One of the biggest wake-up calls for many people recovering from addiction is realizing that addiction recovery does not earn them a pass from the bad things that happen in life. Payments may get lost in the mail. Cars get dinged in the parking lot. Bosses have bad days and take it out on everyone. Sometimes you or a partner realizes that divorce is a real possibility.
In general, people in addiction recovery are advised against making big life changes during the first year of sobriety. These changes include things like moving across the country, getting married, and getting divorced. When it comes to divorce, there are some obvious exceptions, such as in cases of abuse.
If you are in addiction recovery and are facing the possibility of divorce, your first step should be hiring an excellent divorce attorney – preferably one with experience in divorces where addiction and recovery are factors. Though it might be hard to imagine, you can come through the divorce process with your recovery and your dignity intact.
Assessment of Addiction During Divorce
Where one or both partners in a marriage are in addiction recovery, there is likely to be an addiction assessment
at some point during divorce proceedings. Complete honesty with your lawyers is absolutely essential because they cannot help you to the best of their ability if they do not know all the facts.
Ideally, your lawyers would be able to help you handle the divorce largely outside
the court system, through mediation if possible. In such a scenario, it is easier for addiction recovery to be treated as a health issue, whereas if the divorce is hashed out in a courtroom, defensiveness and anger can gain traction, making the process more difficult for everyone.
Addiction Recovery and Relapse: What to Do
In the event of an addiction relapse, you need to do what you can to re-establish trust as soon as possible. Contact your legal counsel and be upfront and candid about what has happened. As hard as it is, discussing relapse as soon as it occurs makes things easier in the long term than if you try to hide this information from your estranged partner and your lawyer.
A competent, experienced lawyer can work with your therapist and other addiction recovery specialists so that negotiations with the partner and their counsel can proceed with as much honesty and as little rancor as possible.
Keeping Your Life Together on Bad Days
Hopefully, you will not have to worry about dealing with relapse during the divorce process. However, there are likely to be difficult days, and it is important that you have a plan in place for dealing with them constructively. Go to meetings and stay in regular communication with your 12-step sponsor if you have one. Know what you do and do not have control over, because this can help you learn to “stay in your lane” and work on yourself rather than try to place blame and engage in other nonproductive actions.
The “one day at a time” principle from your 12-step program can be of immense value when you face the possibility of divorce. There may be times when “one day at a time” is more like “one moment at a time,” or “one breath at a time.” The fact is, you have come this far in your addiction recovery, and if you stick to the behaviors and practices that got you this far, you have every chance of coming through life changes like divorce stronger than ever.
If you have questions about addiction recovery, we invite you to contact us today
Whatever you are going through, you do not have to face it alone.