Substance addiction in the United States is widespread, and, in recent years, has become a much discussed public health concern. Substance abuse costs the U.S. an estimated $740 billion each year, and it wreaks havoc on millions of lives. But the devastating effects of drug and alcohol misuse aren’t limited to those who ingest substances. Abuse can profoundly impact family and romantic relationships. How does substance abuse impact couples? A study conducted by Detox.net indicated that nearly 60% of those polled have dated someone battling with an addiction. Of people currently dating someone with an addiction, 14% considered themselves addicts as well. Addressing treatment in these circumstances raises many questions. Can couples successfully recover from addiction together? Is couples rehab safe?
What is Couples Therapy?
Behavioral couples therapy (BCT) is a form of behavior therapy that incorporates both the partners and the individual seeking help for alcohol or other drugs. The primary function or goal of BCT is to improve the couple’s relationships while simultaneously building support to help steer partners to a sober lifestyle. To increase positive outcomes, commitment to the relationship, and improved communication, licensed therapists will give instruction and model behaviors such as listening, expressing emotions, navigating triggers, and much more. However, given that the foundation of BCT begins with sobriety and couples support, this form of therapy is meant for couples where one is not currently facing addiction. Behavioral Couples Therapy is ideal after individual therapy and addiction rehab programs.
Is Couples Rehab Safe?
Rehabilitation and maintaining sobriety is a challenging course of treatment. Rehab may cause increased stress, physical changes, emotional changes, as well as relationship differences. Combining rehabilitation and couples therapy may cause stress levels to rise. Relationship dysfunction is associated with increased problematic substance use and increased rates of relapse. When each member of a couple is facing addiction, these rates increase ten-fold.
Having a codependent relationship built on similar drug abuse habits can be detrimental, especially if one or both individuals are ready to seek treatment. Couples with substance addictions may encourage their partner to continue using or exacerbate the underlying issues that further amplify the damages of drug abuse. While couples therapy, or BCT, is often effective for long-term success for relationships, it’s often unsafe for couples that are still faced with the challenge of getting clean. Relationship patterns and barriers are essential to consider when deciding if couples rehabilitation is a safe option of treatment.
Instead, couples should seek individual, evidence-based addiction programs, and individualized therapy geared to address co-occurring disorders. Reach out to our help team at 855-281-5588 for specific questions on our proven Colorado substance addiction treatment.
What is Couples Rehabilitation?
According to the American Addiction Centers, couples rehab is “when both members of a relationship are dealing with substance abuse or drug addiction,” and decide to engage in recovery treatment together. Engaging in couples rehabilitation has the potential to complicate recovery. For example, if one member of the couple chooses to participate in rehabilitation services, while the other continues drug and alcohol use, it can make it more difficult for the partner seeking support to avoid relapse. This is a significant barrier for couples seeking addiction treatment and often causes the drug use to go untreated with the fear that seeking support may cause more relationship problems, financial struggles, and emotional and physical problems for each member of the relationship.
Many couples battling addiction often use substances together, and it is vital to address underlying causes or issues that may prolong individual suffering through addiction. The best care level continues to be individual therapy, substance-specific support groups, and treatment of any underlying disorders. Once programs have been successfully completed for both individuals, behavioral couples therapy is extremely beneficial for continued sobriety. If couples wish to coexist after recovery, couples therapy is highly encouraged.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Couples Rehab?
Engaging in couple’s rehabilitation has both pros and cons or positives and negatives. Many positive factors include the chance to address relationship concerns that may cause further substance use or abuse, a sense of community and bonding through healthy coping strategies with the other member of the relationship, accountability, and increased social support through family members and friends. These are all factors that can lead to successful outcomes and are recognized by the American Counselors Associations as critical components to therapy and recovery. Some significant challenges may occur due to couples rehabilitation as well. As stated by the American Addiction Centers, these challenges may include the following:
- One member of the relationship may need elevated treatment than the other partner.
- When a formal diagnosis of a personality disorder is determined (e.g., Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc.).
- Ongoing domestic abuse or violence.
- When only one member of the relationship is ready for recovery.
- Lack of commitment to maintain the relationship after rehabilitation.
Knowing when to engage in rehab if a partner is not ready to commit can be difficult. Participating in individual rehabilitation continues to be vital despite both partner’s differences. Not engaging in individual rehabilitation when needed may cause further relationship problems and safety concerns. Engaging in individual counseling is often seen as a way to engage the other partner in recovery indirectly, as the other partner may see the progress and positive changes being made. It is important to have a partner who is supportive and safe as the risks for relapse are significantly elevated for couples who use substances together.
What are Couples Rehab Treatment Methods?
Behavioral Couples Therapy or BCT is a commonly used therapy technique that incorporates both partners and is often used for couples rehabilitation. As mentioned, BCT has proven to decrease partner separation, lower risk of divorce, lower domestic disputes, less alcohol, and drug use problems, and overall happiness within a romantic relationship setting. In fact, BCT rehabilitation may be a more affordable option as couples would be able to attend rehabilitation.
It is, however, important to maintain individuality in couples counseling. This is why it is highly encouraged for couples also to seek individual rehab counseling coinciding with couples rehab. Other couples treatment methods may include parenting therapy, Medication-Assisted Treatment, and family therapy. Developing and maintaining individual treatment plans, along with relationship treatment plans and goals, is also highly recommended. Couples rehabilitation can be utilized healthily if the right parameters and boundaries are met. Discussing the needs for couples rehabilitation is important and allows an understanding of the benefits and challenges of couples rehab. The decision to engage in rehabilitation is a hard decision to make. It can take years to feel ready to make changes, and it is paramount to have a supportive partner to aid in the recovery process. This may not always be an option and AspenRidge is happy to explore all options of treatment.
Prospective clients may contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers at 855-281-5588 to schedule an assessment, speak to staff about various programs, or possible treatment barriers.AspenRidge keeps all information confidential and will not share with spouses or partners for client safety. Gaining knowledge prior to taking the steps towards recovery is important, and AspenRidge is determined to provide clear information. Please contact AspenRidge to discuss appropriate steps in your move towards recovery.