The Effects of Addiction on Families and Divorce


Those who suffer from addiction or those who grieve because their spouse is an addict know all too well the pain that accompanies the disease. Whether the individual has issues with drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping or other vices, the effect on families is the same. These destructive behaviors break trust, ruin finances, corrupt communication and cause divorce.

Broken Trust

When couples agree to marry, it should always be on the grounds of mutual respect and trust. If addiction enters into the relationship, one of the partners is no longer trustworthy in matters of priority. Healthy relationships thrive when both parties put the well-being of the marriage ahead of individual wants. Addicts prioritize their next fix above all else, damaging their relationship, oftentimes beyond repair.

Downed Communication Lines

When the spouse of an addict feels that he or she is of lower priority than their partner’s addiction, the ability to communicate effectively is greatly decreased. Anyone under the influence of drugs, alcohol or other substances is unable to communicate due to their impaired mental state. The preservation of marriages depends heavily on successful interaction, which is impossible when one of the parties is impaired some or most of the time. This causes deep hurt and resentment, and often leads to separation or divorce.

Bleak Finances

Many addictions are expensive. Street drugs, alcohol, shopping and gambling are all costly habits. When a marriage partner engages in their addiction over a long period of time, the finances of the entire family often suffer. Not only is income spent on the habit instead of necessary expenses, but the addict is often an ineffective provider. According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, addicts are more than twice as likely to have switched jobs three or more times during a calendar year. The combination of a poor ability to bring in income and excessive spending puts a huge strain on families and marriages.

A Leading Cause of Divorce

Numerous studies have confirmed that if one marriage partner drinks heavily, the couple is more likely to get divorced. Addictive behaviors increase selfish choices, which, in turn, decrease marital happiness. Fifty percent of couples cite communication difficulties as a cause for their divorce, with addictive behaviors exacerbating these communication issues.

Addiction plays a monumental role in modern divorces through its undermining of trust, finances and communication. Spouses who find themselves married to an addict suffer and often choose separation in order to seek solace from the destruction caused by addiction.

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