Your intimate relationship is supposed to be a safe haven. Your home should be somewhere that provides shelter from potentially dangerous situations. However, if you are in a relationship with a partner who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it can lead to emotional stress, unhealthy relationships, and even abuse.
There are options, including treatment centers and Couples Rehabs “Branded” programs that can help with these situations, but learning more about them first is imperative.
The Impact of Having a Relationship With an Addict
For many people in the U.S., having an intimate or close relationship with an addict can quickly become a source of emotional upheaval, negativity, chaos, and in many cases, violence. Instances of substance abuse can destroy a couple over time as these episodes weaken their bonds and undermine trust. Suppose there are children involved in the situation. In that case, there could be conflicts related to parental responsibilities, or cases of neglect and even abuse because of the drug or alcohol abuse that is going on.
It is important to note that helping your spouse or partner face their addiction is not a one-person job. Seeking professional help is typically required to ensure they are put on the right path and to ensure they can build a foundation to remain sober for life.
Data on Alcohol and Drug Use
Millions of adults aged 18 years and older are affected by alcohol and drug abuse in the U.S. Some shocking statistics provided by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health include:
- More than 7.7 million Americans who were 12 years of age and older admitted to using some type of illicit drug in 2005.
- More than 27.1 million Americans aged 12 and older admitted to using some type of illicit drug in 2015.
- 138.3 million Americans 12 years of age and older admitted to alcohol use. More than 66.7 million people in this group have reported some level of binge drinking in the past month.
- 22.2 million people aged 12 or older in 2015 reported using marijuana. 8.3% reported this use in the previous month.
- Approximately 1.6 million adults between the ages of 18 and 25 and 4.3 million adults over the age of 26 reported using some type of psychotherapeutic drug. This included stimulants, tranquilizers, and prescription pain relievers, all for non-medical reasons.
Some of the adults in the situations above were in a relationship and living with another person. These partners felt the repercussions of drug and alcohol abuse. This is true, no matter if the relationship was a domestic partnership, a marriage, or some other type of informal living arrangement. It is important to note that substance abuse and addiction cases impact everyone in a home – not just the person who is addicted. That is why an effective therapeutic intervention often involves the couple and their children.
The Impact of Substance Abuse on Your Relationships
There is a cycle of conflict that takes place in the most volatile domestic relationships. When this occurs, substance abuse results in physical or verbal conflicts. This can also turn into other disagreements about the substance abuse itself.
Some of the other concerns that may occur for couples who are affected by substance abuse include:
- Sexual, physical, or verbal abuse
- Legal conflicts related to illicit drug use, drunk driving, or child custody
- Financial problems
Drugs and alcohol can significantly impact and impair judgment. They can cause feelings of resentment and anger. They can then create a setting that leads to serious conflict in the home.
Any experience of abuse or any signs of possible abuse should be taken seriously while in recovery. People who have physically attacked or verbally abused their significant other may need anger management therapy as well. They may even face serious legal consequences based on how severe the assault was.
If you ever feel like you are in danger because your partner is abusive, you should seek help right away from the appropriate legal authorities. You can also reach out to a substance abuse treatment professional, or your healthcare provider. You can also find help and support through the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
How to Support Your Partner Without Enabling Them
As the partner of an addict, you must figure out a way to support them without enabling them. It is important to remember that providing support to someone who is addicted can take a huge toll on your emotional health and physical energy. Along with this, the needs of other people in the family, such as aging parents and children, as well as the demands of maintaining social and work commitments can become more than overwhelming if you aren’t careful.
Types of Enabling Behaviors
Enabling is something that happens when one person, usually without any intention or conscious thought, makes it possible for the other person to continue to drink or use drugs without facing any of the potential consequences.
Some examples of common enabling behavior include:
- Neglecting your needs to help another person
- Letting a loved one neglect the responsibilities they have
- Making excuses for your loved one
- Letting an addicted individual abuse you or another person
How to Tell Whether You are Enabling or Supporting Your Partner
If you are creating explanations, making excuses, or continuing to lie for your partner, and if this allows them to stay in denial about their addiction, you are likely enabling rather than supporting them.
Cases of codependency occur when a loved one depends on another person in their partnership. If you live with someone dealing with substance addiction and if you allow them to become too dependent on you, you are enabling them. In some situations, the codependent person will lose their sense of self to “save” the other person from their addiction. However, as a partner gets closer to recovery, the codependent individual may wind up undermining the process to maintain feelings of self-esteem and power.
- If you are the partner of an addicted spouse, be sure to ask yourself the following:
- Are you letting others in your life take responsibility for their own well-being?
- Have you set healthy boundaries?
- Are you getting help from people outside the home or from professionals?
- Do you make time for your own recovery?
- Are you giving yourself time to yourself to help reduce stress?
Treatment Options to Consider
There is research that supports the benefits offered by couples who work through problems together during rehab. This helps with successful recovery from cases of addiction. One option is to engage in behavioral couples therapy or BCT. This helps strengthen the relationship that will ultimately promote and support abstinence. The fact is that people who are in healthy relationships will have a much lower risk of relapsing.
Couples can often attend the same rehab program at a treatment facility. This helps couples develop a strong relationship that will help them see through the recovery process.
Covering the Cost of Treatment
If you have health insurance, this is a good place to start when it comes to figuring out how you will cover the services you receive. However, not all health insurance plans will cover mental health disorders or addiction. Plans will vary in terms of the type of coverage they provide and how long the treatment will be covered for. As a result, it is best to double-check with your provider or with the rehab program you want to attend.
Different Approaches to Modern Couple’s Therapy
According to the information provided by Science & Practice Perspectives, there are therapies available that focus on treatment for both individuals in the relationship. Not only are these treatment programs a good idea, but they have a higher success rate for ensuring long-term sobriety than a therapy that only addresses the person who is dealing with the addiction.
BCT, or Behavioral Couples Therapy, has evolved through the years as a new approach to treating substance abuse in cohabiting partnerships. BCT, which is usually offered to couples who are committed and have a strong desire to improve their relationship emotionally, allows partners to address any dysfunctional patterns that may have sustained the addiction.
There are a few ways that BCT’s therapy helps to enhance a relationship. It works to promote recovery through multiple steps, such as:
- Increasing behaviors of caring
- Improving skills for problem-solving
- Creating treatment for recovery
- Communication skills improvement
- Provide self-help to both partners
- Creation of a recovery contract
It is possible to use BCT as part of any inpatient substance abuse program or by way of outpatient therapy sessions. The main focus and strategies of BCT have, to date, been applied by way of many therapeutic approaches, which provide similar advantages and benefits.
Ongoing Support for Couples in Therapy and Rehab
When it comes to ensuring emotional strength, support groups are invaluable. This is true for the person in recovery and for their spouse. When you can connect with other people who have been through similar experiences and situations, you can begin to learn and use new coping mechanisms and strategies and gain hope for the coming years.
You will also be able to find support groups, such as 12-step programs, in the local community. These are programs that will help you share the experiences you have had and provide support to others still dealing with addiction and trying to remain sober. It can also provide a sense of companionship during more stressful times or in difficult situations.
Some of the 12-step programs include:
- GA – Gambler’s Anonymous
- AA – Alcoholics Anonymous
- HA – Heroin Anonymous
- NA – Narcotics Anonymous
If you want to see the maximum benefits offered by self-help support groups like these, then both partners should participate and remain active. Participation may take the form of going to meetings with your partner, attending the meetings on your own, or taking time to volunteer for activities with the group in your community. No matter what approach you and your partner choose to take to assure recovery – spiritual or secular – making sure you commit to it and participate regularly is essential to maintain the benefits.
Building an Environment That Helps Sustain Recovery
When your spouse or partner returns home from rehab, it is not realistic to expect that they will encounter a completely addiction-proof environment. Even if you have removed all traces of their old lifestyle, other things may trigger cravings.
Be sure to use the information that you learn from rehab and apply them to day-to-day life. As an addict’s spouse, you can provide support without enabling them. Just remember the signs of enabling and using the resources you learned in the program. When it comes to addiction, the more you can learn about helping your spouse, the better. Keep the information here in mind to make the best of a difficult situation. Being informed is the best way to take control.