The Effects of Substance Abuse on Marriage

Addiction is a disease nobody is truly immune to, and those who struggle with addiction have been stigmatized heavily. In reality, addicts are people struggling with mental health issues and feel they have nowhere else to turn. Ben, Kate, and Susan were joined again by Dr. Elizabeth Cohen on this week’s live stream celebrating National Recovery Month to discuss the effects of substance abuse on marriage and divorce. 

National Recovery Month was created to educate Americans that substance abuse treatment and mental health services can enable those who struggle with both. Despite 31 years of celebrating those who are living in recovery, there is still so much that society has to learn about addiction. This highly stigmatized struggle is directly related to mental health problems. Addiction happens when people feel like they have no way to cope with their emotions. While it can make any aspect of life hard, it has a unique relationship with divorce. 

Here are a few things you need to know about addiction and how it parallels divorce:

– Substance abuse recovery and divorce recovery are more alike than you think. It revolves around the question “how am I going to get to where I’m happy again?” The question should be “how am I going to get through today?” Because when it comes down to it, it’s about the small wins. You have to take it slow and be gentle with yourself. Otherwise, you will constantly feel defeated and not stay on your journey to recovery. 

Don’t say “it’s going to be okay”. People struggling with substance abuse have feelings of desperation and hopelessness. Nothing seems like it’s going to be okay to them right now, and you saying “it will be okay” trivializes their feelings. You wouldn’t say to a spouse “you’ll be fine” if they’re opening up to you. You wouldn’t say to your co-parent “this will pass” if they’re struggling with your child. So make sure you’re clear on supporting and being there for the other person. 

It’s often very taboo to discuss suicide, but it’s a tough conversation needs to happen. Just because you mention suicide does not mean you’re going to give the person that idea. If somebody is truly struggling and has turned to drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, they’ve probably already had the thought cross their mind. Bringing it up shows you care. 

– The courts are not equipped to handle addiction. Going through one of the biggest life and financial decisions while you are in the midst of a personal life crisis can make both situations harder. The court system will get it’s hooks into you and direct you down a path that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. In the same way of taking time to process your divorce, processing your addiction and mental health problems can save you money and grief. 

The effects of substance abuse on marriage can be tremendous, but with the right support and guidance, recovery is possible.

To watch other live streams from Our Happy Divorce, visit our Youtube page.

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To learn more about Kate Anthony and The Divorce Survival Guide, visit her on Facebook and Instagram or visit Listen to her podcast at:

Discover more about Susan Guthrie and The Divorce and Beyond Podcast on Facebook and Instagram or at Listen to the Divorce and Beyond Podcast here:

For more information on Dr. Elizabeth Cohen, visit her Facebook or her website Listen to her podcast, Off the Couch, here:

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