Substance Abuse: The Beginning of the End to Your Marriage?


It was a fairytale wedding. Everyone raved about the setting, the food, and the spectacular entertainment. Looking back, it was more than a little bit of a charade. When substance abuse becomes a part of a marriage, there’s a real possibility that it is the beginning of the end.

The signs were all there, but you chose to ignore them. In fact, you made excuses. It didn’t seem like such a big deal that your husband chugged down pain pills with a few beers. After all, the doctor prescribed the medication. It was not his fault that some idiot decided to run a red light and cause him such severe injuries.

On first glance, the story might sound a bit familiar. One day, you learn that your husband’s physician stopped the pain meds long ago. Your sweet and loving spouse didn’t bother to tell you. He was embarrassed that he was now turning to the streets for relief. The cost was so astronomical that it started to drain your bank account.

You don’t really remember when you decided to investigate further. However, your worst suspicions were confirmed. You tried confronting your husband – and became involved in an argument that almost became physical. Finally, he broke down in tears and admitted he was addicted.

Your first inclination was to stick by his side and help him detox – and undergo treatment. Unfortunately, he refused. As far as you’re concerned, your only alternative is to seek a divorce.

Substance Abuse and Divorce

Meanwhile, substance abuse does not just involve drugs. Alcohol abuse contributes to stress and divorce in a number of situations. In fact, a medical journal article from nearly twenty years ago concluded that “consumption increase of 1 liter of alcohol per capita brings about an increase in the divorce rate of about 20%.”

No doubt there are several factors that play into the likelihood that substance abuse hurts marriages. Drugs and alcohol can change the way people act – and release all inhibitions. In some cases, this may mean violent tendencies appear. In others, promiscuity may impact marital vows.

Of course, there’s also the issue that substance abuse can be financially draining. It often means encounters with the law. It can jeopardize the health and welfare of not only the abuser – but those around him or her. Sadly, it can impact children.

According to NJSA 2A:34-2, you may cite drug addiction as a reason for your divorce. The language of the statute specifically states that “voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug as defined in the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, P.L.1970, c.226 or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage” can be included in the divorce complaint. Meanwhile, there is little to gain from this reference as New Jersey does not increase equitable distribution or support payments based on fault.

Contact Us

Are you considering divorcing your husband or wife because of substance abuse? At the Law Offices of Sam Stoia, we can provide you with legal advice concerning your situation. Give us a call to see how we can help you.