Should Couples Attend Drug Treatment Together?

Couples therapy can sometimes be a source of help when two people are both battling addiction.

This approach of seeking treatment in pairs involves married partners or couples obtaining help together rather than separately.

This approach has gotten more and more popular in the past decades.

But is it the best approach?

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Addiction Alone vs. Couple Addiction

Dealing with addiction alone differs greatly from facing addiction with a significant other. Many times, addiction stems from a dysfunctional situation around the person or when drug dependency begins to control the user’s life or the lives of both people. Every situation is different, but they all lead to craving very toxic substances, legal and illegal.

When couples begin to consume addictive substances in unison or share their addictive habits, things can turn very harmful.

Addiction is regularly supported and promoted by each other. Substance abuse can be a point of union or reconciliation. Drug abuse becomes an important factor in the relationship, and both parties begin to inhibit self-destructive behaviors. Drugs become a shared moment, sort of like a ritual that slowly causes them to anchor them not only physically but also emotionally to the drug or drugs.

In other cases, substance abuse can be a way to cope with issues in the relationship rather than a bonding moment between them. These situations usually stem from problematic marriages and toxic environments. Legal prescriptions for addictive drugs can overcome people’s lives.

How Effective Are Couple Treatments?

For couples to engage in couples therapy usually requires a series of downfall events that affect their overall lifestyle. Reaching this point is usually an alarming wake-up call to most couples. Some studies suggest that family-based treatments result in higher levels of abstinence. Other studies point to successful outcomes when alcohol addiction is treated in marital and family therapy.

It’s important to understand that many issues revolving around substance abuse by both parties, usually stems from a lack of communication and emotional affection. Trying to cope with this in the short term can initiate a long line of addiction. Couples treatments approach these issues by discussing and bringing the problems to light. The goal after that is to eliminate the drug abuse, help each partner engage and change their habits, and finally restructure the family interactions for a long-term healthy life.

From these studies, it’s safe to say that a couple of treatments are effective when there are factors that motivate each member to want to seek help. Couple treatments can attack the recurring cause of habit-forming addiction. In many cases, people can’t seem to pinpoint the issues until they are in treatment.

However, there are issues with considering drug addiction in a couple of environments when life influences trigger drug usage. Seeking help is not always as simple as many may make it seem.

Codependency and Enabling

This territory is very important to keep in mind. Codependency as a result of one member in the relationship manipulating or influencing the other. As a result, the dominant one encourages the addictive member to consume. In certain cases, this is directly or indirectly. Emotional instability is the result of people not knowing where to place their anguish and how to deal with it; therefore, they consume drugs.

Sometimes psychological abuse, verbal abuse, and even physical abuse can lead one person to experiment with substances to deal with these issues. One member can often encourage the addicted member to continue taking substances as they feel this is the right decision. They often cover for them to help their addicted spouse or couple to face any real consequences.

In these scenarios, it can be quite difficult for someone to find formal medical treatment. Being persuaded by their partner, either by being encouraged to keep taking drugs (whether they also consume or not) or being pushed into that lifestyle due to an addictive and toxic environment, can feel like there’s no way out. In these situations, seeking couples therapy is not always the best solution.

This brings about a concerning reality that a person with an addiction has to face. If there is a point where proper detox can be implemented and other forms of therapy have proceeded thereafter, one issue remains — their partner.

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If their significant other is not totally on board, things can lead to a problematic future. When the person recovering from addiction faces personal problems in their future life, the codependent person can prompt them to return to their addictive habits. This is something to consider.

Where It Could Fail

When both people are consuming drugs or alcohol, it may be problematic to face their problems alone rather than separately. Sometimes the mere bond of the relationship is the substance abuse itself. The nature of drug abuse is always triggered by some factor in a person’s life. When there is an environment where both are consuming substances, there is usually a bigger issue.

Should Couples Attend Together?

Every situation is different. As we’ve touched upon previously, methods of couples treatment are proven to work. However, not every case of addiction is similar to the next. The best way to consider treating these problems is by getting in touch with an addiction facility in your area. Realizing there’s a problem is the first step to finding a cure. A marriage or partnership never moves in a one-sided direction. There are various moving parts, and each person has to first acknowledge the issue and then have the determination to tackle the problem, no matter how challenging it can be.

Seek Help Today

If you and/or spouse are struggling with substance addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as you can. Reaching out to California Highlands Addiction Treatment in Southern California is the first step toward recovery.

We have representatives 24/7 waiting to take your calls at 855-935-0303, or you can reach them online. Talk to us and let us know what your situation is, and we’ll guide you in the right direction. The first step may seem scary, but it’s the first important step to a balanced, safe, and happy, substance-free life.

  • O'Farrell, T J, and W Fals-Stewart. “Alcohol Abuse.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2003, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12616803/.

    Stanton, M D, and W R Shadish. “Outcome, Attrition, and Family-Couples Treatment for Drug Abuse: a Meta-Analysis and Review of the Controlled, Comparative Studies.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 1997, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9283299.