Can You and Your Spouse Achieve Recovery Together?

Have you ever wondered if you and your spouse can achieve recovery together? Substance use can become an issue in relationships, especially when both partners struggle with addiction.

Many couples succeed through marriage counseling or couples therapy for several reasons. Substance use disorder (SUD) may come with a lack of communication, constant fighting, or a general loss of connection. Relationships are hard, even before SUD begins adding strain. When addiction is involved, professional help is usually beneficial. In some cases, one partner may struggle with SUD, but there are many cases where both individuals experience addiction.

Whether or not you and your spouse can achieve recovery together is a question you must answer for yourself. However, attending counseling together will help you and your partner improve communication, restore emotional support, and support each other in your recovery processes. It is, however, imperative that you both desire a life of recovery.

Can Partners Seek Recovery Together Through Couples Treatment?

As mentioned, whether or not you and your spouse can achieve successful recovery together is up to you. Unfortunately, there is no one correct answer to this question. Couples can recover together. Whether or not you specifically will achieve recovery together will depend on your relationship, how big a role substance use played in your relationship, and who in the partnership wants to change.

Addiction is typically a solo journey. However, peer pressure frequently plays a part. For example, surrounding yourself with friends who constantly drink or partake in dangerous or illicit drug use increases your chances of using and developing SUD. Similarly, romantic involvement with someone who drinks or uses drugs excessively may lead you to addiction. Perhaps substance use is the common factor between you two and is central to your relationship.

According to the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, behavioral couples therapy (BCT) is "designed for married or cohabiting individuals seeking help for alcoholism or drug abuse" and aims "to build support for abstinence and to improve relationship functioning." BCT is implemented through many recovery practices, such as:

  • 12-Step programs
  • Support group meetings
  • Individual addiction treatment or counseling  

Combined with other recovery modalities, BCT can effectively treat couples seeking recovery together. However, seeking recovery together does not negate the importance of individual treatment. 

Why Individual Therapy Is Still Critical 

Addiction treatment is most effective when individualized. That means you may need a specific combination of treatments, techniques, or therapies. You and your partner may find that you need different combinations of interventions to be successful. The desire to seek recovery together is beautiful, but you might not take every step together. 

Additionally, it could be detrimental to let your desire to seek recovery together prevent you from choosing the right treatment program for each of you. Deciding between a partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient program (IOP), or outpatient program should be a decision you make for yourself based on the program you think is the right fit. This might mean you each need to take different paths. There are, however, benefits to entering recovery together.

How Entering Recovery Together Improves Your Relationship

The first benefit of entering recovery together is the way it can improve your relationship. Treatment is a time of self-discovery. In addition to learning coping skills to avoid substance use, you can work to improve communication and set goals for yourself. Then, you can apply what you learn during treatment to your relationship. 

Next, BCT can improve your relationship. The first step in BCT is maintaining abstinence from substances and attending therapy regularly. Once you do this, BCT can improve the dynamics between you and your partner. BCT focuses on positive feelings and tackling conflicts due to substance use. Additionally, it teaches healthy communication skills so you can heal rifts between you two and encourage each other's recovery process. Couples counseling may be a good idea even after you and your partner have completed treatment. 

Maintaining Long-Term Recovery Together 

Another benefit to you and your partner being in recovery together is that you can help each other. Individuals should want their partner to thrive and prosper in any healthy relationship. You two can do this in recovery by: 

  • Learning your partner's triggers and coming up with creative ways to cope with them together
  • Planning fun sober activities you can do together
  • Practicing self-care and carving out time to spend by yourselves
  • Having patience with each other during bad days—together or alone
  • Maintaining an individual relapse prevention plan because, though achieving recovery together is incredible, you must be able to maintain recovery on your own

You can become allies when you and your partner want to maintain sobriety.

Harsh Realities When Only One Person Seeks Recovery 

The harsh reality of life is that couples who use together do not always want the same things. If your partner does not want to stop using, seek treatment, or recognize they have a problem, the relationship is not healthy for you. The harsh reality is that you may need to end the relationship to pursue sobriety on your own. It is okay to hope you can seek recovery together, but do not let your partner be the reason you stay stuck in SUD. To seek treatment, start by calling NorthStar today. 

Substance use can become an issue for many couples, especially when each partner is struggling with addiction. You and your partner can seek and achieve recovery together if you're equally invested. Individual therapy is vital, but behavioral couples therapy can help you and your partner in your battles with addiction. NorthStar Transitions can help you and your partner achieve sobriety together. We offer a variety of different interventions and levels of care to cater to each individual who comes to us. You and your partner may have different needs, and we can meet them all. To learn more about addiction, or if you and your partner are seeking treatment, call NorthStar Transitions at (303) 558-6400.

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