On Saturday, October 20, 2012, Wheaton Collaborative Divorce Attorney and Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor, Erin Birt, presented at the 12th Annual Forum for the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals in Chicago, IL. Her educational seminar was entitled, “Alcohol/Addiction and the Family in Collaborative Divorce.”

During the past 10 years, Ms. Birt noticed that many families seeking a divorce were also, either knowingly or not, dealing with substance abuse issues within the family. Unfortunately, very few divorce professionals are familiar with substance abuse, dependency, and the effects on the family

In 2008, to learn more substance abuse, Ms. Birt began attending courses and working in the field of alcohol and drug counseling.  She gained valuable experience as an instructor for a DUI risk education program and working with individuals admitted to GlenOaks Hospital’s inpatient behavioral health program.

Today, clients of Ms. Birt greatly benefit from her knowledge of substance abuse.  She often works with individuals that are struggling to cope with certain life events such as adjusting to marriage, divorce, separation, or other legal consequences such as a DUI.

Learning how to cope with such life transitions without alcohol or drugs can be difficult.  Families benefit when they work with professionals that are knowledgeable and able to help motivate positive change.

Substance abuse or dependency issues typically emerge in early adulthood, around the same time young adults contemplate marriage. First marriages often suffer due to substance abuse.  Using substances to intoxication causes an interruption in the development of the marital relationship and interferes with marital responsibilities.

Responding to the correlation between substance abuse and divorce, Ms. Birt is spreading the word that divorce professionals should receive training on screening for substance abuse, the symptoms of substance abuse and dependency, substance abuse and the effects on the family, and divorce options that minimize conflict and costs.

One option to minimize conflict and cost is a Collaborative Divorce.  It is a proactive alternative dispute resolution strategy that is also child friendly. The couple retains collaborative divorce attorneys and has the option to work with neutral team members, such as Divorce Coaches & Financial Professionals, that are trained to reduce time, costs, and the emotional scars of a divorce.

To learn more about how a  substance abuse counselor can be integrated into the neutral divorce team and the Collaborative Divorce services offered by Erin Birt, please visit www.birtlaw.com or contact our office directly at (630) 891-2478.