Substance abuse typically results in increasing problems with work performance, meeting responsibilities and maintaining relationships. The most common form of substance abuse is binge drinking, which results in a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher after two hours of drinking.

Researchers have found important links between substance abuse and divorce. One study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that an increase in consumption of one liter per capita increases the divorce rate by about 20 percent.1 Conversely, an increase of .0001 in the divorce rate brings about a 10 percent increase in alcohol consumption.

Substance Abuse and the Quality of a Marriage

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence calls addiction a “family disease,” because it takes a toll on each member of the family and leads to dysfunction within the family system.2

Family members develop unhealthy coping mechanisms when faced with the chaos that is common in a home where a parent is addicted. A spouse and children of an addicted individual often have extra duties at home to compensate for the spouse or parent’s neglect of responsibilities. Reality is bent as family members endure frightening or unsettling experiences and as abnormal behaviors by the addicted family member become normalized. Substance abuse and divorce are both linked to numerous problems for the couple’s children.

Spouses of addicted individuals may have to cope with financial problems related to the substance abuse or addiction, such as their addicted spouse spending the mortgage on drugs or getting fired from a job. They may be subject to physical, emotional or sexual abuse by the addicted individual. They may try to hide their spouse’s addiction from friends or family members, which can cause a great deal of stress and lead to social isolation.

Additionally, the relationship itself is often lacking. Men who are addicted to alcohol are more likely than men who aren’t to have a poor relationship with their wives. Additionally, they and their wives report less sexual satisfaction and more sexual dysfunction, including impotence, according to a paper published by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.3

These issues cause a great deal of stress for the non-addicted spouse, and they lead to unhealthy habits, harmful ways of thinking and a low quality of life. It’s not surprising then that, according to the previously mentioned study, nearly half of these marriages end in divorce.

Substance Abuse and Divorce: The Effects on Children

Substance abuse and divorce are inextricably intertwined. In fact, their connection spans generations. Children of addicted parents are less likely to marry, more likely to cohabit with a partner and more likely to have been divorced than their counterparts, according to CASA.

Divorce itself also has a negative effect on children. Children whose parents are divorced are more likely than their two-parent counterparts to use drugs or alcohol, and they’re more likely to have behavioral and mental-health problems down the road.

Treatment Can Help End the Cycle of Substance Abuse and Divorce

Despite the strong link between substance abuse and divorce, many people are able to successfully recover from a substance use disorder and save their marriage. Treatment works to end substance abuse, addiction and dependence, and it helps improve marriages and restore function of the family system. If your loved one’s addiction is affecting their marriage, a high-quality treatment program can help.

Help heal your family today. Call (855) 945-7788.