David R. Usher

Missouri House Bill 402 takes the bull by the horns. Substance abuse in the family has never been addressed with policy empowering non-substance-abusing spouses the ability to leverage the troubled spouse into recovery. Spouses have to “live with it” or get a divorce. Most individuals do not like those options. They just want their partner to get into recovery.

Our legislation creates a “Family Intervention Order”. If your spouse is a substance abuser, a restraining order gives control of the family to you. The substance abuser has only two choices: seek recovery or “lose it all”. Nothing is more likely to reliably result in recovery than this. The Family Intervention Order is ideal because it is self-balancing within families and does not give the nanny-state power to interfere in families.

By taking substance abuse in the family seriously, and giving spouses a power tool to save marriages and build future marriages, everybody wins:

  • Future gun violence will be prevented.
  • Future divorces will be prevented and more cohabiting individuals will marry. Reducing divorce and improving marriage rates by only 10% in Missouri will save the state $180-million the first year alone – compounding annually.
  • With improving marriage rates, we will see corresponding decreases in family violence, violence against women, crime, child abuse, and child neglect.
  • Motor vehicle fatalities and accidents will decrease.
  • Insurance companies will have fewer claims for accidents.
  • Unmarried individuals have significantly higher rates of psychological and stress-related physical disorders. Insurance companies will see significant reductions in claims.
  • Health care actuarial metrics will change. We will see fewer low-income individuals requiring free health care.
  • Many individuals will be moved from welfare and poverty to happier and safer marriages.
  • Banks, mortgage companies, and credit card companies will benefit from fewer bankruptcies and non-collectables.
  • Businesses will see higher employee productivity. Individuals in troubled families do not perform as well at work and miss more work.
  • States will see demand spending needs shrink. Governors and legislatures will not have to settle for a “buckdancer’s choice” hiking taxes, cutting-off needy individuals, or cutting essential services.

We encourage other states to consider the wisdom of enacting proactive marriage-positive socioeconomic policy. An ounce of prevention will save trillions in downstream cures.


David R. Usher

David R. Usher is President of the Center for Marriage Policy