Addiction & Michigan Divorces
Addiction is a disease that affects millions & impacts even more. So what happens when you’re married to an addict?
It is estimated that 7% of all divorces are directly caused by addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. It is estimated that 26% have addiction as a “contributing factor”, meaning that actions such as infidelity or abuse led to a spouse filing for divorce, but addiction was the force driving that behavior. In other words, addiction affects over one quarter of divorces in Michigan. So what role does addiction play in a divorce, and how can you manage divorcing an addict?
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a complex psychological and physiological condition characterized by a compulsive and uncontrollable use or engagement with a substance or behavior, despite negative consequences. Addiction can come in many forms, but is usually characterized by the use of a substance with no regard to the impact on one’s health, relationships, or finances.
There are two distinct types of addictions. Both are equally damaging and serious, and most can result in death. These two addiction types are:
- Substance addiction: Characterized by overindulgence in drug and alcohol which eventually leads to physical or psychological dependence on the substance. Those attempting to quit a substance addiction will most likely experience withdrawal symptoms, with alcohol withdrawal potentially causing death.
- Behavioral addiction: There are no shortage of behavioral addictions, but some of the most common (and troublesome) are gambling, sex, shopping and eating. Behavioral addictions were once thought to be “less serious” than substance addictions, but modern research has proven that notion to be false.
Those reading this that have had addiction affect their lives are all too aware of the pain and anguish it can cause both the addict and their loved ones. No matter what someone is addicted to, it is literal hell on earth for them and their loved ones.
Addiction & Divorce: Frequently Asked Questions
When married to someone struggling with addiction, there will almost invariably be a lot of pain. Addiction is detrimental to the health of the addict, the finances of the family, and the mental health of everyone involved. There may not be a “right” answer to many questions about divorce and addiction, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind.
- Can an addict ever be cured?
There is some debate about whether addiction is curable or not. In the strictest sense of the word, there is no cure for addiction. However, many addicts go on to live sober, happy and productive lives. There are no shortage of well-known examples of functioning sober addicts in society today, with some famous examples including actor Robert Downey Jr., Oprah Winfrey and former President George W. Bush. Most addicts will say they are “in recovery” rather than using the term cured.
- Should I stay married to my addicted spouse to support them?
This is a question only you can answer for yourself. However, addiction can lead to dangerous situations for you and your children. It is not uncommon to hear stories of domestic violence, drunk driving, or other criminal legal matters when discussing addiction and divorce. However, there are also non life-threatening matters that can spiral out of control in a marriage plagued by addiction such as financial instability. A good rule of thumb is that if someone’s behavior is causing tremendous stress or strain on a marriage and they are unable or unwilling to cease that behavior, then consulting an attorney may be a good next step.
- Where can my spouse get help for their addiction?
There are no shortage of rehabilitation facilities in or near Wayne County. Additionally, there are multiple 12-step meetings in the area that can also be of help. These are programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Gambler’s Anonymous. Attendance at these meetings is free and voluntary, and can help your addicted spouse find the resources they need to recover. Others find sobriety through religion or therapy. If seeking a therapist, consult your primary care physician.
- Where can I get help to deal with my spouse’s addiction?
There are multiple 12 step programs for helping those in relationships with addicts. Al-Anon, Narc-Anon and others can help you find a healthy way to navigate life with your addicted spouse. Likewise, psychological counseling or religion can also be of great help.
Divorcing an Addict in Michigan
The Michigan divorce process will be the same when divorcing an addict or a non-addict. The difference will be in the details. Filing for divorce from your addicted spouse may or may not cause them to spiral further into their addiction, but you need to remember that this is not your fault. Much like you didn’t cause them to become an addict, you are also not causing them to continue their addictive behaviors.
It would be wise to document any and all offending behaviors, as this can become pertinent in your divorce case. Be sure to understand the addictive substance or behavior to explain to your attorney so they can find the best ways to help you through the process.
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