Addiction is a disease that can take over everything: from all aspects of health to your general identity and even beyond yourself by affecting those you love as well. That being said, addiction can often be either the impetus or the final straw for divorce.
The Connection Between Addiction and Divorce
Many marriages are strained to the point of breaking when bearing the weight of addiction. The disease’s effects touch and twist all aspects of marriage: communication, intimacy, support, responsibility, finances, children, etc.
However, addiction and divorce is not a cause and effect formula. Certainly, there could never be a universally-applicable rule in this situation because both mental illnesses and relationships vary on a case by case basis. But in general, there is hope:
- If both parties are committed to each other AND
- If saving the marriage is what is best for everyone’s health and emotional well-being.
The latter “condition” might initially sound discouraging but, in reality, some relationships can be toxic or unhealthy before addiction even becomes a factor. Sometimes, marital or trust issues can be found at the heart of why a person initially turned to substance use and eventually developed the addiction. Similarly, addiction can take place in disrupted marriages that were previously untouched by the disease as a result of unhealthy coping mechanisms when going through divorce.
There Is Hope
It is for this reason that it is crucial to seek help from a well-resourced recovery center that can offer cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy and trauma-informed approaches. The Aviary Recovery Center, a leading St. Louis area addiction treatment program, offers a program specifically for the family and loved ones of their clients. When the root cause is uncovered, addressed, and can be worked on, then it can become clear what would be best for you and your spouse.
Essentially, your journey to sobriety cannot be a golden ticket for the prize of a perfect marriage—or a one-way ticket back to the marriage you once had. As would be the case for any struggling relationship or for any person recovering from a mental illness, it will require commitment, time, and effort from everyone involved to make it work.
The Sober Spouse
It is important to note that both parties are significantly (but differently) affected in a marriage that is touched by addiction. While the person suffering from addiction might bear the consequences more directly and visibly, the sober spouse’s health and well-being are usually hurt just as much in the process.
Living with an addicted spouse can lead to establishing unhealthy coping habits of their own—like codependency, enabling, lying, or denial. The experience can also be a factor in developing or exacerbating mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, or OCD.
The sober spouse may feel as though the person he or she married no longer exists, which can lead to feelings of helplessness and isolation. The fact that the silent struggle of the loved ones is not talked about is much adds a whole other layer to their conflict.
Seeking professional addiction recovery care is the first step towards a healthy resolution (which will look different for each couple). Furthermore, marriage counseling and post-treatment therapy can be instrumental in the healing process. While it might sound pat—with hindsight, it is often evident that these kinds of make-or-break experiences can ultimately bring people together stronger than before.
Contact The Aviary’s Missouri addiction treatment program when you and your spouse are ready to embark upon your journey of healing both as individuals and as a couple.