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Addiction Recovery and Divorce

Man looking worried with his fist to his mouth

For many people, working on relationships while in recovery involves transformation, and while the goal is almost always to resolve strained connections, some are best dissolved. The strain and damage of addiction sadly often lead many couples to divorce. Understanding the link between addiction and divorce is important to determine the next step for couples working to resolve their marital issues.

Divorce and Addiction Statistics:

  • 3% of marriages end in divorce due to substance use disorder
  • 6% of divorces cite substance use as the motivating factor
  • 6 million people are in a marriage where one spouse is battling addiction
  • 30 years old is the average age of Americans who go through a divorce; people ages 25-34 have the highest rates of addiction
  • 1 million people suffer from addiction or drug dependency
  • Addiction is cited as the third most common reason for divorce for women, eighth for men
  • Relationships in which one or both partners misuse substances have higher rates of domestic violence

A Family Disease

Everyone is impacted differently in a marriage affected by addiction, especially for couples with children. The nature of the disease of substance use disorder causes people suffering from addiction to behave in ways that prioritize substance misuse above all else, including those they love. Unfortunately, some actions and damage cannot be repaired even with intense therapy and counseling. In cases of physical, emotional, and financial abuse, the spouse of someone with substance use disorder feels betrayed and unable to return to the relationship for their own health and safety. Previous breaches of trust due to secrecy and broken communication can linger like a black cloud over a couple regardless of how much they want to make their marriage work.

The most impending reason to dissolve a marriage while a spouse is in recovery is often due to the impact the experience has on a couple’s children. Children of those with substance use disorder are more likely to deal with addiction themselves and usually begin to experiment with substances earlier than their peers. They’re also more likely to develop detrimental attachment styles to their caretaker, who misuses substances, causing trauma and a future filled with turbulent relationships. For these reasons and many more, a couple may decide to separate and divorce in hopes that it will allow their children to continue growing in a safer and healthier environment.

Divorce in Recovery

Each relationship is unique, meaning not all divorces caused by addiction are solely on the shoulders of the person with the disease. Sometimes both parties contribute to the dissolution due to codependency, enabling, and other intrapersonal dysfunctionality, especially in cases where abuse occurs. While some divorces may be amicable and mutually decided for the benefit of both parties and any children, others may have a more difficult time coming to grips with the end of a union.

Going through a divorce while focusing on recovery can be stressful. Those going through the experience will need support and guidance to ensure such a drastic life change doesn’t bring about relapse triggers. There are many resources available through substance use counseling that specialize in divorce mediation and helping newly divorced people in recovery begin the process of rebuilding and moving on. The professionals at BAART Programs offer medication-assisted treatment in a convenient outpatient setting and essential community references for those who need help for their journey towards long-lasting recovery. Call or message a local BAART clinic today to learn more about treatment programs and more.

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