Addiction is a terrible disease that impacts everyone—from the addict to the people that love him or her. After years with your spouse, the person in front of you faintly resembles the person you married. Being married to an addict is difficult and could have you contemplating divorce.

You Are Not Alone: Addiction In The United States

There are as many addictions as there are types of people in the world. The statistics are staggering. In the United States there are 311,591,917 people. With that number in mind, here is a breakdown of some of the most common addictions:

Regardless of what your spouse is addicted to, it is important to note that addictions are progressive. Based on the numbers above, there are likely to be millions of suffering spouses as well.

The Battle With The Addict

Unlike getting a diagnosis of heart disease or cancer, where survival instincts kick in, addiction is often self-defeating. If the addict doesn't realize he or she has a problem—or, more frustrating, completely denies it—how do you know if you should stay?

Reading this article is evidence that you're aware there is a problem, and are presumably without a clear-cut solution. There are outside influences that can impact an addiction, and certain addictions like alcoholism can be tied to genetics.

Questions To Help Your Decision

Asking yourself the following questions can help aid in a very difficult decision-making process:

  • Is anyone's safety immediately in question? If your answer is “yes," leaving now is the only option. Leaving for safety reasons does not mean the end of your marriage; it shows you are taking the steps necessary to protect yourself and your children. Your primary responsibility is to make sure you are safe emotionally, physically, mentally and sexually. There are shelters in most communities if you don't want to go to family or friends.
  • How long has the problem been going on? If safety is not an issue and the addiction is new, confronting the addict may be a better option than leaving. There are numerous rehab options today that weren't available just a few years ago. If you suspect that your spouse has an addiction, investigate rehab/treatment options. Many addicts have gone to rehab and learned how to overcome their addiction due to the encouragement of loved ones.
  • Is your spouse involved in other illegal behaviors? This can include stealing, dealing or producing drugs (like meth), driving while under the influence, abuse of prescription medications and other related crimes. You may want to leave before you are caught in the middle.
  • Are you a contributing factor to the addiction? Stop and look at your (and family members') choices. If you are helping the addict financially, covering for them or putting on a “happy face" to hide what is going on to outsiders only perpetuates the addiction.

Deciding whether to stay in a marriage with an addict or to leave is difficult. The first concern is your safety. It is your responsibility to make sure you and your children are safe.