In sickness and in health together: Addiction rehabs for couples

Returning to a sober way of life can seem impossible for people who are stuck in the depths of addiction. It’s even a tougher problem to solve when both members of a romantic couple are tortured by alcohol or drugs. Addicted couples have many conflicts and the emotional distance between them is constantly increasing.

Such a scenario can lead to a vicious cycle where one or two partners keep using a substance as a means of escape from stress and troubles. Fortunately, couples rehab centers offer meaningful help for people engaged in the relationship and struggling with alcohol or drug abuse.

How to Know That You Need a Couples Therapy?

It’s high time to use the services of a couples drug rehab when you notice at least one of the following common signs of an unhealthy relationship:

  • Substance use is the only thing you and your other half enjoy doing together.
  • You need to get drunk or high to talk about your feelings, demonstrate affection or achieve intimacy.
  • You neglect your direct responsibilities, such as childcare or housework.
  • Substance use leads to domestic violence.

Not getting help may have serious consequences for the relationships, including physical and mental damage.

Why Do You Need Therapy for Couples?

The non-addicted partner may unintentionally enable the addiction. The enabling behaviors involve actions that allow the addiction to continue, usually without meaning to. A sober partner can cover up, clean up messes and lend money. In this case, a couples rehab is also focused on eliminating co-dependency.

If both people in a couple are dependent, it’s best for them to undergo a therapy together. If one partner goes to rehab, and the other one maintains the habit, the first person has a much harder time resisting the temptation after the end of treatment.

So, if both partners want to be cured together, it enhances their chances of success. Special drug rehab for married couples is about learning and growing together and as individuals. Partners understand each other’s individual triggers and learn how to avoid relapse. They also receive counseling on improving their romantic relationship and managing interpersonal issues.

The Benefits of the Couples Therapy

A rehab for couples on drugs or alcohol can be truly effective if the efforts are bilateral. Rehab specialists provide professional help in overcoming dependence or codependence (enabling) and creating new relationship rules which will stimulate married or cohabitating individuals to sustain recovery.

A lot of researches prove the advantages of working with both members of a couple together during rehab. A study on “Behavioral Couples Therapy for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse” shows that BCT leads to longer abstinence and more productive relationship functioning than classic individual-based treatment. The study lists several benefits of BCT:

  • It reduces social costs;
  • It solves the problem of domestic violence;
  • It reduces the negative emotional effect on the couple’s children.

To cope with their addiction, each partner should be ready to talk candidly with rehab specialists about emotionally difficult issues. Usually, struggling couples address the following problems:

  • Verbal conflicts driven by substance use. Dependent couples have frequent quarrels over money, not taking care of responsibilities at home, one of the partners staying out late, etc.
  • Cases of domestic violence. Alcohol or drug addiction destroys the ability to pick up rational arguments and erases the sense of boundaries. A person may push or hit their partner out of anger and soon regret it. Sometimes, this cycle escalates into severe episodes of domestic abuse.
  • Covering up. It’s about making up excuses for a partner that didn’t show up at work or can’t go at a family event because of the substance abuse.
  • Isolation from friends and relatives. People who are often drunk or high tend to avoid people with whom they used to communicate in order to hide the addiction.
  • Showing affection only when using. A person can’t feel close to a partner or show emotional or physical signs of intimacy in a sober state.

So, you can expect for the best result from a couples rehab if you’re willing to work together on your problem. Mutual understanding and support are vital for addiction recovery. Having someone by your side who understands you and your treatment journey makes it easier to change your life for the better.

So, the benefits of a couples therapy are:

  • changing the issues that led to the addiction;
  • learning to cope with specific triggers and help each other/the other one stay clean;
  • healing the damage your or loved ones’ addiction has caused in your lives;
  • getting sex education;
  • learning to perform your usual responsibilities properly (parenting, handling finances, etc).

What to Expect from Couples Therapy?

The potential result of rehabilitation is a long-lasting recovery, and a happier, stronger and substance use-free relationship. It’s easy to find really good couples rehab centers that offer different types of therapies for dependent people.

Couples rehab can be inpatient, outpatient or a combination of both. Inpatient rehab requires the person suffering from addiction to live at a residential. In the course of outpatient treatment, the patient lives at home while undergoing therapy at the facility. Mixed rehab provides inpatient treatment for an addicted partner and the other partner who is co-addicted get treatment as an outpatient. The type you need depends on your unique situation.

There’re various treatment methods used for different types of substance addiction in a couples rehab:

  • Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT) that helps couples to overcome drug and substance abuse using behavioral modification techniques.
  • Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy (ABCT).
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) that addresses the medications abuse.
  • Recovering Couples Anonymous (RCA) for couples that have completed treatment but want to keep visiting the meetings.

Once the couple is out of rehab, the partners keep working on recovery together. They act like coaches and help each other to cope with challenging situations, reminding about the techniques and tools they learned.

About the Author

Thanush Poulsen is a Danish blogger who stands for a healthy lifestyle. Having obtained a Bachelor Degree at Danish School of Media and Journalism and a Master Degree at Aarhus Universitet, he is focused on promotion and popularization of a healthy lifestyle and its positive effects on various fields of a person’s life. Currently, Thanush investigates teen addictions and the most effective ways to their treatment.

Photo by Sebastian Anthony