Climbing out of addiction to drugs or alcohol is an incredibly difficult and painful experience. Though on the other side of the battle comes a clean life, worth overcoming every hurdle, this lifelong journey toward sober living is one of the hardest things you will ever do.
This is an especially difficult journey with family involved, particularly a spouse or partner. It may be that your significant other is the very reason you want to get clean, but moving toward that will involve him or her in a huge way. This journey is for both of you.
According to the Couples Counseling Center in Chicago, substance abuse and addiction are one of the top 10 reasons marriage ends in divorce. “In one study, it was reported that as many as 45% of couples decide to split because of substance dependence issues.”
How do couples pursue therapy together, not just to address addiction, but to repair the damage done to their relationship?
Is Couples Rehab Right For You?
There are certain situations where couples rehab isn’t an option, namely if one partner is unwilling or if one or both of you don’t intend to continue the relationship after rehab.
However, for many couples, it may be the choice that offers the most hope for your relationship moving forward. For co-addicts (relationships in which both partners battle addiction), rehab offers the help you need to overcome codependency and enabling.
For partners who want to help their spouse get clean, couples rehab is one way to enter into recovery with them, as well as learn how to best support them as they learn to live with addiction and remain clean in the future.
If you are someone who is unsure how to convince your partner to pursue rehab together, meet with a professional first to go into the process with a plan. You want to educate yourself, intervene in a loving way, and not make idle threats that don’t affect change.
Whether you are part of a co-addicted couple or a person who wants to see a change in his or her significant other, here are 7 reasons couples rehab could be the answer you are looking for.
1. Freedom to Recognize the Problem
One of the most common reasons people avoid seeking treatment is they are afraid to walk the long road of recovery alone. The option of couples rehab makes it possible to move forward together and work on not just the addiction but their relationship as well.
If both parties are dealing with addiction, it might inhibit them from seeking treatment since they are used to enabling each other. In fact, according to this study, “Couples in which both spouses use alcohol heavily report higher marital satisfaction than couples in which one spouse uses alcohol heavily and the other does not.”
If one partner is abusing a substance and the other is not, the one who is watching the addiction develop can often feel helpless and unsure of whether or not to intervene. This is especially true if abusive tendencies develop as a result of the addiction.
In either case, it’s important for people to recognize the signs of addiction and pursue help. The following symptoms are a sign that you and your spouse need treatment:
- Frequent driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Promises to stop, followed by the inability to follow through.
- Increased time away from home, either without explanation or to be with “friends.”
- Hiding drugs and alcohol around the house.
- Missing work, difficulty maintaining a job.
- Money disappearing.
- Chronic health issues (ie cough, stomach pain, sores).
- Putting others at risk for the sake of the addiction (i.e. leaving children alone or driving them while under the influence).
As you can see, addiction impacts partners more than anyone, and so recovery will necessarily include the partner. Recognizing the problem is the first step in pursuing recovery together, even if both parties aren’t battling addiction.
2. Knowing You’re Not Alone
Rehab and recovery can be a painful, lonely journey if an addict feels that his/her significant other is not willing to be a part of the recovery process. Couples rehab gives the couple a joint vision for the future that isn’t dependent upon one person going it alone.
Another reason couples therapy can encourage addicts is finding other families like yours that have been impacted by addiction. Knowing that other couples are seeking to heal their relationships from addiction can be a powerful thing for you and your partner or spouse.
3. Detoxing With Support
It may be that you have tried to help your partner get clean multiple times, but it’s failed because the detox process is so difficult. Drug and alcohol detox is mentally and physically gruelling, resulting in days, even weeks, of withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trouble concentrating
- Headaches and migraines
The safety and support of a rehab facility can ease this process and will be especially important for couples who are trying to get clean together.
4. Getting The Right Tools and Resources
One reason people avoid rehab is that they hope to simply overcome the addiction on their own. With enough willpower, they think they can just quit and move on with their lives. While it’s true that this may occasionally work, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.”
In an interview with Scientific American, Bankole Johnson, a Professor of Neuroscience, said of the idea that willpower can cure addiction, “It’s a complete myth. And it’s one of the myths that has to be dispelled.” Instead, he says, the focus needs to be on developing effective treatments that will be available to people who are ready to seek help.
One of these effective treatments is couples rehab, and that’s because couples can get the necessary tools and resources to move forward in their sobriety and in their relationship. These tools will include education about addiction, couples therapy, and a plan for moving forward after rehab.
5. Addiction Education
As familiar as people may be with how their addiction feels, most people don’t actually understand much about the way their addiction works. Addiction is a complex issue that involves biological, emotional, and mental pieces.
When a couple goes through rehab together, they begin to put those pieces together and understand how the addiction really works. If the both partners are battling addiction, they will learn about how their addictions feed off and enable one another. If one partner is not addicted, he or she can learn to understand the addiction, rather than be confused by it.
Knowing what you are facing as you move forward is an incredibly important part of your sobriety, and couples can gain this education together, which will only strengthen their relationship.
6. Couples Therapy
One of the biggest reasons to pursue couples rehab is the therapy that you’ll receive as you go through the process. Addiction is never merely about the drug. There are multiple factors that contribute to drug and alcohol addiction:
- Past experiences
- Stressful life situations
- Biological contributors (mental illness, poor health)
- Environment (work, school, home)
These are just to name a few. And if you are married or in a serious long-term relationship with someone, all of these factors intertwine with those of your partner. Therapy will help you begin to untangle how you got where you are and begin to open the door to a new way forward.
An important piece of your recovery journey will be learning how to communicate with one another in a healthy way, and couples therapy will help with that as well. Knowing how to express all of the emotions that come along with addiction recovery is an important piece of the puzzle as you look ahead to your new future of sober living.
7. A Plan For Moving Forward
A crucial part of battling drug addiction is having a plan in place for future sobriety once the rehab and counseling are over and you begin establishing normal patterns of living again.
When a couple attends a rehab facility together, they will learn how to manage their addictions independently and jointly. They’ll learn to recognize their own triggers and pitfalls as well as those of their partner. In this way, they can learn how to avoid relapse together and how to support one another when the other struggles.
While all of this is necessary in moving forward, there must also be a plan for ongoing support through local chapters of AA, NA, or some other means. You’ll both need a place to turn for encouragement, accountability, and intervention should relapse occur.
If you and your spouse are in the midst of a painful battle with addiction, the worst thing you can do is just wait it out and hope it gets better. The best chance you have at recovery is to seek recovery, and seeking it together gives your relationship the best chance at success.
If you want to pursue rehab for you and your partner, you can use Drug Treatment Center Finder to locate the perfect addiction rehab facility near you.