Many people who attend drug treatment in the United States have a significant other that is directly impacted by the other’s substance abuse problem. Alcohol and substance abuse disorders will severely take down the strong foundations of a healthy relationship. The spousal relationship is often first to suffer, but fortunately, there are more and more couples and family-based treatment options available throughout the United States. Drug and alcohol addiction affects many families throughout the United States, which does include couples. Roughly 26 million Americans ages 12 and older are struggling with a substance abuse problem. More than 10% of children in the United States live with a parent who has an alcohol problem. Very often, couples who do marry early are more likely to abuse substances or engage in individual substance abuse.
When two people are living together, and one of them has a substance abuse problem; the domestic life will frequently become chaotic, and even dangerous. Living with continuous drug and alcohol abuse will create a variety of negative social, psychological, and physical conditions. For example, when the significant other is using drugs and alcohol, it will wreak havoc on the finances, as all the funds that may be allocated to household expenses become put towards alcohol and substances. The spouse may begin to steal money or sell things, and they may begin to experience problems at work, and eventually lose their job. The same can be said for a couple that is using drugs together, this relationship is only based on convenience for one another, and feeding off each other’s addiction. When a spouse is often confronted with drug or alcohol use, they will tend to become angry and attempt to hide the problem. An argument with a significant other who is using drugs and alcohol will escalate quickly and sometimes will escalate into violence. Many studies and statistics have shown that roughly 25 to even 50% of the domestic violence between couples will be linked to a substance abuse problem.
The other members of the family who live within the household will begin to accommodate the individual’s addiction to avoid conflict. Essentially it can be a form of enabling, not recognizing the addiction, but covering up the tracks of the one who is using drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse among couples often becomes a relationship of co-dependency, with the sober spouse enabling and supporting the addicted spouse. Many couples will find that they will become socially isolated and will create a feeling of loss as their relationship deteriorates. Everyone else around the couple will also begin to suffer, and the addiction increases the burdens placed on other members of the family. Throughout the United States are treatment options for couples who are battling drug and alcohol addiction. There are several proven therapies such as general couple’s therapy, and addiction-focused couple’s therapy. An addiction-focused couples therapy, such as alcohol behavioral couples therapy, can be an outpatient treatment for individuals with an alcohol use disorder, who are in a relationship. Most therapists will look at the couples’ interactions, which can be triggers for drinking, and positive intimate relationships, which will be important to help motivate someone to change.
There is also behavioral couple therapy for alcoholism and drug abuse, where the therapist will help the couple understand they can reward each other’s abstinence from drugs and alcohol. They can also reduce relationship distress while decreasing the risk for relapse, and in this case, the therapist will often work with both people in the relationship together. Couple’s therapy also integrates cognitive-behavioral therapy or integrated behavioral couple’s therapy. There is also emotionally focused couple’s therapy, which focuses on the emotions as the agent for change, and helps couples identify, experience, and regulate their individual emotions. Group therapy can also be effective for couples who are struggling with substance abuse. Drug and alcohol addiction within a relationship will be devastating, and it will be important to get the proper help quickly.
Ask a Professional
How do I know if it is the correct type of counseling?
Generally, before you or your loved one begin any form of addiction counseling, you receive an assessment from a qualified professional. The assessment or evaluation aims to determine what counseling method is required.
Does counseling replace going to drug rehab?
Not necessarily. Suppose you are a daily drug user; counseling will not solve your entire problem and cannot replace formal residential drug rehab. However, suppose you are a recreational drug user using once a month, then counseling may help your situation.
How do I know if I need group counseling or individual counseling?
An assessment would help you or your loved one determine this. However, most people find significant benefits in group counseling because they can relate to other people with similar situations. Individual counseling is more intimate and addresses specific issues.
Are 12-step meetings considered counseling?
Yes, 12-step facilitation is considered a form of group counseling. Attending 12-step meetings is beneficial for recovering addicts and their families.
What happens if I do not like my counselor?
Usually, with the assessment, it is determined if the counselor is the right fit to address your individual needs. However, circumstances arise where you may begin to disagree with the direction the counseling is going. This is normal; have the discussion with your counselor and if you or your loved one feels it is best to move on, then make that decision.
Want to know more?