therapy may be a good idea to help you get on to the rest of your life. You may consider individual therapy or group sessions with others who have experienced the addiction of a loved one.