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Drug Addiction and Marriage

The association between addiction and marriage is not only a scientific one with empirical data to support it – it is also a cultural association that we see and hear regularly in every type of media. In fact, with the American general public’s focus so often on celebrities this association is all the more solidified when celebs like Daniel Baldwin, Lisa Marie Presley and Amy Winehouse publicly attribute their divorces to the effects of addiction or alcoholism. Unfortunately, people who are married to an addicted spouse know first-hand that there’s nothing glamorous about drug addiction in the marriage – or in any relationship. And while people marry for many different reasons, the rate of divorce for couples with addiction issues is a rather sobering fact.

According to Divorce Law Firms.COM, “. . . people who suffer from alcohol dependency issues are much more likely to divorce than those who have no such issues. While those who suffer from alcohol dependency marry at the same rate as those who are dependency-free, they experience divorce at four times the normal rate of the general population. There appears to be little cultural division regarding addiction and divorce, as a study of eight countries aside from the U.S. showed the same corresponding addiction = divorce rate.” (1) And while these correlations might be easy to draw, they offer few solutions. This is because in many cases people marry individuals without being aware there is a substance abuse problem present. Additionally, many addictions develop after the marriage. Therefore, it’s not simply a case of warning people against marrying an addict or potential addict.

In fact, in many cases the divorce doesn’t occur until after a person has entered a recovery program and stopped using. Nancy R. Van Tine, one of Massachusetts’ most experience divorce lawyers, had the following to say about the peculiarities of divorce after recovery:

“I’ve also noticed that occasionally, but not rarely, the divorce occurs AFTER the addicted partner has become sober. I have theorized that the new sobriety has shifted the control issues in the marriage and one or the other is unwilling to continue in the new paradigm.” (2) This is often the source of a great deal of difficulties in divorces, as the non-addicted spouse probably dealt with their partner’s addiction for some time and reached a point of irreparable damage, while those who recover from addiction feel slighted and betrayed that their spouse would leave them once they were sober.

Finally, because of the close associations of addiction and domestic violence, some marriages end in divorce after the non-addicted party has sustained serious, life-long psychological, physical and possibly sexual damage. According to, “Statistics on the positive correlation between domestic violence and addiction range from forty-four percent, according to the New Jersey Uniform Crime Report of 1989, to more than eighty percent in some research studies.” (3) Because these issues are often severe for both parties, drug addiction treatment generally involves therapy for both the addict and the non-addict; even if a divorce is imminent.

If you and your spouse are nearing the end of your marriage because of a drug addiction problem, please pick up the phone and call us now for a free, confidential consultation with no obligation whatsoever. We understand that your marriage or dissolution thereof is a major part of your life, but we also understand that relationships do not work when addiction is a factor. Call us right now to find out what you can do to end this vicious cycle.

(1) Divorce Law Firms The Link Between Addiction and Divorce
Accessed 07/20/2011

(2) Van Tine, Nancy R. Addiction and Divorce 04/20/2011 Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor
Accessed 07/19/2011

(3) Robert Mackey, Ph.D., C.A.C., DVS Rutgers University Study – Domestic Violence and Addiction
Facts on: Alcohol, Drugs and Domestic Violence
Accessed 07/20/2011

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