The pressures of life can be difficult to handle and for some people, marriage can add unexpected stressors. Financial troubles, insecurities that your spouse could be getting attention elsewhere, and arguments that you aren’t holding up your end of your partnership can send a spouse into a downward spiral that includes substance abuse and addiction. For some couples this can mean more than just dysfunction. It can mean danger from domestic violence unless your spouse receives help.
Not all spouses will be willing to look in the mirror and admit that they have a problem that needs to be addressed through a drug and alcohol abuse treatment program. Those who make the connection and own it will struggle with getting clean – and so will the spouse who is left behind, even if only temporarily. Once your significant other has left for rehab, you have time to think with a clear head and you have some decisions to make about whether to divorce or to stick it out.
Self-care is just as important as a spouse healing from addiction
Maybe your partner has had an addiction since before you even met but it was controlled just enough that you wrote it off as an occasional slip that wasn’t a big deal. Addicts are good at hiding their behavior until it gets so out of control that you simply can’t ignore it any longer. By then, you’ve seen enough that it has had a lasting effect on your own mental health. You can take control to begin your own healing while your spouse is away doing his or her part.
- Get counseling. You’ve endured a lot while watching and experiencing addiction in your home. If you have children, they’re almost certain to have been affected as well. You need to make sense of what’s happened, understand how you feel, and figure out how to move forward. If you choose to remain with your spouse and see if things improve after rehab, continuing with counseling can help offer a sounding board for frustrations that you will almost certainly have while your addicted partner continues to recover.
- Find support. Reconnecting with friends or family who may have slipped into the background as you dealt with the addiction. You need support just as much as you need to be supportive. Whether your loved ones voluntarily faded out of sight or you isolated yourself from everyone outside your marriage, take the time to explain to them what’s been happening and that you need them in your life. You can also join groups like al-anon where you’ll find other individuals who are in various stages of the exact same process you are just beginning.
- Look for happiness. Your household has likely been under a dark cloud for a long time while you and your children walked on eggshells hoping not to provoke an unstable spouse and parent. Focus on what makes you and your children happy again.
Protecting yourself from catastrophe is okay
Substance abuse is the sixth highest cause of divorce in the country, which means you would be doing yourself a disservice by not seeking legal advice to explore your options.
Speak with a divorce attorney
Realizing that you may be better apart than together can be a really hard idea to accept, but sometimes what’s best for all of you can be heartbreaking. Maybe it’s something you need to do temporarily to see how your spouse’s recovery progresses before making any final decisions. Whatever the situation turns out to be, you have some issues that need to be sorted out like child custody and visitation, temporary alimony or even asset division. Depending upon the level of your spouse’s substance abuse, it’s possible that some of your marital property has disappeared to pay for a growing habit.
Seeking a protective order
Substance abuse can exacerbate domestic violence and you may not have been able to safely seek help while your spouse was still in the home. If you have been the victim of abuse and you’ve had enough regardless of any rehab outcome, your spouse having to go into a treatment program for even 30 days may give you the time needed to get your affairs in order to leave and seek a protective order to prevent further abuse whether or not rehab takes.
Substance abuse causes chaos in the lives of everyone around the addict and just because your spouse enters rehab isn’t a guarantee that the abuse is over with. Relapses can happen, personalities can change as a way of coping with clean living, and you have a right to make choices about how you want to go on.
If you are living with a spouse going through addiction or recovery and want to understand your legal options, the caring attorneys Fulton divorce attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A. can set out all your options to give you peace of mind in making the best decision for you and your family. Please call 443-917-3347 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation. We maintain additional offices in Bethesda, Columbia, and Rockville.