Addressing Substance Abuse in a Relationship

In Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Lying. Cheating. Drinking in the morning. Long absences and frequent disappearances. Stealing to buy drugs. Selling property to buy drugs. Domestic violence. Impaired judgment. Criminal conduct. Driving while impaired. Child neglect and endangerment. Losing employment. Health problems.

If you are married to an addict, all of the aforementioned traits may be very familiar. Simply put, alcohol and drug abuse ruin relationships. This is because substance abusers lie to protect their addiction and make their addiction the top priority in their lives. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for you, your children, and your plans.

Seeking Professional Help

You have options and there is no shame in seeking help for your spouse. If you or your spouse is employed, you should first contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which may cover a drug treatment program, hospitalization, or therapy with little to no initial cost to you.

Another resource is Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is a national, 24-hour helpline that can refer you to local drug and alcohol treatment resources. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous offer free twelve step programs, which have proven effective for many addicts.

Further, you must exercise self-care. Contact your EAP about counseling for you, as a professional can guide you through your emotions and help you find the tools to make decisions and move forward with your life. In addition, many people find Al Anon to be incredibly helpful, as it provides support systems for families of addicts to communicate and relate to one another.

A Divorce from Bed and Board

Despite your most valiant efforts to help your spouse seek appropriate treatment, it is okay to say “enough is enough”. This is because your spouse’s addiction is more powerful than you. North Carolina’s General Statutes allow for a legal proceeding called “divorce from bed and board”. Despite its name, this is not actually a “divorce”, but a court ordered separation. Essentially, an injured spouse must demonstrate that the other spouse has become “an excessive user of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and the life of that spouse burdensome.”

The purpose of seeking a divorce from bed and board is to obtain a temporary order from the court, which establishes living arrangements, keeps the other spouse out of the household, creates a restraining order, protects property, establishes child support, and sets out custody and visitation arrangements.

New Direction Family Law

At New Direction Family Law, we know the impact that substance abuse has on family systems and take it very seriously. If you are interested in discussing your legal options to protect yourself, your children, and your property, call us. You and your children have legal rights to protect your safety and stability, and our attorneys have the knowledge and desire to help you fulfill your goals. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit our website.

Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law

New Direction Family Law
(919) 719-3470