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How Divorce Impacts Your Addiction Recovery Journey

Written By: Harris House

Category: Recovery, Recovery

Couple sitting on a couch meeting with a therapist.

Addiction recovery means addressing underlying issues as well, including marital conflicts.

How Divorce Impacts Your Addiction Recovery Journey

No one enters a marriage expecting it to come to an end someday. Unfortunately, divorce is a reality for millions of Americans, and people struggling with addiction — as well as those currently in addiction recovery —  are far from exempt. Here’s a closer look at the impact of divorce on addiction treatment and recovery, along with tips for maintaining your sobriety during this difficult time.

Addiction and Divorce

According to statistics shared by Health Street, 7.3 percent of marriages that end in divorce do so due to substance abuse. While this statistic is troubling, it’s not that surprising. After all, substance use and abuse can cause rifts to intimate relationships that simply cannot be repaired.

Says the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) of this phenomenon, “It has long been known that marriage (or other long-term, committed relationships) and substance abuse don’t mix. Having a partner who drinks too much or uses drugs is very much like throwing a stone into a still pond: the effects ripple out and influences all that is near. In the case of a partner who uses drugs or drinks too much, the effect is felt by his or her children, relatives, friends, and co-workers. However, many would argue that, aside from the abuser, the greatest price is often paid by the abuser’s partner.”

Specifically, substance abuse can cause harm to a marriage in many ways, including arguments over the repercussions of drinking and drug use, such as money problems and neglected responsibilities; one partner having to “cover” or make excuses for the other; episodes of domestic violence; inability to show affection or discuss problems without substance use; and family isolation as a result of trying to hide the substance use problem.

Improving Your Chances with Treatment

Family involvement in treatment has been shown to be an important component in supporting recovery. This involves not just addressing the drinking and/or drug use, but also the problems within the relationship. Explains the AAMFT, “If the issues in the relationship are not treated, they can set the stage for continued conflict and, in turn, relapse to drinking or drug use.

Thus, lasting recovery from substance use depends, in part, on making the relationship better. Eliminating drinking or drug use is only the starting point; once sobriety is attained, a supportive caring relationship can be one of the strongest factors in making that sobriety last.”

Woman reaching to comfort another woman.

Surrounding yourself with an understanding and positive support system can be an invaluable preventative measure against relapse.

But even if you do work on the relationship during substance abuse treatment, divorce is still a possibility. This can throw a wrench into the recovery works, especially when you consider research indicating that rates of substance abuse are higher among divorced people than they are among married people.

Utilizing the strategies and coping mechanisms learning during substance abuse treatment can support ongoing abstinence and recovery. These include stress management and self-care techniques, including attending therapy and counseling sessions, joining a support group, surrounding yourself with positive people, asking for help when needed, getting ample sleep, eating right, exercising, and practicing mindfulness meditation.

There’s no denying that addiction can wreak havoc on marriages,  and even in addiction recovery, divorce can and does happen. The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the end result. Contends Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W. for Psychology Today, “Because all addictive illnesses are progressive, the only path for the addict and his or her spouse is a downward spiral — if they don’t get help.”

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse and addiction, and your marriage is suffering because of it, finding the right addiction recovery program can offer your marriage a chance at surviving. Leading St. Louis area rehab Harris House has been providing customized addiction treatment programs for more than 50 years. Call us today to learn about admissions.

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