The Influence of Addiction on Marital Problems

The Influence of Addiction on Marital ProblemsMarriage and addiction can be closely related. Relationship stress may cause a person to self-medicate or mask emotions with alcohol or drugs, while living with an addict causes an array of problems for both the addicted individual and the spouse. Marriage can survive addiction, but recovery requires professional treatment and support for both partners.

Marriage and Addiction Enabling

Spouses may unwittingly enable their husband or wife’s addiction. In the Huffington Post article, “Addiction and Divorce” (2012), Henry Gornbein writes, “in many marriages where one spouse is the addict, the other spouse becomes the enabler.” Enabling often comes from a good place and a desire to help a loved one, but it is a practice that allows addiction to continue and harms all parties involved. Partners may fear their addicted spouses will leave or get in trouble if they stop protecting them and instead set consequences for continued use and refusal to seek help. However, addiction is a progressive disease. Engaging in enabling behaviors such as denying the extent of the problem or defending a spouse’s behavior only allows your partner to continue in addiction and creates a bigger rift in your relationship.

How Marriage Problems Contribute to Addiction

The Reasons for Spread of Addiction in Rural Regions,” published in the Spring 2013 issue of Human Geography Research Quarterly, lists the following as reasons addiction develops in rural areas:

  • Unemployment
  • Easy access to drugs
  • Addicted friends and family members
  • Family problems
  • Stress
  • Failed marriage

Marital problems fall under the categories of family problems, stress, failed marriage and addicted partners. Half of more of the biggest contributors to addiction can be related to marriage and associated problems.

Marriage also puts the non-addicted spouse at risk for developing substance abuse problems. “Spouses of Older Adults With Late-Life Drinking Problems: Health, Family, and Social Functioning,” published in the July 2010 issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that “spouses of continuing problem drinkers consumed more alcohol, incurred more alcohol-related consequences, and had friends who approved more of drinking. Overall, spouses whose…partners consumed more alcohol and had drinking problems were likely to consume more alcohol and to have drinking problems themselves.” Leaving addiction untreated puts all parties at risk for the serious personal, health and professional consequences of addiction.

Treating Addiction

If you or your spouse is struggling with addiction, please call our toll-free helpline. We are here 24 hours a day to connect you to resources for family mediation and addiction treatment. You and your family can recover, but it takes professional help. Call today.

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