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Domestic Voilence

What Do You Do if Your Spouse Has a Substance Abuse Problem?

What do you do if your spouse has a substance abuse problem and it is affecting  your marriage? Or your children? First, assess whether you, or your children are in danger. If you are, your first phone call should be to the police. Your second phone call should likely be to a lawyer.

If you and your children are not in danger, then you may have the luxury of at least a small amount of time to assess your options. First, do you know for sure that your spouse has a substance abuse problem? Or is it an assumption? If it is only an assumption at this point, you should consider having a conversation with your spouse to discuss your concerns. However, if you have proof that your spouse is abusing a substance, you may need to take a stronger stance during your conversation with him or her.Divorcing an Alcoholic or Substance Abusing Spouse

You should also assess how you are defining a “problem.” If someone is completely against alcohol, he or she may think that a person who has one glass of wine each day has a problem.  However, if someone regularly imbibes herself, then she may not think someone has a problem even if they have multiple drinks each day. It’s all about perspective, since people usually tend to define a bell curve based on what they themselves consider average.

It may also be helpful to consider what exactly this problem affects. For example, is your spouse incapable of going to work because she sleeps in too late? Or is he irritable with your children if he hasn’t had his “fix” yet? You may want to make a list of these concerns so that you can clearly present your thoughts when you confront your spouse.  In addition to a list of your concerns, and an explanation as to how the problem affects you, and/or your children, you should also create a game plan in advance of any conversation you have. You should know your end game. Are you trying to get your spouse into treatment? Or have you already been down that road and are now seeking a divorce? Are you concerned about your spouse caring for your children outside of your presence? Are you concerned about her ability to drive and the possibility of endangering herself or someone else?

If all of this seems overwhelming to you, then you may want to consider speaking with a lawyer.  A family law attorney can help you assess your options, assess your safety, as well as that of your children and discuss potential investigative options if necessary (such as hiring a personal investigator, utilizing SoberLink, etc.).


If you have any questions pertaining to how to confront your spouse about substance abuse during a divorce, or if you feel as though you need a restraining order to protect you or your children, contact us and let Wolf & Shore Law Group go to work for you and help make your family law matter easier, not harder. Ever Argue with a Woman? Click here, call us at 203.745.315, or email us at

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