Couples Drug Rehabs: Can You Recover Together?

While couples’ drug rehab presents unique challenges, it remains a viable option for some couples. Relationships are different for everyone, and the possibility of succeeding in couples drug rehab depends on the people in the relationship.

While there have been cases of couples succeeding in rehab together, this is the exception rather than the rule.

Life Partners and Drug Addiction

Intimate relationships are complicated. Add drug or alcohol addiction to the intricacies of a relationship, and it’s even more difficult to maintain trust, open communication, and mutual respect. Notably, in relationships involving addiction, domestic violence is more prevalent. According to this peer-reviewed study, alcohol use is involved in at least 40% of domestic abuse cases.[1]

When both partners in a relationship struggle with addiction, there is an increased risk of developing codependent behaviors. Each person views their significant other differently and may feel a sense of satisfaction from feeling “needed” by a struggling partner. When both partners are battling addiction, they may be preventing each other from getting help, enabling each other to continue the addictive behaviors.

Can Couples Go to Rehab Together?

Couples drug rehab programs offer several benefits to couples struggling with substance abuse. These programs are designed to help both partners simultaneously address their addiction problems while strengthening their relationship.

Couples rehabs may not be suitable for every couple, and the decision to enter such a program should be made carefully after consulting with healthcare professionals. Additionally, any rehab program’s effectiveness depends on both partners’ commitment and willingness to actively engage in the treatment process.

Benefits of Couples Drug Rehab

Improved Communication and Support

Addiction can strain a relationship and lead to poor communication. Couples rehab often includes counseling and therapy sessions that focus on improving communication skills, which can be beneficial during recovery and in the future.

Couples in rehab can serve as a built-in support system for each other. They can encourage and motivate one another during challenging moments in their recovery journey.

Learn How to Identify Enabling Behaviors

One partner’s addiction may sometimes be closely tied to the other’s enabling behavior or co-dependency issues. Couples rehab can help identify and address these dynamics, promoting healthier relationship patterns.

Challenges of Couples Drug Rehab

While couples drug rehab programs can be highly effective in some cases, they also come with potential challenges that individuals and couples should be aware of before choosing a program. These challenges can vary depending on the specific program and the couple’s circumstances.

Increased Distraction

Being in couples’ rehab may lead to a focus on the partner’s well-being, which can potentially detract from individual recovery and increase the risk of relapse for both. Additionally, it’s hard to take a real, raw look at yourself without filters when you’re focusing on your significant other. Being together can encourage codependency and codependent behaviors, which is detrimental to the treatment process.

Emotions like jealousy can keep you worried and focused on your partner instead of your personal growth and can limit your ability to speak freely and vulnerably about your feelings, experiences, and traumas. Some partners or spouses might be unprepared to handle new information during shared group therapy sessions.

Less Able to Focus on Yourself

Most people, years into recovery, will tell you that recovery is an inside job. Recovery is personal and separate in every case, every time.

Attending rehab with a partner may lead to a dependence on their progress for one’s own recovery, though this is not always the case. You’ll be depending on them for happiness and support.

It’s human nature to fail; when your partner fails you, you might equate your recovery success to your relationship. It’s better to give your relationship space and time to be separate to work on your own programs.

You Won’t Be the Same Person After Rehab

When you’re addicted to drugs, you become completely different. If you’ve spent significant time trapped in addiction, you don’t know who you are outside of drugs and alcohol. The problem is that you can’t expect a relationship built when you were on drugs to succeed once you’re in recovery.

When you’re abusing drugs with someone, they become part of the drug experience. In some ways, their love can also become like a drug to you. This means that part of the treatment process could be learning to get clean from them, too.

What Does Couples Drug Rehab Look Like?

Depending on the circumstances that have led you to seek addiction treatment, you might have a different level of need than someone else. Recovery Unplugged utilizes all types of treatment levels for individuals at various stages of recovery. Therapies include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

  • Medical detoxification (detox) allows individuals to safely heal from acute drug or alcohol withdrawal under the supervision of expert doctors and nurses.
  • Inpatient treatment allows for recovery and healing in an environment without distractions. Depending on your needs, a detox may be part of this level of care, as well as residential treatment ranging from days to weeks.
  • Intensive Outpatient (IOP) offers in-depth alcohol and drug rehab services, with greater independence and no overnight stays. Clients in IOP attend frequent treatment sessions longer than inpatient treatment.
  • Outpatient treatment is a less intensive program for individuals at later stages of addiction recovery. Outpatient care allows clients to continue their outside lives while benefiting from a partial hospital program (PHP) daily or weekly sessions as they continue their recovery journey.

Frequently Asked Questions About Couples Drug Rehabs

Can a relationship work if one person is sober?

While there’s no definitive answer, it is possible but challenging for a relationship when one partner is sober and the other is not. Focusing on communicating needs and boundaries is essential, as the partner in recovery may be struggling with triggers and need to be completely away from drugs or alcohol. Having a conversation to set ground rules will help support the person in recovery and keep communication open.

What percentage of marriages end in divorce because of alcoholism?

Alcoholism hurts marriages and other intimate partnerships. According to a 2014 study[2], divorce rates are significantly higher among those with alcohol use disorders (AUD) at 48.3%, compared to divorces without AUD at a rate of 30.1%.

How does sobriety change relationships?

Sobriety after addiction will change the dynamic of your relationship. As stated, rehab changes you, and you begin to think more clearly. If your partner is also sober, they have likely changed significantly. It’s reasonable to expect that your relationship will have changed.

Getting Help Outside of Couples Drug Rehab

Spending time away from the person you love can be hard. However, if the relationship is real and has a chance, it should be able to withstand a break and flourish afterward. You might also find that after treatment, you might need time alone, or the relationship doesn’t benefit your recovery.

If you’re looking for treatment programs and are afraid of taking that final step by yourself, we’re here to support you. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is focus on yourself and get the help you need. Call or contact us today to explore your options and see how we can help you.

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[1] Sontate, K. V., Rahim Kamaluddin, M., Naina Mohamed, I., Mohamed, R. M. P., Shaikh, M. F., Kamal, H., & Kumar, J. (2021, December 20). Alcohol, aggression, and violence: From public health to neuroscience. Frontiers in psychology.
[2] ‌Cranford, J. A. (2014). DSM-IV Alcohol Dependence and Marital Dissolution: Evidence From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 75(3), 520–529.