How to Stay Sober While Going Through a Divorce

September 4, 2017

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Stay Sober

Divorce is tough. Even when you wanted to end or dissolve a marriage, it comes with all kinds of difficulties: children, belongings, finances…handling all of these details while maintaining a job. Divorce is categorized as one of the most stressful possible life events. But since as much as 50% of all marriages end in divorce, lots of people do know what you are going through. When substances are involved, or maybe for someone recently in recovery from addiction, divorce can make it harder to stay sober for an individual.

Of course, that doesn’t always mean that people are understanding. Sometimes, even when a divorce is a relief, the toughest part is dealing with the reactions and opinions of friends and family about your relationship. If you have dealt with alcohol or drug abuse in the past, the stress of divorce can make it really easy to want to take back up those old habits, to make an escape, or to otherwise find a way out.

But you can stay sober while going through a divorce. You can come out the other side stronger, healthier, and more resolved to make a better future for yourself.

Here’s how.

When Your Spouse is an Addict

Addiction complicates relationships. Maybe you were both addicted when you got together, and you got help but your spouse did not. Maybe one of you became an addict while you were together.

However it went, if your soon-to-be-ex is an addict, you’ve likely dealt with:

  • Emotional or physical abuse — Though not true of every relationship, addiction increases the likelihood of domestic violence or other forms of abuse.
  • Financial instability — When you are the spouse of an addict, money and deceit can go hand in hand because alcohol or drug abuse are expensive habits.
  • Constant worry and concern — Sometimes addiction and divorce go together simply because of the constant worry for the safety of your addicted spouse.
  • Repeated attempts to seek help — You may have tried to push your spouse to get help, or you may have both sought help, but often you’ve made many repeated attempts before you realize you just want to end the relationship.

At some point, you may have come to the realization that your relationship was enabling addiction. Enabling means making it possible for something to happen. In therapeutic terms, it means doing something for someone they should do for themselves, or, (even unintentionally) providing the means, authority or permission for someone to use.

When you provide financial resources to an addict when you forgive offense after offense when you do your best to protect others from the consequences of your addicted spouse’s behavior…when you do these and so many other seemingly simple gestures, you make it possible for addiction to continue. That’s a tough realization to come to, but when you do, and when it leads to divorce, it can mean the restoration of your own future and sanity — free from the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs.

When You Need Help to Stay Sober

Everyone needs help sometimes. As John Donne said, “No man is an island.” When going through potentially difficult life changes, like seeking sobriety and divorce, you may need others more than ever. Yet, unfortunately, those can be the very times when it feels like friends and family turn their back on you.

Here’s your guide to getting sober help while going through a divorce:

  • Choose real friends — The truth is, most of your friends and family do not know what your relationship was really like. They don’t mean to judge. But look for the ones who offer genuine support and kindness. Focus on your real friends.
  • Take care of your body — It can be easy to want to eat badly, go out instead of getting enough rest, drop exercise, or otherwise fail to take care of your body. But taking care of your physical health goes a long way to preserving your mental state. Make it a priority.
  • Keep a routine — Go to bed on time. Eat at regular meal times. Go to work. Keep your routine and it can help you keep your sanity.
  • Keep going — Divorce can take a long time, especially depending on the state in which you live. Even after you divide things up and sign the paperwork, if you have children or other factors, you may have many years of interaction instead of a simple, clean break. Persist in your plan, in your friendships, in your self-care. Sometimes the best thing you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going.

Get Professional Help to Stay Sober

If you are dealing with addiction and divorce, it may be a great time to get professional help. It is possible to stay sober while going through a divorce. It’s even possible to emerge from the other side of the end of a relationship feeling stronger, healthier, and more determined than ever to make a better future. Start your new beginning with us.

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