Is it time to divorce a spouse with an addiction?

Addiction doesn't just affect the addict -- it affects the addict's entire family. If your spouse has a substance abuse problem and is addicted to drugs or alcohol, at what point do you decide that you can't stay married any longer?

There's no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, you have to make the decision, but here are some questions to ask yourself when you're considering divorcing an addict:

1. Have you already threatened your spouse with divorce?

You may have already told your spouse that you'll seek a divorce if he or she doesn't seek treatment. As long as you continue to "hang in there," your threats won't have any meaning.

2. Are you supporting your spouse's addiction?

Many spouses of addicts end up inadvertently supporting their spouse's addiction. Whether you provide an income or just make excuses when your spouse is incapacitated, you may be making it too easy for your spouse's behavior to continue.

3. Do you need to remove your children from the situation?

If your children are exposed to danger, neglect or abuse because of your spouse's addiction, divorce may be the only possible solution. As much as you love your spouse, your priority has to be focused around the well-being and safety of your children.

4. Do you need to remove yourself from the situation?

If you've already given the marriage your best effort and tried hard to get your spouse to seek help, it wouldn't be unusual for you to feel depressed and miserable. In the long run, your spouse's addiction has the potential to wreck your emotional health -- and that's worth protecting.

5. Is your spouse's addiction destroying you financially?

If your spouse is running up bills and spending every dime on his or her habit, the only way you may be able to preserve yourself financially is through a divorce. Even if you remain emotionally available to your spouse, a divorce will allow you to separate your assets and finances.

It's important to remember that divorce doesn't mean that you're abandoning your spouse. In reality, you're simply choosing to protect your own future.

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