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A Partner Who is Addicted to Alcohol or Drugs

By: James Bloom - Updated: 17 Apr 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Marriage Relationship Divorce Breaking

If your partner is an alcoholic or drug abuser there are many ways in which you can take action to help them. You may find it difficult getting them to quit without the involvement of a specialist self-help organisation. If you or your children are experiencing abuse or violence then you should take immediate action to protect yourselves (read our article Escaping Abusive Relationships for more information).

Managing Your Behaviour

If your partner is having problems with drink or drugs it is only natural that you should want to help them. Their behaviour has an emotional effect on you and your family. Therefore it is easy to find yourself being dragged into the problems they are creating. But their abuse is their problem alone. The better you can behave with this idea in mind the better able they will be to take responsibility for their actions.

The basic rule is to try to stay detached. Of course this can be difficult and you may find yourself playing a role towards your partner. This in turn could help fuel their pattern of abuse. The typical roles partners find themselves playing unwittingly as a response to substance addiction fall into a few basic categories:

  • The Rescuer – If he falls asleep on the lawn she will tidy him up and carry him into bed. She will lie to neighbours to avoid embarrassment. Anything to stop things becoming ‘a problem’.
  • The Provoker – She will wait for him to come home and give him hell. She will scold, belittle and nag him, tell her friends what a loser he is and threaten to leave. She never lets it go.
  • The Martyr – She is ashamed of him and lets him see that she is. She sulks, pouts and cries to her friends (if she's not too embarrassed). She will become increasingly depressed and withdrawn as the abuse continues.
Spotting your own behaviour is an important step in making the necessary changes for yourself and the relationship. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing so and get on with the painful process of spotting it when you are actually doing it. You may find it easy to detach, or you might find it very hard to do. At the end of the day it will be of benefit to yourself and your family, no matter how immediately painful it might seem.

Organisations That Can Help

Your partner will probably find it helpful to contact an organisation that specialises in substance abuse to change their behaviour. Obviously, alcohol or drug dependencies will produce different behaviour and symptoms. There a number of organisations that specialise in helping with specific forms of abuse, and they share similar methodologies. www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk and www.al-anonuk.org.uk both provide help relating to alcohol abuse. If you find it hard persuading your partner to see them, you can go along yourself for a family group meeting. The meetings provide a useful forum in which to gain understanding and feel understood. Participants refer to having acquired ‘true perspective’ or ‘serenity’ as a result. Alcoholics Anonymous also have a helpline: 0845 769 7555.

Narcotics Anonymous (www.ukna.org) provide a similar service for drug abusers. As with the above organisations, there is a spiritual aspect to their programme, but it is independent of any particular faith. You can go along and observe as a non-addict, but will not be able to contribute to the discussion. For immediate advice over the phone you can call the National Drugs Helpline on 0800 776 600.

Talking About it

Unless your relationship is so bad that you find it impossible to talk your partner, you should arrange to sit down and discuss the problem in an open and honest way. Give each other time to talk and show that you have listened and understood. Setting a precedent of openness creates an environment in which problems can be more easily solved. If you are thinking about separation, it will also help you to maintain a civil relationship through the divorce process.

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The idea that the family of an alcoholic or an addict must wait for them to have completely extinguished their desire to remain inebriated, stoned or high and for them to become ready to recover from their addictive disease is why so many alcoholics and addicts die before they’re ever been introduced to recovery and an alternative lifestyle filled with the riches and warm opportunities most of Western civilization takes for granted. Remember that everything can happen, either one way or the other, but it is us who control how we react to it. Things do not come to us from outside, our lives are what we create. Therefore, we need to remain attentive and not sweep things under the rug. Pay close attention to your actions, to your daily habits, to the routines, notice even small changes, take note of what and why things happen, be proactive, choose wisely the people you surround yourself with, mind the language you use, take good care of your mental and physical well-being. These things might sound very general but when you look closely they matter each step of the journeyin those crazy times. If you want more information, check this book - net-bossorg/how-to-help-an-alcoholic-you-love
DaphneM - 17-Apr-20 @ 5:00 PM
My partner is an alcoholic & has relapsed after 2 year, he’s been drinking since before Christmas 2019, he’s also been taking oxazapam & diazepam to help, I can’t have him In the house anymore because I have my children to take care off & also myself & I’m in remission for cancer
Liz - 29-Mar-20 @ 2:52 PM
Having just written a long message and it disappearing I will stick to bullet points: 1. married 24 years, wife an alcoholic for past 4-6 years (plus plethora of OTC drugs/sleeping aids/anti depressants etc) 2. we have a 14 year old and a mildly aspergic 20 years old living at home 3. wife isn't violent or abusive but her rude, disorganised, messy, destructive behaviour upsets the boys - she often disappears to bed early afternoon and doesn't appear again 4. I have a new job which takes me away most weeks and i know she's not able to function as a mother 3/4 times a week. 5. My eldest gets very angry at her behaviour as he needs a calm, tidy and organised environment to be able to function normally 6. She went into rehab for 1 month pre xmas but hasn't been able to sustain it once home 7. we did agree that if she continued on this path i would ask her to leave for the childrens sake - she agreed at the time but not now 8.Me walking out is simply not an option as the children would suffer unfairly Here is my question: Is removing her from the house (she can of course access the kids as much as she wants as long as she's sober/narcotic free) a viable option?
601 - 26-Jan-20 @ 6:32 PM
Hi I have been married 24.5 years. Two children 14 and 20, both at home. The eldest has mild to moderate Aspergers Syndrome. My wife has been an alcoholic for several years and combines that with painkillers and other OTC drugs plus anti depressants. She's not violent to anyone but is rarely able to function as a mother. She spent a month in rehab just before Xmas which went well but it only lasted a week or two once she was home despite good intentions. She is a lovely lady generally and whilst I do not want her to suffer, it is without doubt affecting the children - legally that's only the 14 year old as my our other son is classed as an adult despite him needing a calm, clean and organised environment to function well. I have finally had enough and I don't wish to be with my wife any more and for the children's sake I'd like her to leave. My job takes me abroad regularly and I am constantly worried about what's happening or not happening at home (food left out, no meals made for the boys, candles left on, oven left on) as well as the damage her being incapacitated has on the children. Me walking out isn't an option as I would not leave the boys in that environment. In an ideal world she'd agree to live elsewhere locally and have as much access to the boys as she wants as long as she is clean and sober. Is getting her removed from the house a viable option?
601 - 26-Jan-20 @ 6:14 PM
Hi I have been married 24.5 years. Two children 14 and 20, both at home. The eldest has mild to moderate Aspergers Syndrome. My wife has been an alcoholic for several years and combines that with painkillers and other OTC drugs plus anti depressants. She's not violent to anyone but is rarely able to function as a mother. She spent a month in rehab just before Xmas which went well but it only lasted a week or two once she was home despite good intentions. She is a lovely lady generally and whilst I do not want her to suffer, it is without doubt affecting the children - legally that's only the 14 year old as my our other son is classed as an adult despite him needing a calm, clean and organised environment to function well. I have finally had enough and I don't wish to be with my wife any more and for the children's sake I'd like her to leave. My job takes me abroad regularly and I am constantly worried about what's happening or not happening at home (food left out, no meals made for the boys, candles left on, oven left on) as well as the damage her being incapacitated has on the children. Me walking out isn't an option as I would not leave the boys in that environment. In an ideal world she'd agree to live elsewhere locally and have as much access to the boys as she wants as long as she is clean and sober. Is getting her removed from the house a viable option?
601 - 26-Jan-20 @ 6:14 PM
I have been married for 35 years, the last 10 of which my wife has been an alcoholic - lately worse than ever before. Is alcoholism grounds for divorce? She says that she will not divorce me as she does not wish to share her assets and capital which are superior to mine. She refuses to get help. Desperate! Please help.
Hipster - 2-Nov-19 @ 4:24 PM
I have been married for 36 years this year and my husband has had a drinking problem for the duration.His drinking is now seriously out of control, though I can’t prove it I suspect he is now drinking at work.He is extremely verbally abusive, to cope I spend more money than I earn, basically I have debts.We still live together but have separate bedrooms, haven’t had a physical relationship in over 10 years.I can’t stand him, feel guilty because I just wish him dead. I am now at the end of my tether and just want to be on my own, can anyone please advise what my starting point is to make changes.I am so ashamed of his behaviour and don’t have anyone to confide in.
Evie - 23-Apr-19 @ 9:13 PM
Hi I am currently I'll with bipolar and rhumatoid athritis.I work f/time in arts industry as well as bar work and other freelance work.My partner of four years is a semi functioning alcoholic. He also works ((VERY occasionally! ) in entertainment industry.Most nights I come home to him drunk..staring at tv...he insists i bank all my wages into joint account as I'm "useless with money"...i Have to justify how I spend from account..he books holidays etc and I'm now in debt with rent. House is in my name and if I throw him out he will be homeless. .. he makes me feel guilty for this...but i dont Want someone draining me financially and emotionally. . He refuses to acknowledge he has a problem..won't communicate and leaves me angry and frustrated. It is making me ill. . I dont drink alcohol at all...even socially. But I'm set to lose everything if I dint get rid of him...too late for change. Just don't want drama if I throw him out
Protopunklass - 23-Sep-18 @ 8:35 AM
Trinity - Your Question:
I want to divorce my alcoholic husband but can't afford to leave as I don't have regular work. He has a well paid, full time job and could afford to move out. Our mortgage is paid off and I have asked him to leave me the house and I will not touch his rather substantial pension, which is worth more than the value of the house. Where do I stand with this?

Our Response:
Regardless of whether you work or not, everything is still considered jointly owned unless the marriage has been short. It may be worth you seeking legal advice to explore your rights.
DivorceResource - 14-May-18 @ 10:59 AM
I want to divorce my alcoholic husband but can't afford to leave as I don't have regular work. He has a well paid, full time job and could afford to move out. Our mortgage is paid off and I have asked him to leave me the house and I will not touch his rather substantial pension, which is worth more than the value of the house. Where do I stand with this?
Trinity - 13-May-18 @ 10:17 AM
Daz - Your Question:
I need to divorce my drug addicted wife with whom I have not lived with for 2 n half yrs I want to divorce her but she says no do I have to wait the 5yr period thnx

Our Response:
If the papers have formally been served and your ex is ignoring the papers, then you can ask the court to proceed with the divorce without your ex's approval. It helps if you have evidence that she has received the papers and is ignoring them. It also helps if you are using the grounds of unreasonable behaviour to justify your reasons.
DivorceResource - 6-Mar-17 @ 11:15 AM
I need to divorce my drug addicted wife with whom I have not lived with for 2 n half yrs I want to divorce her but she says nodo I have to wait the 5yr period thnx
Daz - 5-Mar-17 @ 9:54 AM
Memaw - Your Question:
Prior to our 7 yr marriage, my husband introduced me to a drug. I became hooked. I had quit the drug, but he never would! Last year we split up. I came clean with my family and friends about our problem. After about 3 weeks, I allowed him to move back home.with the stipulation that me could no longer do this drug.nor have it on my property (premarital property). Over the last 2 weeks I have videoed him doing the drug at my home. When I felt I had enough proof, I took his stash and confronted him. He lied repeatedly. He doesn't know I recorded his actions. I told him I know he's not telling me the truth and I wanted him to find a place and move out. Not hateful.just done. He refuses to move out. Short of taking the drugs and videos to the police, how can I make him leave?

Our Response:
You may be able to apply for an occupation order through the courts. An occupation order temporarily excludes one partner from the home. However, you'll need to show the court that it's appropriate for your partner to be excluded. For example, you may have to show that there's a risk of harm to yourself or your children. If you do get an occupation order, you can change the locks while the order is ongoing. The fact you own the house and your husband doesn't may also help your situation. But legal advice is needed here in order to ensure you are within your rights in whatever action you decide to take.
DivorceResource - 12-Aug-16 @ 10:07 AM
Prior to our 7 yr marriage, my husband introduced me to a drug... I became hooked. I had quit the drug, but he never would!Last year we split up.I came clean with my family and friends about our problem.After about 3 weeks, I allowed him to move back home...with the stipulation that me could no longer do this drug...nor have it on my property (premarital property).Over the last 2 weeks I have videoed him doing the drug at my home.When I felt I had enough proof, I took his stash and confronted him.He lied repeatedly.He doesn't know I recorded his actions. I told him I know he's not telling me the truth and I wanted him to find a place and move out.Not hateful....just done.He refuses to move out.Short of taking the drugs and videos to the police, how can I make him leave?
Memaw - 11-Aug-16 @ 3:28 AM
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