For anybody suffering from drug abuse, achieving sobriety may be challenging. However, when individuals in a romantic relationship have a substance use disorder (SUD), establishing and maintaining sobriety can be significantly more difficult.

Couples or married partners who abuse alcohol or drugs frequently argue and suffer from an increased emotional distance. As one or both members of the marriage continue to use alcohol or drugs for stress relief or as a method of escaping their troubles, this can lead to a cycle of escalating substance use. Fortunately, treatment institutions specialize in treating couples, whether they are cohabiting or married.

Couples counseling can benefit people who are in a relationship where one or both partners have a drug use problem. Rebuilding trust and improving communication skills are frequently key goals of treatment with a certified marital and family therapist.

How Does it Work?

Navigating a relationship in which addiction is prevalent may put even the strongest of partners to the test. Couples therapy, fortunately, has been found to produce excellent outcomes for those dealing with a drug or alcohol use disorder.

Working with a qualified therapist can help create a secure and nonjudgmental environment in which to communicate your emotions and frustrations with your relationship. If talks often devolve into loud fights, the therapist can de-escalate the situation so that both participants’ views and feelings are heard. Couples therapy may provide homework, such as communication exercises and tools to help a couple build good communication skills, which can have long-term advantages. It is critical to remember that in order for a relationship to function, both partners must be honest, open, and ready to put in the effort. Couples counseling may help two individuals recognize that terminating the relationship is the best decision in some circumstances, and they may work together in treatment to figure out the best method to split, especially if finances are involved, and children are involved.

Couples therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and resolving issues in intimate relationships. It is sometimes known as marital counseling; however, the partners do not have to be married to benefit from this therapy. Licensed marriage and family therapists assist the couple in better understanding each other, improving open communication, and resolving marital issues. Some couples seek counseling only for a short period of time. For example, pre-marital counseling or simply resolving minor difficulties. It may take longer for more significant difficulties in the relationship, like substance addiction or adultery, depending on the couple, the treatment method, and the therapist. One partner may opt to pursue extra individual counseling before, during, or after the relationship.

What to Expect?

No two treatment-seeking couples are comparable, and each pair will require a unique therapy strategy. A couple’s rehab program, like any other treatment program, will generally follow a four-step process:

An admissions navigator will conduct a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation on all incoming couples. This will aid in determining the appropriate degree of care and treatment course.

Detox: Some patients will require detox as part of their continuum of care, although this is not always essential.

Addiction treatment: Couples will often get a combination of behavioral, group, and individual counseling, as well as couples-based therapy, as part of their treatment plan. This might happen in either an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Aftercare: Once couples have completed the preceding phases, they will collaborate with a therapist to build an aftercare plan. Aftercare aims to sustain recovery, develop methods to avoid relapse, and live a life with purpose and meaningful relationships.

Effect of Addiction on Relationships

When one or both partners in a relationship abuse drugs or alcohol, it may lead to a number of significant problems and negative repercussions. Couples may face financial difficulties, housing troubles, job loss, health-related issues, poor communication, a lack of trust, and codependency tendencies. There is also a higher chance of verbal and mental abuse, as well as physical assault. A parent who uses drugs or alcohol is three times more likely to mistreat their child. Addiction can also have an effect on sexual functioning, making one or both partners feel rejected, unhappy, or unloved.

Intimacy and Substance Abuse

Substance misuse affects not just sexual functionality but also the emotional link between partners, which leads to emotions of intimacy and desire. Resentment may interfere with the attraction that one partner formerly had for the other. Couples counseling may assist in resolving these negative sentiments and regaining the closeness that their partnership previously possessed.

Drug and alcohol misuse have a detrimental impact on physical and mental health, as well as sexual performance, functioning, and intimacy. Men who are alcoholics have a higher risk of experiencing sexual issues such as lack of sexual desire, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation. Even short-term excessive alcohol consumption might result in transient erectile dysfunction. Researchers discovered that severe alcohol consumption could have long-term consequences on a man’s sexual health, even after extended periods of abstinence. While some cocaine users experience enhanced sexual desire while using the substance, cocaine usage has been shown to impair sexual satisfaction in the long run. As per the research conducted by the University of Granada in Spain, all substances affect the sexual functioning of males who misuse cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and marijuana. Pleasure and orgasm were the two areas that suffered the most.

Importance of Couples Therapy

Addiction impacts more than just the person; it affects their family, friends, coworkers, and, perhaps most importantly, their marriages. Whether a couple is married, cohabiting, or merely in a relationship, having a drug use problem in one or both members of the relationship may be harmful to both parties and make it difficult to maintain a healthy and supportive connection. Even if the spouse with the drug use disorder seeks treatment and maintains their sobriety, it does not remove the relationship’s dysfunctional communication patterns, broken trust, and emotional anguish. Trust must be re-established, and both partners in the relationship must recognize their flaws and work together to overcome them. Without expert assistance, this can be challenging. Attending couples counseling may provide a safe space for both partners to communicate their experiences with each other and their thoughts about those experiences in order to work toward restoring a loving and healthy relationship.

It might be difficult to draw the line between being supportive of your spouse when they are addicted to drugs or alcohol and being an enabler. Even if your intentions are good, sheltering someone from the repercussions of their substance misuse, such as taking over their tasks, making excuses for them, and shielding them from legal penalties, is termed enabling. Setting boundaries and limitations may be challenging. Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Recovering Couples Anonymous are nonjudgmental self-help organizations for the spouse who is not using substances but is frequently hooked to their loved one’s actions, to receive support and advice from others who have dealt with similar difficulties. Couples counseling may help individuals get back to a healthy position of understanding, love, support, and trust both during and after treatment.

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