How Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse Can Lead to Divorce

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Emerging evidence suggests alcohol consumption increased during COVID-19 especially among women. Research shows that people who suffer from alcohol abuse and drug dependency issues are more likely to experience marital issues and go through a divorce than those who have no dependencies. According to Psychology Today, while those who suffer from dependencies marry at the same rate as those who are dependency-free, they experience divorce at four times the normal rate. In many cases, drug and substance abuse strains even the most loving of relationships, which can drive a couple to divorce if there is no solution to the problem.

According to statistics released by the Addiction Center, almost 21 million Americans battle with at least one addiction, which often leads to failed marriages, friendships, and careers. Some factors that lead to a divorce is when the addicted individual repeatedly lies to and manipulates their spouse, when financial issues start to accumulate because of the drug and substance problem, and when it starts to take a physical and mental toll on the addicted individual’s spouse. In some cases, drug and substance abuse can lead to codependency or enabling behaviors, such as making excuses or removing consequences to keep the peace. Drug and alcohol abuse also creates a dysfunctional home environment, which in turn can affect any children present. However, addiction doesn’t always need to result in divorce. If both parties are committed to seeking help for the issues they are facing, they might be able to overcome the challenges.

Not only can substance abuse affect a divorce, but it can also affect child custody decisions. When deciding how parents will share custodial rights and responsibilities, courts strive to ensure that the children’s health, safety, and welfare come first. Because ongoing drug problems are a serious issue, it almost always affects a parent’s ability to care for a child. In determining the best interests of the child, the court will look to many factors. In some situations, the court will order supervised visitation, rather than no visitation at all, but when there are serious drug and alcohol abuse issues that are both adverse to the health, safety, and welfare of children, it may prevent the parent battling the problem from gaining custody. If you present compelling evidence of harm or danger, the judge can then impose a range of conditions on the other parent to protect your child, including:

  • Protection orders (prohibiting all contact)
  • Supervised visits
  • Breathalyzer testing prior to and during visits
  • Child exchanges in a public place
  • Anger management counseling
  • Substance abuse treatment

Drug addiction and substance abuse are one of the greatest challenges anyone can face in a marriage. If one spouse is adamant about getting help for their drug problem, it is unfair to ask their spouse to stand by while they continue going down the wrong path. When going through a divorce with someone with a drug or substance abuse problem, it’s important to work with an experienced attorney who will help you protect your assets and guide you in making the decisions that could help lead you toward a more positive future.

By Debra Schoenberg

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