Is Divorce The Only Option With An Addicted Spouse


Is divorce the only way to deal with addiction?

Marriage is a relationship based on loyalty, trust, freely shared communication, admiration and respect for each other, shared goals, shared responsibilities and a deep and binding commitment intended to last a lifetime.  It is also a legal and binding contract between two adults, governed by law and with its consequent benefits, obligations and liabilities. 

Life with an Addicted Spouse

When married to an addict, the spousal partner is subjected to the consequences of the addict’s conduct and lifestyle on a very personal basis.  Unfortunately, it can include the breaking of trust, the breaking of agreements and a complete lack of responsibility for the bad effects being created on the partner and the family unit.  It can also include lying, cheating, stealing, unfaithfulness, physical violence, mental abuse, and actual danger to the spouse or children.  It can include financial drain or financial hardship, loss of employment, arrest and jail time, and the legal liability for the actions of the addicted spouse.

When married to an addict, it is the spouse who will be the one waiting and worrying at home, the one who will get the late-night call for the hospital or the police, the one who will be obligated to pay the fines or the damages awarded in a lawsuit as a consequence of the addicted spouses conduct.  Because marriage is a community property proposition with shared assets and monies, the financial destruction and threat to future survival will be borne by both partners.

Due to the fact that addiction is a dwindling spiral which has only three possible outcomes, that of sobriety, incarceration or death, it is imperative that the non-addicted spouse make a realistic assessment of the hard-to-face facts of the matter.  Although painful, it is better to know what action to take, even if difficult.  With decision comes certainty and forward progress, and that itself is stabilizing.

Some Options for Resolving A Marriage

While it may ultimately be in the best interests of all concerned to file for divorce, providing an opportunity for the non-addicted spouse to start building a more stable and happier life, there are some possible options to consider.

  • You may want to look into a legal separation wherein you would remain married to the addicted spouse, but no longer financially tied to them.  As state laws vary, it is vital that you would discuss this option with an experienced and competent attorney well-versed in such matters.  At the same time, you may want to discuss the option of divorce, comparing it you legal separation, and finding out if there are any other legal options open to you.
  • You may want to set-up an intervention, wherein a professional Interventionist can assist you, the addict and other family members understand the mechanics of addiction, and help get your addicted spouse into a rehab setting.
  • Get your spouse into a proven drug rehabilitation treatment program.  Do your due diligence, and choose one which does not use substitute drugs, does no harm, and can provide you with factual outcome results.

Divorce can be devastating on many levels, and changes the course of a person’s future.  But weighed against the devastation of continuing to try and maintain a marriage with an addict will give a measure of comparison.  The two will not be equal, and the balance can shift, resulting in a better and more hopeful future for all involved.

One of the best solutions is to try to get effective help for your addicted spouse like that provided through treatment at Narconon Arrowhead. Our most recent outcome studies indicate the results of our program. It could be the tool that saves the marriage and gives your spouse lasting sobriety.