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12 Steps to Divorcing a Drug Addict
1. Trust God. The universe is governed by divine power. Believe in the power of prayer and hear the answer. Throughout my family’s life, I prayed for strength to get through a very difficult time. I’m not an addict myself, so I don’t understand putting chemicals in my body and holding those chemicals in places that are more important than my family. I just don’t get it, but ultimately, if your spouse won’t get professional help for their drug or alcohol addiction, it’s probably time to go. I was so scared I felt I had no choice but to leave to protect myself (and my children). At first I was dumbfounded (I still am) that he would choose drugs over us and his family, but THIS is his choice. Although I cannot control her choices, I can influence her choices and I can control HOW I react to those choices. So I pray a lot.
2. Get legal advice – Know that everything an addict says, no matter how sincere it may seem, is because of the drug. Whether the conversation is about children or money, don’t believe what the addict says. An expert told me that when breaking up with a drug addict, you MUST face the fact that you are dating an addict! You (and children, if there are children) are no longer the primary focus of the spouse with a drug or alcohol problem. Being in a drug addiction is very difficult for the other spouse to “fight”. (A friend of mine broke up with a partner who was a chronic “cheat” and he felt my situation was easier. Breaking up with an addict is like breaking up with a “cheat” – the trust is gone! gone – it’s gone!) So, unfortunately, unless the addict is ready to sign everything and just walk away, you must have legal representation. If your spouse wants to “give” everything to you, you should have an attorney and possibly an accountant advise you on any short-term, long-term and/or tax implications. Meet with friends or reach out online, get referrals from chat rooms, web forums, and even Twitter, which can direct you to websites that can help you do your research, but ultimately seek professional advice.
3. Get support from friends. Divorce is emotionally draining. Generally, your friends and family don’t want to hear this, but it’s really important to have someone who is willing to listen and just be supportive. Not guidance, just support.
4. Treatment. If you can see a therapist, I recommend doing so. A trained professional can help you understand the inner workings of the brain of a drug/alcoholic addict. And whether you want to hear it or not, you bear some level of responsibility in all of this. A therapist can help you see where you need to master this crisis. There are now studies that identify genes that can be identified in people with addiction. Maybe you need to face the fact that you were an “enabler”. Ultimately, the responsibility for addiction rests on the shoulders of the addict. Unless, of course, you hold your spouse and drug them into their system.
5. Blog. If you live in a bubble where you can’t see your friends, family, or doctors, I suggest you keep a blog or at the very least a journal. Even if you have friends and family, these support systems are, firstly, tired of hearing about your anger and frustration, and secondly, your friends and family may not know how to support you if they haven’t been through it. It’s one thing to have friends and family to help you through a divorce, but divorcing an addict is not the same as a “normal” “irreconcilable conflict” divorce. Go online and find other people fighting the same dragon, find chat rooms and forums to help you find lawyers, therapists, etc. in your area. It gives you the opportunity to talk to someone who understands and compares horror stories, and trust me, it can be a little fun over time. Maybe even funny.
6. Protect your credit. Any divorce will affect your credit score, and especially with today’s economic climate and problems with identity theft, protecting your identity and credit score is even more important. It’s not just directed at outsiders, and your spouse may be trying to harm you at times, not just for their own personal behavior. In a divorce, both parties have the potential (and motivation) to damage the other’s credibility. Horror stories of credit disasters of angry spouses keep floating around – …..swiping up a credit card in the other spouse’s name and walking away. Monitor your credit score and sign up for email counseling if there are any changes to your credit score.
7. Set up your new separate identity. If not now, it will be soon. So, there’s no time like the present to start using your name and identity. Begin by knowing yourself as YOU. Detaching yourself from your partner and allowing others to recognize you as the person you are on your own can help you feel more empowered. Consider going back to your first name.
8. Take your time. Decisions made now are important and impactful, even if they are not approved. Whether you decide to move to a new home or city, whether you choose one attorney over another. All these decisions are important. So choose wisely and be as informed as possible. Seek advice from all available sources, but remember that you are the one who has to deal with the long-term effects of your choices. So make your choice and decision wisely!
9. Don’t ask your friends for advice. Recognize that you shouldn’t ask your friends for advice because everything mentioned in number 8 is “set in stone.” Take your input, weigh it, and balance it with the information you find online, but know that your friends are biased. Unless your friends are trained professionals, their opinions may be sincere, but they may be completely wrong and biased in your situation. Take all the input and implement what works for your situation.
10. Insurance. Make sure all your insurance is up to date. Hospital, car, home, life. In my situation, for whatever reason (I think the process was overshadowed by drug and alcohol use) the car insurance didn’t pay and we drove without car insurance for months. It’s illegal in my state and it was reported to the state and opened another can of worms that ruined my credit score even more. So be responsible and make sure ALL your insurance is current.
11. Your finances. Your finances are a very important part of a divorce. If possible, I recommend planning ahead by saving up a little money before the divorce in case, unfortunately, things turn ugly. At least you’ll be able to earn SOME cash to get you through the tough road ahead. The money coming in should be more than the money going out, but it’s especially important during a divorce. Work hard to keep your credit cards in order. If possible, add to your savings plan every month.. You should be aware of the tax implications and long-term implications – things your attorney may not have experience with. Work with an accountant or divorce attorney for financial planning. expert. Hindsight is always 20/20, and in retrospect I realize that during our marriage we lived on one paycheck and earned another. I thought it was a great idea when I was married. But now, when he closes the bank account and takes all the money, I realize it’s not a good idea. We will hire an accountant.
12. Take care of yourself. Depending on how much time/emotion you have invested in your marriage, the road ahead will be taxing and difficult. Take time to rest and do whatever gives you “you” time. It’s important to make time for stress-relieving activities like walking, playing cards, horseback riding, yoga, reading, or playing the piano. Stress can be difficult to deal with at any time in your life, but especially during a divorce. The thing is, divorce can eat you up if you let it. So make time for yourself. Whether you do your hair, get your nails done, pamper yourself, know that no matter what anyone tells you, you are worth it. Taking care of yourself strengthens your energy, determination and determination.
At the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning) I watched Diary of a Mad Black Woman, I watched Enough, I watched Sleeping with the Enemy, and I recognized every episode. I realized that what these movies have in common in my marriage is a certain “system” of emotions. First comes fear, then anger, then anger, then fear again. More anger, more anger, then acceptance and resolution.. Through it all comes the desire to “hate” – eventually you come to the decision that these negative emotions are exacerbated by the Law of Attraction – so it’s healthier to allow them. (not easy – but healthier). The law of attraction is very clear and regardless of what you focus on, what you think will bring more into your life. Anger brings more anger, but conversely, peace brings more peace.
People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol do not use drugs or alcohol because of what you do, they use drugs or alcohol because of what is happening in their reality. Every time I opened an e-mail asking for an over-the-counter drug, I was frustrated – somehow I could easily hit the delete button. I can’t say the same to everyone – otherwise these websites wouldn’t survive. If you think it’s because you turned your spouse into an addict, you’re giving yourself too much credit. At some level, even an addict cannot control their behavior. Hopefully one day the addict will come to their senses and seek professional help to help them recover.
Another piece of information I would like to share is that I have been told that drug addicts will tell you that they are cured. In my personal story, this was certainly the case. Most drugs cannot be self-administered by an addict going “cold turkey.” Usually, these drugs need to be “detoxified” from the body using other drugs and treatment courses, which cannot be done in an outpatient setting. Once an addict is “cured,” that person’s life is “cured” forever. Any addiction, gambling, drinking, drug addiction… once you overcome an addiction, it’s always a challenge and you can trade one addiction for another! It’s really important to address addiction issues with a licensed professional and in a supervised setting.
So, let it go – don’t take their choices as personal, let them go no matter how hard it seems…and pray for them.
I am not a professional, so I recommend that you seek the advice of a licensed professional to help you make important decisions.
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