Drug Treatment Centers for Couples
Recovering from an addiction can be challenging, but when two people who are cohabitating, married, or are in a relationship are trying to recover together, it can be even more difficult. Luckily, there are drug treatment centers for couples who want to recover from addiction. These drug treatment centers have programs tailored to help drug-addicted couples achieve recovery.
Drug-addicted couples often find themselves in a state of codependency because of their addictions. Codependency is a common emotional and behavioral dysfunction in drug-addicted couples; it is often seen in people with low self-esteem and low self-worth.
Being codependent means that you sacrifice your needs for the needs of the other person, engage in compulsive care-taking behaviors, and make repeated attempts to rescue the other person. However, while you might think you’re being caring, it only allows your partner to continue their dysfunctional path and negatively affects your chances of having a healthy, satisfying relationship.
Codependency is sometimes referred to as relationship addiction because codependent people feel that they are unable to be alone. It was first studied in the context of addiction but quickly grew to be recognized as a standalone psychological problem.1
Signs of Addiction Related Codependency2
- Frequent arguments about drugs and alcohol or issues related to substance use, such as dealing with money problems or avoiding responsibilities.
- Covering for your partner, such as calling in sick for them when they have a hangover or after a night of using drugs.
- Using substances as a way of dealing with stress from the relationship.
- Feeling that you only enjoy time with your partner when you are both using.
- Experiencing physical altercations when using.
- Feeling that you or your partner only show affection when using.
- Isolating yourselves from family or friends because of substance use.
If you think you might be in a codependent relationship and you and your partner are addicted to drugs or alcohol, know that help is available to treat both the codependency and the addiction.
Drug Treatment For Married Couples
Drug treatment for married couples can be an empowering recovery option for both individuals. Whether the married couple is entering rehab together or separately, they may find themselves participating in individual, group, or couples counseling. Studies have shown that couples who engage in a combination approach generally have the best chances of success.3 In addition to these treatment modalities, many couples have benefited from attending 12-step meetings such as Recovering Couples Anonymous.4
Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)
One of the most studied and successful treatment approaches for addicted couples is called Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT). It is a behavioral approach, meaning it focuses on changing negative or dysfunctional behaviors that contribute to or cause addiction. The goal of BCT is to promote abstinence and improve relationship functioning in addicted couples who are married or cohabitating. BCT involves a variety of interventions, such as making a recovery contract with your partner, increasing positive activities in the relationship, and learning effective communication skills. In addition, there is a strong focus on maintenance and relapse prevention.6
The BCT approach has also been studied in gay and lesbian couples and is an effective drug treatment for married couples in this population as well.7 Surveys have found that members of the LGBTQ community often have a higher risk of substance abuse than heterosexual couples and often enter treatment with more severe addictions. Unfortunately, their needs are often insufficiently addressed by treatment facilities: one study showed only 7.4 percent of programs offered specialized services for LGBTQ patients. While there is limited data on these programs, available research shows that treatment needs to focus on “unique factors in these patients’ lives that may include homophobia/transphobia, family problems, violence, and social isolation.” 5
Benefits of Behavioral Couples Therapy6
- Improved relationship functioning, including happier relationships and fewer separations.
- Greater levels of abstinence when compared with traditional forms of treatment.
- Reduced domestic violence.
- Less emotional problems in the couples’ children.
- Improved compliance with recovery medications (if applicable).
Benefits of Rehab for Married Couples
The benefits of rehab for married couples can be seen in regards to the health of a relationship. Recovering together is better than if one partner enters recovery alone because you both need to be committed to sobriety for recovery to be a success. Some of the key benefits of rehab for married couples include:6
- A decreased chance of the marriage ending in divorce.
- The elimination of substance abuse and associated negative behaviors in the relationship.
- Changes in behavior patterns that support long-term abstinence.
- Learning improved communication skills, which can improve happiness and satisfaction in the relationship.
- Learning to engage in rewarding activities together that do not involve drugs or alcohol.
Couples Drug Rehab Risks
Going through addiction treatment together can pose some potential risks and drawbacks. In addition, attending rehab together may not always be an available option, depending on your specific circumstances or treatment center requirements. For example, if there is very severe domestic violence or if there is a restraining order against your partner, then it will not be possible for you to attend treatment together.6
Some couples drug rehab risks include:8
- Being denied admittance together, which is especially, but unfortunately, possible if you have already attended couples rehab in the past.
- The reality that your partner can play a negative role in the treatment process, such as if you are committed to treatment but your partner isn’t. For example, you may have talked them into attending treatment but they may not really be “all in” or may just be doing it to placate you, which significantly decreases the chances of success.
- Having difficulty completing treatment if you are impoverished or exposed to drugs in your social environment (which is true for anyone in treatment).
- Both needing to be in treatment for it to be successful. Treatment doesn’t work if just one partner enters couple rehab.
- A lack of commitment to the relationship. Treatment will be less likely to succeed if you’re not certain that you want to remain in the relationship.
- The unwillingness of some programs to recognize the patterns of interpersonal dynamics that contribute to substance abuse, especially if you both enter as individuals instead of jointly as a couple. In other words, you may not be “recognized” as being part of a couple and the dynamics that contributed to the addiction may not be sufficiently treated or acknowledged (if at all).
Evaluating Couples Rehab Centers
Some of the factors you may want to consider when seeking couples rehab centers include:
- Cost. Treatment can vary widely in price, depending on whether you want (and can afford) a luxury rehab or whether you need a state-funded or “bare bones” type of facility.
- Amenities. Different couples rehab centers offer different amenities—state-funded facilities will not have the amenities offered by more expensive luxury rehabs.
- Location. Some people prefer to stay close to home while others prefer the anonymity offered by a facility in a different location.
- Online reviews. Reviews from trusted websites that ensure all reviews are recent, objective, and written by verified participants who have attended the facility can be very helpful in your search for treatment. However, it’s important to be aware that many online reviews may not be accurate, up-to-date, or honest.
Couples Addiction Recovery
Couples addiction recovery begins once couples addiction treatment ends. For couples that struggle with substance abuse, recovery is a lifelong process that requires commitment, hard work, and dedication. A supportive, loving relationship can help maximize your chances of success, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. You should also have appropriate aftercare plans (provided by your addiction treatment center) in place to help support sobriety and abstinence. Couples addiction recovery may see partners participate in groups like Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Recovering Couples Anonymous.
Although there are inevitable challenges in the recovery process, you can take steps to minimize and limit cravings and triggers to relapse. In addition to support groups, you can enlist the encouragement of trusted friends and family who are committed to your sobriety, engage in meaningful, positive, and enjoyable activities, and manage stress to help ensure your success of staying on track with your recovery.
Are You Seeking Rehab for Someone You Love and Yourself?
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment in the U.S.; our facilities specialize in treating not just alcohol dependence, but in treating its underlying causes. Treatment is available at 8 locations across the U.S.
Not Sure About Addiction Treatment?
Seeking treatment can be scary if you are not fully aware of how to get help or what that completely entails. If you’re interested in learning more about how to get help, consider these two links below:
1. Mental Health America. Codependency.
2. Fals-Stewart, W. Substance abuse and intimate relationships.
3. Fals-Stewart, W., O’Farrell, T. J., & Birchler, G. R. (2004). Behavioral couples therapy for substance abuse: rationale, methods, and findings. Science & Practice Perspectives, 2(2), 30–41.
4. Recovering Couples Anonymous. What is RCA.
5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Substance use and SUDs in LGBTQ* populations.
6. O’Farrell, T. J., & Fals-Stewart, W. (2000). Behavioral couples therapy for alcoholism and drug abuse. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 18(1), 51–54.
7. Fals-Stewart, W., O’Farrell, T. J., & Lam, W. K. (2009). Behavioral couple therapy for gay and lesbian couples with alcohol use disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 37(4), 379–387.
8. Simmons J. (2006). The interplay between interpersonal dynamics, treatment barriers, and larger social forces: an exploratory study of drug-using couples in Hartford, CT. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, 1, 12.