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Posted On June 11, 2021

The Link Between Addiction and Divorce

Excessive consumption of alcohol by a spouse often leads to the breakdown of a marriage due to problems with communication, finances, intimacy, trust, and violent behaviors.

Marriage With an Addicted Spouse

Living with a spouse who is addicted to alcohol often creates turmoil in the home and the marriage. According to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, nearly half of marriages end in divorce when one spouse has an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs.

In the United States, alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance.  Approximately 17 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence and several million more have problems with binge drinking. Being married to a spouse who is addicted to alcohol can lead to a variety of marriage problems that make a life-long commitment very difficult. Since most alcoholics are reluctant to admit they have a drinking problem or seek help, their actions often cause chaos in the marriage. Divorce lawyers commonly witness destructive behaviors that destroy family relationships and family finances.

In some cases, divorce lawyers witness violent behaviors against the other spouse and the children, especially when the alcoholic is the husband. Research shows that men are more likely to be verbally and physically aggressive when drinking. Children who grow up with an alcoholic parent are three times more likely to experience emotional, behavioral, social, and academic problems than teens and adults. When married to an alcoholic spouse, it is important to ensure protection against violent behaviors:

  • Do not interact with a spouse who is intoxicated
  • Avoid discussions that may lead to heated arguments about family relationships and finances
  • Keep the children out of family discussions
  • Do not leave children alone with an intoxicated parent
  • Call the police if family members, children, or pets are threatened with physical violence
  • Build a support system of family members and friends for emergencies

Alcoholism is a disease and it can be treated, but many alcoholics are reluctant to seek treatment or even admit they have a drinking problem. When a marriage becomes toxic and a spouse refuses medical rehabilitation, it may be time to consider legal actions. Divorce lawyers who specialize in family law can provide guidance and legal options. If children are involved, they can also address difficult child custody issues. Courts make custody decisions based on the best interest of the child, so an alcoholic parent may lose custody or be ordered to undergo addiction treatments.

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