Individuals who struggle with alcohol addiction—or any sort of substance addiction— have a tougher time than most when it comes to maintaining a stable marriage. This isn’t news. Most folks would rightly guess that heavy drinking goes hand-in-hand with marital difficulties. What’s less understood, though, is the full range of consequences that alcohol addiction can bring about.
By some estimates, the divorce rate for those with alcohol addiction is three times greater than it is for the general population. In fact, nearly 50 percent of such married individuals ultimately end up divorcing. (The rates may be higher still when the wife is the one with the addiction.)
The alcohol itself isn’t the only problem. It’s what drinking leads to: Poor communication; persistent tension in the marital home; irresponsible parenting; dishonesty; in extreme cases, domestic violence. Few relationships can withstand such pressures.
The stigma makes things worse
Because of the stigma associated with alcohol addiction, individuals often find themselves at a disadvantage during divorce proceedings. Although the link between substance abuse and domestic abuse has not been fully validated by research – the connection is complicated, to say the least – family courts often presume that heavy alcohol users are prone to violence. As such, they often receive unfair consideration in child custody and visitation proceedings. This can have a devastating effect on children and parents alike. Likewise, as judges often find alcohol users to be ‘at fault,’ they may not be treated equally in matters involving the couples’ finances.
Leveling the playing field
But an alcohol addiction doesn’t need to sabotage one’s entire domestic life. It’s possible, during divorce, to assert one’s interests and rights. Working with a qualified attorney is often the first step toward fair treatment.
Namely, an experienced lawyer will know how to present the full scope of an individual’s character in court, and can leverage the legal system to obtain the best possible outcomes. Likewise, an attorney can help guide individuals with alcohol addiction to relevant treatment programs – which the courts look on favorably, thereby leading to fairer consideration.
Obtaining help when you most need it
An alcohol addiction will affect all aspects of one’s life. Understanding the consequences and seeking treatment when it’s available are important to regaining control.