Those who start using drugs with their partners can never imagine that it’ll become a dominating factor in their finances, habits, and how it affects their relationship. Separating your relationship from drug or alcohol abuse is challenging, which is why you should consider seeking help together. However, it’s likely that you’ve never even heard of couple rehab, but that’s because this approach to treatment is still relatively new. Research has demonstrated its effectiveness, but it still isn’t widespread. However, it’s important to note that couples rehab is not the right option for all couples or all addictions. 

You might be wondering – should couples attend rehab together? Is it right in your case? Below, we’ll dig into the background and examine relationships in recovery and if this rehab arrangement can work for you.

Addiction Slowly Breaks Down Relationships 

Marriage is synonymous with better health, and it’s common for married couples to have healthier habits in their daily lives than their single counterparts. Research suggests that couples are far more likely to be more responsible when it comes to drinking than singles. However, in that same breath, couples also have the ability to reinforce each other’s addictions. 

Think of it like peer pressure – since couples spend most of their free time together and share a household, schedule, and budget, once addiction centers that realm, it’s easier for the spouse to join in. In some cases, sharing their addiction makes life easier while also making it more challenging.

When a spouse consumes alcohol or abuses drugs and the other doesn’t, the one who isn’t abusing substances will be upset, which can spiral into fighting and reinforce the addiction. One person uses, and the other boils with disdain. The user takes more substances to numb the pain from the fight, and this endless cycle continues. In some cases, the only way to break it is by giving in and using substances with their partner. 

Couples Therapy Breaks Down Habits

For the long-term success of the relationship, partners must eliminate shared habits that spark substance misuse or abuse. However, they must also create safe spaces for their improved, sober relationship. Fortunately, couples therapy can help them achieve both of these goals. 

The earliest days of recovery are incredibly challenging and even traumatic. There could be years of built-up resentment during the time they used substances. One person might feel they became addicted because of the other person or not trust their spouse because of things that happened while using drugs. Even worse, they might not have the skills to work through these conflicts healthily, which is where therapy can help. Without the help of a therapist, their time together will be fraught with challenges and can even lead to relapse. 

During couples therapy, the two individuals have a chance to work through their resentments and develop a new foundation built on their newly achieved sobriety. Therapists will use techniques like “Rituals of Connection” to create predictability during stressful periods like the holidays. Another example would be instead of celebrating an evening together with alcohol, they could read instead. 

Even during individual therapy, people can also develop habits and rituals, but they must come together as a couple and share notes. They must also determine which approach or idea is right to incorporate into their lives. This is considered highly inefficient and requires far too much negotiation and bargaining, which someone may not be open to early in recovery. Couples therapy is one way to bypass this. 

Couples therapy can also help people break down habits used to support each other’s addiction because, in one study, researchers found addicted couples can work as co-conspirators:

  • Couples will work together to include drugs or alcohol in their budget.
  • They’ll purchase and use drugs together for household use.
  • They’ll get drugs for their partner when they’re in withdrawal.
  • They cover up any of the consequences of drug use to keep the household running efficiently. 

Couples that use drugs or alcohol together need the love and security that comes with marriage, but they also consider drugs as a means of getting what they want. Fortunately, therapy will help these couples learn how to care for one another and reach a common goal – sobriety.

Couples Rehab: What Are the Steps?

You might share a life together, but addiction is causing profound challenges in your lives. However, at the end of the day, you’re still a family, and you must spend some time apart before you can come together and address these unique issues. 

Detox is the first part of the recovery process, and it’s the first step of teaching your body how to live without drugs. It’s a highly intensive and personal process, and it’s connected to your overall physical health. This process may need to be completed independently. Once your body rids itself of all traces of drugs and alcohol, you can be reunited with your partner. 

When you move into the next step in the continuum of care, you’ll be given the following choices by a clinician:

  • Residential treatment, where you’ll live on-site with your partner for an undetermined period.
  • Outpatient treatment, where you can manage your addiction at a treatment center but return home once the sessions conclude.
  • Intensive outpatient treatment, where you’ll spend most of your days addressing addiction at a treatment facility but still living at home. 

An addiction expert will determine which is the best course of action for you. However, no matter where you end up, couples therapy will continue to help. During these sessions, you’ll develop a recovery contract and reaffirm the decision to stay sober. You’ll begin working through your past and develop communication skills that will help you during challenges you will face in the future. What makes this path even better is you’ll be supported by your partner the entire time. 

You can use a calendar when completing the following:

  • Trust discussions: You’ll reiterate your desire to remain sober that day and promise to continue to support one another that day.
  • Recovery activities: These might include taking medications and attending support group meetings as a couple.

You can only do so much as a couple, but there might still be some independent work to do. If you’re dealing with underlying depression or anxiety that your partner doesn’t share, you’ll likely need medication and additional therapy to manage these issues. 

How Effective Is Couples Rehab?

Fortunately, professionals have examined this type of treatment extensively, and they share the sentiment that it’s incredibly successful. Couples that seek treatment together recover exceptionally well. Even though you’re both struggling with addiction, you’ll recover at the same rate. However, it’s vital to mention that relapse is a part of the recovery process. If one of you does succumb to your cravings, what matters is how you deal with it. 

For example, if one of you uses drugs or alcohol but immediately goes back to treatment, it demonstrates the amount of progress you‘ve made. Relapse doesn’t mean treatment hasn’t worked – it means you need to adjust your care and identify the issues that pushed you to this point. 

When you and your partner go through rehab, you’ll know each other’s relapse risks very well. Your partner will always be on your side, both emotionally and spiritually, which is an invaluable resource to have during these troubling times. You’ll always hold each other accountable and make a course correction before slipping back into regular use. The time spent in therapy can help you perform as recovery coaches.

How to Find a Couples Program

If you can’t bear the thought of getting help without your partner but can no longer lead a life abusing drugs and alcohol, you might be looking at your best recovery options. It’s important that you both do your homework and agree on a treatment facility where you can recover and become whole again. Please consider the following when choosing an addiction treatment program:

  • Your mental health: If you or your partner is battling depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or any other mental health challenges, it might complicate the recovery process. Look for a program that can treat your substance abuse issues as well as your mental health. 
  • Insurance: Treatment is expensive, but you can’t put a price on your life. Look for a treatment program that’s in-network and accepts your insurance.
  • Budget: Insurance will not cover the entirety of your addiction treatment. You will still have co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses. Find a program that’s affordable and appeals to your needs. 

Take your decision seriously, but don’t let it delay life-saving care.

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