Divorcing a drug addict

Divorcing a Drug Addict

Going through a divorce is never easy. It's even more difficult when you're divorcing a drug addict. Make sure your divorce agreement includes a well-written drug and alcohol testing program.
Nina Fenton
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Divorcing a Drug Addict Infographic

When divorcing a drug addict or alcoholic, there are specific steps that you must take in order to ensure the safety of your children. A well crafted drug testing program is a critical component to any divorce involving issues of addiction. 7.3% of marriages end in divorce due to drug or alcohol addiction. According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 24.6 million people are in a marriage where one spouse is an addict or alcoholic. Sadly, most of those people get divorced without demanding that the divorce agreement includes mandatory drug or alcohol testing. And, the agreements that do include provisions for testing are often poorly worded or inadequate to ensure true protection for the children.

Drug Testing Your Ex During and After Divorce

Health Street can help you craft a truly accountable drug testing during divorce program to greatly reduce the likelihood that your ex drinking or taking drugs around your children, and if he/she is, to greatly increase the opportunity to catch him/her so that appropriate remedial actions can take place. And when the testing is done, we can report results to the court, to attorneys, or whomever is specified in a signed agreement.

When Is It Time to Consider Divorcing an Alcoholic or Drug Addict?

You may be one of the aforementioned spouses who has valiantly waged war beside an addict in an attempt to salvage your marriage for the sake of your spouse, your children and yourself. There may come a time when you grow weary of this war, though. The time when the damage caused by your drug addicted spouse becomes too much to bear as your emotional armor and the tattered remnants of your relationship simply cannot endure anymore. It is then that you are left with a few important questions with answers that may lead you to making a painful decision about the future of your marriage. Ask yourself:

  • How has your life and marriage changed since your spouse began their struggle with addiction?
  • Have you sat your spouse down and spoke to them about their addiction?
  • Has your spouse attempted counseling or rehab?
  • Have you attempted counseling together or staged an intervention with their friends and family?
  • Has your spouse lied, broken promises, used drugs and failed drug tests during a time when they claimed to be clean?
  • Do you feel as though you’ve reached the point of no return and that it is time to end your marriage?
  • Are you prepared to leave your relationship with your spouse, your home and potentially friends made as a couple?
  • Are your ready to face the fallout from your in-laws and your own family of origin?

Moving On With Life

Unfortunately, divorce may be the only path for you and your spouse if their drug addiction is on the verge of swallowing you both. Coming to this conclusion isn’t going to be easy and there are bound to be some causalities of divorce war. However, there are some simple actions you can take that will make the process of divorce no less painful, but a little bit easier to cope with along the way

Attending Meetings

Divorcing your drug addicted spouse is definitely a large part of the process when you’ve decided to free yourself from the toxic chains of your marriage, but there will be additional work you will need to do in an effort to move on with your life. A great and highly advisable place to start is by attending meetings for the families of addicts like those offered through Nar-Anon, Families Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

These organizations offer services to the spouses, families and friends of those who are struggling with addiction and serve as a value resource to help you understand the disease of addiction, come to terms with the power that the addiction has held over your life and to accept things as they are in an effort to move forward. These same services are also available to your spouse should they wish to gain the same insight when/if they elect to get the help they need to fight their battle.

Find Support

It’s very important that you find yourself a solid support system before you fully immerse yourself in the daunting divorce process. Going through a divorce is difficult enough under normal circumstances and it’s natural to need even more support when addiction is a contributing factor. So, don’t shy away from reaching out to your friends, family and a professional when in need of some extra support emotionally, spiritually or just a friendly, understanding ear to listen.

A study from the North Carolina Cooperative Extensive Service, found that 2 out of 5 children under the age of 18 will endure the divorce of their parents. With this high divorce rate, also comes with a higher rate of depression, feelings of displacement and many other behavioral issues with a reported 20 to 25% of children scoring in these areas on the Child Behavior Checklist based upon the Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment.

This data further supports the necessity to find suitable support systems for any children involved as your divorce will inevitably come with many new and at times overwhelming changes for them. They too will need to be surrounded by those who are able to love and support them while fostering emotionally healthy relationships. It is advisable to consult a child psychologist during this time of transition as well to aid in your child’s coping abilities and to closely monitor them should their emotional state worsen.

Your spouse will also need some additional support during the divorce process, especially when it comes to their addiction. Providing them with a list of professional sources of support that may be able to aid them in their struggle with drugs, is an excellent place to start. You may also reach out to their friends and loved ones to inform them of the life changes that are on the horizon. Having a few life lines in place for your spouse may prove to be invaluable and will allow you to end the marriage knowing you went the extra mile for the person you love.

Cover Your Assets

Being married to a drug addict can take quite a toll on your finances whether funds are being spent on their substance of choice, rehab facilities or court fees if they have encountered legal troubles. Do your best to protect your remaining assets, whether monetary or otherwise, once you have decided to pursue a divorce since the process is expensive. This will also serve as a means of self preservation as you will soon be without the additional financial support from your spouse unless it is granted by the judge overseeing your divorce.

You can start protecting your assets by placing money in separate bank/savings accounts, obtaining fixed rate bonds, opening investment accounts and buying/selling property and personal items to keep them safe. These efforts will keep you financially stable and limit the amount of money your spouse can harm themselves with in the interim.

Consult an Attorney

Making the decision to contact an attorney to begin the divorce process is going to be difficult and rife with emotion. However, if you’ve reached this point, it is likely that you have exhausted all other efforts to get your spouse treatment for their addiction and feel as though you have no other choice but to move forward. Your attorney will understand your struggle, though, and has the tools required to guide you through each phase of your divorce.

Your attorney will need you to walk him through your all of the upsetting details of your spouse’s addiction, provide any supporting information you can to substantiate your claims (especially if there are children involved) and ultimately have you outline what your seeking upon the resolution of the marriage. They will also do their best to inform you of your rights, what to expect during the divorce process and advise you throughout. However, when it comes to crafting a drug and alcohol testing program, it is important that you bring us into the process at that time.

Take Time for Yourself

Your journey isn’t over as soon as the ink dries on the divorce papers despite all you and your now ex-spouse have endured until this point. You now have to mourn the loss of your relationship with your spouse, your marriage, the dissolution of the family unit you once called your own and so much more.

All of these life changes are going to result in an adjustment period where you will face your own set of challenges as you learn to cope and accept this new life. Take your time and be kind to yourself as you weave a new life path for yourself and embrace the change and move forward. And most importantly, protect yourself with a strong, well-crafted drug testing program.

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  • jean

    I can’t count how many times my husband went to AA and rehab. And get out a couple weeks later here we go again this went on for 20 years of our marriage. But thing is he always said I’m sorry than it happens again. I have adult girls now and almost 2 year old grand daughter so when he’s leaving cup smelling like beer on the living room floor for my granddaughter to drink from it! Enough is enough so now! We are separted is it hardofcourse it is. I told him stop drinking here. Didn’t listen so now it’s time to end it!