Addiction is a serious problem and one that affects millions of families nationwide. Just turn on the news, and you’ll likely hear about the opioid abuse epidemic and the havoc it’s wreaking on the communities affected. And when it comes to protecting your family and yourself, sometimes the only option to deal with an addicted spouse is to get out.
Someone caught in a situation where they can no longer handle the pain and exhaustion of coping with an addicted family member may find themselves looking for a way out, but might not know where to start. That’s why we’re looking at some steps to take for someone in that position.
1. Don’t Make Empty Threats
There’s no doubt about it – some situations are just bad and the only solution is to walk away. There’s no shame in taking a stand for yourself and your family, and it isn’t abandonment or neglect to admit you aren’t equipped to deal with a problem this big.
The catch is, it’s important not to use divorce as a threat or ultimatum in a last-ditch effort to get someone to make lasting changes. Depending on the issue, walking away might be a last resort – but if that’s the choice you make, it’s important to stick with it.
2. Lawyer Up
Don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney and obtain legal representation or advice about your situation. Even if you’re still only considering a divorce or other legal action, consulting with an attorney to learn about your rights and options can be a valuable opportunity. If nothing else, retaining legal counsel early can be a huge resource during a very difficult time.
3. Secure Your Assets
One issue that is notorious for bringing addiction past the point of tolerance is money. Most addictions tend to be expensive and usually stand to cloud the person’s judgment, particularly when it comes to their spending habits.
Talking to your attorney about your options to protect your financial footing is another great reason to seek legal help early. Solutions might include placing money in a separate account that the addicted spouse doesn’t have access to and restricting or removing their access to jointly or individually held credit cards.
4. Find Support
The people who are most hurt by addiction are often those around the addict. Emotional manipulation, betrayal, and lies are extremely prevalent in these cases, and can lead to a lot of self-doubt and blame being shouldered unnecessarily. It’s important to remember that you are not the cause of your spouse’s addiction; and there are tons of resources and support systems you can tap into to help with that.
For example, you might reach out to your friends and loved ones to let them know you’re going through a rough time, and could use some extra support. You may also consider seeking individual or group counseling, to help you unpack your emotions and work through this difficult situation.