Jan 24, 2020

Opioid Use & Addiction May Become Leading Cause of Divorce

Jan 24, 2020 - Family Law by |

The Rise of Opioid Addiction is an Increasingly Large Threat to Marriages & Family Life

We’ve often analyzed not only the outcomes and processes of divorce, but also the leading causes of divorce as well, among other related issues. One that must come to the forefront at this point in time is the looming threat of opioid addiction and abuse. As opioid overdoses and deaths have risen at alarming rates in recent years, it’s an area which is going to become more and more common in divorce.

Different studies illuminate this in different ways. A study from the National Center for Biotechnology, for instance, reports that 34.6% of individuals cited substance abuse as a factor in their divorce, and 12.1% of those cited it as the final straw.

Now, consider how much opioid abuse has risen. The National Center for Health Statistics shows a 500% increase in opioid deaths from 1999 to 2017, increasing from 8,048 to 47,600. Consider that in 1999, there were 16,849 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. including all types of drug use; that number is just a third of the deaths caused by opioids alone in 2017.

When drug abuse exists in a marriage, even without overdose or death, it’s likely to become a major strain on the wellbeing of the couple. Consider factors such as financial problems related to the use of drugs, and issues ranging from job loss to the cost of hospitals and recovery. There are bound to be emotional burdens, increased arguing, loss of trust, parenting issues, and more.

In other words, substance abuse increases nearly every friction point in a marriage. And it’s in a world where, according to a 2018 poll from the American Psychiatric Association, 31% of adults in 2018 report knowing someone who is or has been addicted to opioids or prescription painkillers, that a further 9% have taken them without a prescription and another 5% self-report having abused or been addicted to them, and you can see that the issue and impact of opioids on marriages across the U.S. is only going to increase.

It’s worth noting the impact of divorce as a potential risk factor leading towards worse drug abuse or addiction. While we welcome clients from all walks of life, we also serve as divorce lawyers for men, and it is men in particular who are at much higher risks of substance abuse and drug overdose.

Consider that single and divorced adults account for 71% of opioid deaths while representing only 32% of the population, and the statistics are skewed heavily towards men, who also have higher risks of everything from suicide to car accidents. Further, analysis of drug overdoses and deaths show that higher rates of divorce is one of the key indicators amongst other social and economic factors that correspond to increased rates of drug-related deaths in particular areas. It may be a matter of the chicken and the egg in terms of which of these is more likely to happen first, or whether the cycle simply continues to build momentum over time.

If opioid addiction or abuse is a factor leading towards your potential divorce or separation, feel free to contact our office for more information. Prospective clients in Maryland can call 240.395.1418 for a free consultation today.