It can be heartbreaking to admit your spouse has an alcohol or drug addiction. It’s not uncommon to blame yourself. You may feel if you had behaved or done something differently this never would have happened.
Or you may think, “How did this happen to our family? We have everything — three adorable children, two successful high-paying careers. What could possibly be lacking to cause my spouse to use drugs or alcohol?”
Atlanta divorce attorney Pete Chambers, who specializes in divorce with addiction issues, will tell you he never saw it coming either, “It’s important to understand and respect that addiction is an illness.”
And it can happen to anyone.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic disease that causes the individual to seek out and continue abusing substances and behaviors that are harmful to themselves and those around them despite knowing their destructive nature.
Once you can accept and acknowledge this disconcerting fact, you can then make choices to help your addicted spouse, whether you remain in the marriage or not.
When and How to Intervene With an Addicted Spouse
As challenging as it may be, allowing your spouse’s addiction to continue without intervention is harmful to your spouse, and can promote severe consequences for yourself and your family.
Addiction is a progressive disease which only gets worse over time.
If you’re at all unsure, research and become familiar with the physical, behavioral, and financial signs of addiction.
Plan an Intervention – The sooner your spouse can face and acknowledge their addiction, the sooner they are able to start working on a long-term recovery from their disease. If talking with your spouse about their drug or alcohol use is met with denial, projection, anger, or hostility consider seeking the help of a healthcare provider, mental health professional, or intervention specialist to discuss how to plan an intervention.
You may also need the help and support of respected family members, close friends, and even close business associates. Try to offer loving support and attempt to remain non-judgmental.
Find a Recovery Program – Support your spouse in locating a 12-step or other recovery program, an in-patient or out-patient treatment center. Keep in mind your spouse may need to leave the family home for a period of time to successfully address the causes and challenges of addiction.
Learn all that you can about the disease of addiction and address the issues and behaviors of your spouse without judgment, shame, or blame. Confirm that you accept and acknowledge that they have a disease they cannot help, but that they are responsible for their recovery.
Be Patient – Hand in hand with acceptance is developing patience with the disease of addiction and the understanding that recovery is not always a smooth one-step process.
Addicts facing recovery seldom move through the process without several relapses. It can be a very slow process toward change. It is natural to feel frustration, fear, or anxiety when your spouse begins the road to recovery.
Find a Support Group – It’s unlikely that trying to manage the insanity of your spouse’s addiction is the only challenge in your life. You may be juggling care for young children or aging parents, demands of your career, and the financial challenges that might have resulted from your spouse’s behavior. Finding a support group can help you learn to recover from your codependency or enabling your spouse.
Resources to consider:
• Al-Anon Family Groups – For family members worried about someone with a drinking or substance abuse problem.
• Couple Recovery – Workshops for couples impacted by addiction.
• Nar-Anon – Similar to Al-Anon for individuals impacted by narcotic abuse.
• Families Anonymous – Similar tot Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, but for parents and siblings of addicted children.
• Recovering Couples Anonymous – Similar to, but not affiliated with, Alcoholics Anonymous, program is based on a 12-step program.
• SMART Recovery Family & Friends –Program to support loved ones of individuals in recovery.
When Addiction Leads to Divorce
Addiction can lead to, among many other things, a loss of trust and intimacy between partners, lack of communication, and in some cases physical and/or emotional abuse.
When the illness of addiction has damaged the marriage beyond repair, the non addicted spouse often realizes the time has come to move forward separately. The decision is never easy, can be gut-wrenching emotionally, and is seldom without legal and financial challenges.
Finding an Atlanta trusted divorce attorney who understands the challenges of addiction can be invaluable through this difficult time. You should find a divorce attorney who has extensive personal and professional experience with the disease of addiction.
Your divorce attorney needs to be nonjudgmental, understanding, compassionate, and putting you at ease at a time when you will be sharing intimate and privileged information. An experienced family law attorney can walk you through the complex legal process and how addiction can significantly impact the court’s decisions.
What Should You Do Now?
If your situation is also complicated by a high-net worth financial picture, your attorney needs to be skilled and prepared to protect you and your children’s future economic stability.
Chambers Family Law attorneys are experienced and equipped to successfully provide non-judgmental, compassionate, and invaluable assistance when addiction plays a role in your divorce. Speak to a Chambers Family Law attorney right now at 404-795-5090.