Alcohol use can come with severe costs. It can lead to legal issues, financial stress, unemployment, and cause serious health issues. It can also destroy families and wreak havoc on relationships. Each April, the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month to bring awareness and understanding of the causes and treatment of the nation’s most significant public health problem: alcoholism.
Alcohol use is one of the leading reasons couples file for divorce in the United States. While around 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, strong correlations exist between heavy alcohol use and divorce rates. (“Heavy alcohol use” is defined as six or more drinks consumed at one time or drinking until intoxicated.) When alcohol abuse is present in a household, the chances of divorce nearly triple.
Beyond the anxiety, stress, and worry that a sober spouse endures with daily drinking, they often experience traumatic events ranging from abuse, deceit, mental health issues like depression, and more.
According to a study by the National Library of Medicine, ongoing and regular drinking among couples showed lower quality marriages. Alcoholism can be considered grounds for divorce in states where at-fault divorces are legal, such as New York and Texas, and can change the course of how a divorce proceeds and impacts things like child custody and visitation. Hidden during the marriage, heavy drinking may surface during a divorce – often in court to protect minor children or gain child custody.
There are higher rates of divorce when a wife in a heterosexual marriage is the primary consumer of alcohol. Alcohol use and abuse have increased during the COVID pandemic, especially among women. According to a RAND Corporation study, during the pandemic, women increased their heavy drinking days by 41 percent compared to before the pandemic. This dangerous spike has added to the physical, social, and emotional damage that has swelled over the past two years, straining many marriages while coping with uncertainty and the complexity of the pandemic.
3 signs you’re abusing alcohol:
Your spouse becomes withdrawn and emotionally unavailable.
When this happens, the relationship often becomes less stable and more hostile. If one spouse drinks too much and the other is constantly on their case, both spouses can start withdrawing and become emotionally distant. When alcohol becomes the biggest problem in a marriage, other issues often escalate too.
Many physical illnesses can happen when a person abuses alcohol for a long time. Drinking too much causes hangovers and can lead to verbal abuse, risky behaviors, lack of patience, and severe health problems.
If your spouse is abusing alcohol, trouble starts showing up in multiple parts of their life. Not paying bills on time or spending money they don’t have can destroy your marriage. If you have joint accounts, your alcoholic’s financial irresponsibility is cause for concern regarding your credit score. Alcohol abuse often causes issues at work. Days missed from their job because of a hangover, or other health issues may result in losing their job. Eventually, your spouse might be unable to get a job or hold a job because they drink too much.
“The decision to dissolve a marriage is always painful, but the disease of alcohol addiction in women can be even more painful. Whether you’re an alcoholic woman who can’t stop drinking or a loved one of an alcoholic, the first step in recovery is foundationally associated with education and access to resources. These include residential recovery, detox, group meetings, structured programs, family support groups, and tools designed to help grow and sustain recovery. Alcoholism Awareness is the beginning of improving the quality of life for women, especially at the cusp of recovery in all aspects of life,” says Lisa, CEO of Magdalen House.
The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer.