Addictions and divorce often go hand in hand. This is especially true when the partner with an addiction is in denial about it and the other partner decides life with an addict is intolerable.
Types of Addictions
Addiction comes in various forms, and people sometimes have more than one addiction. For example, a gambler may also be an alcoholic, or a drug addict may also have a sex addiction (such as internet pornography).
The website Livestrong.com lists 10 criteria for diagnosing pathological gambling and a person only needs to exhibit five or more characteristics to have a gambling addiction:
- Preoccupation with gambling
- Inability to stop gambling, despite best efforts
- Irritability when trying to cut back on gambling
- The need to wager larger sums
- Gambling to relieve stress or escape from problems
- Constant attempts to break even or recover losses
- Lying to others about the severity of the gambling problem
- Relying on others for money to pay gambling debts
- Risking personal or professional relationships due to gambling
- Committing crimes to enable gambling
Many of these characteristics could be applied to other addictions as well, for example, by substituting the word alcohol, drugs or pornography for gambling.
These characteristics are the red flags that alert a spouse to the problem and help them realize the problem they face is a partner who has an addiction.
Psychology Today published an article that estimated the number of people with addictions in the United States:
- 12-13 million alcoholics
- 1-2 million cocaine addicts
- 8 million with eating disorders
- 2 million pathological gamblers
- 4-6 million problem gamblers
Addiction doesn’t always make divorce inevitable, especially if the addict is willing to go through treatment and overcomes the addiction. Some people decide to divorce and some decide to live with the problem. Generally, the threat of divorce is not a strong enough impetus to force an addict to get treatment. However, that also depends on the level that the addictive illness has reached. For some addicts, the threat of divorce is rock bottom and is enough for them to seek treatment.