For two people in love, their marriage will experience trials and tribulations that can test their love throughout the course of their relationship. It could be dealing with sickness, parents that have fallen ill, or losing loved ones to name a few examples. There are many obstacles to overcome in a marriage free from drug or alcohol use, and having someone by your side during these hard times is what life is all about.
Unfortunately, with drug addiction on the rise, statistically speaking, those who are married are not exempt from these numbers.
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It is a tall task to reverse these high statistics and get someone to enter treatment. For many, unfortunately, that may be too tall a task for someone to commit to rehab. There are many barriers that people use as excuses to not enter into treatment. It is understandable why someone who is married may not want to accept treatment for their addiction if their partner does not want to go, or can’t go based on financial or other barriers.
What should be understood is that addiction is a chronic and progressive disease. The longer couples engage in risky behavior that addiction may cause, the higher the likelihood that in the end, they lose each other either through divorce or potentially death.
When two people are dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, getting help can be difficult. Let’s say one person decides enough is enough, and they choose to get help for their substance use disorder. When they return, and their partner is still in the grips of addiction, it will make it much harder for the partner who got sober to avoid relapsing into substance use once their treatment is complete.
Several factors come into play with addiction, and some of these adverse effects include relationship challenges, financial loss, and negative effects on their physical and mental health. Addiction poses many risks and problems that can be unique to a marriage, but it is imperative that help is sought out.
If both partners are willing to accept they have a problem and enter into treatment, it will help them fall in love in a new way; it can help them learn to recover together. An inseparable bond that they have established once through marriage will be recreated by watching the strength of one another as they get help. When a married couple attends rehab together, it will give them the tools to manage their addictions, understand each person’s individual triggers and cravings, and equip them with the knowledge on how to avoid relapse.
They will also have the ability to improve their relationship while managing other issues, such as codependency and enabling. It will aim toward building a new relationship dynamic that supports one another individually as well as collectively.
Married Couples and Addiction
Couples that abuse drugs are more common than you would expect. In fact, The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center released statistics at one point showing that women who use drugs or alcohol are more than two times as likely as men to have a partner who is also a substance abuser.
Drug abuse is often detrimental to marriages despite the commitment both may make to a union. As mentioned above, marriage can be riddled with the stresses of life, and adding to it with a substance use disorder can help it reach a breaking point.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy points toward signs of a troubled relationship if any of this occurs:
- Drug use or drinking is the married couple’s primary point of happiness when they are together
- If substance use leads to domestic violence on the part of one or both partners
- If the married couple needs to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol to give affection or talk about the relationship
- The married couple neglects their responsibilities as adults such as housework or childcare
The issues we mentioned above can develop on top of other adverse effects as a result of addiction. When it gets to be too much, a partner may decide to seek treatment.
Family Involvement in Treatment
Addiction treatment is typically focused on the individual who’s seeking treatment. Treatment is tailored to their individual needs, and decisions about treatment will be based on what’s best for them. However, involving family members in treatment may be an important part of the treatment process for many people.
Not everyone who comes through addiction treatment will benefit from their spouse or other family members coming to the treatment facility and participating in therapy with them.
For instance, if you have unresolved issues with a family member that you aren’t ready to address, it might be tabled for later in treatment services or after formal treatment. If your spouse is physically or verbally abusive, it may also hinder your treatment plan to have them involved before you are ready. However, many people can benefit from their family members and spouses become involved in treatment. Here are some of the most common benefits of family members in treatment:
- Clinicians can gain insight. Family members getting involved can help your clinical team gain crucial insight about your case that can be useful in getting to the root of your problem. Even if they can’t physically attend treatment sessions with your, if you allow it, clinicians will likely contact family members to gain more perspectives about your background and your specific case. However, clinicians are only allowed to speak to family members about your cases if you expressly allow it.
- It may advance your readiness to change. Family members can help increase your motivation and readiness to change. Not everyone who enters treatment is ready to make a lasting change. Some may believe it’s unnecessary; others may have been court-ordered to attend treatment. Family members can help you become more aware that your substance use is a problem and motivate you to engage in treatment.
- Family members get a voice. Addiction is called a family disease because it usually affects everyone around the person with the disease. Involving family members in treatment can allow them to voice their experiences and how your addiction has affected them. This can increase your awareness, and it can motivate your engagement with treatment.
- Family members can learn about enabling. Enabling behavior is anything that shields an addicted person from the consequences of their addiction and ultimately prolongs or worsens their disease. In some cases, the line between helping and enabling can be blurry. In family therapy, members can learn about enabling behavior and how to avoid it.
- Healing can begin. Family members can start to build up resentments and frustrations through active addiction. Family therapy can help both the addicted person and their family members vent these frustrations and begin the process of healing.
Ultimately, involving family members in treatment can help to strengthen your support system during and after treatment. When you complete treatment, you will have people who have a better understanding of your addiction. Everyone will also have a chance to clear the air and start to build positive family relationships.
Marriage and Treatment
While it may seem like a couple struggling with addiction may have a lousy marriage dynamic, that is not always the case. Sometimes, we get caught up in the struggles of life and turn to drugs or alcohol to take the edge off. Unfortunately, before we know it, a full-fledged addiction develops, and we need help to better ourselves. In the event that two people share a healthy marriage, it can be a therapeutic and powerful experience to go through treatment together.
It can be more likely for couples who both use drugs to relapse after treatment if it is attended separately. Studies from Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy state that positive relationships can be a motivating factor in both achieving and abstaining from drugs or alcohol long-term.
Adding reinforcement and power to a romantic relationship requires convincing both partners to stay clean. Married couples must attend or participate in treatment together in various ways. It will be heavily dependent on the couple’s dynamic and their individual needs.
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Married Couples Attending Treatment Together
The best option for a married couple is to attend the same treatment program. Many treatment centers offer programs that cater to strong relationships committed to recovery. One of the main ingredients in this equation is finding unique methods to motivate couples while they are in therapy together. Someone’s motivation to change and recover from substance abuse is an essential element, which makes the person more likely to complete treatment with the focus and dedication needed to maintain long-term recovery.
One key component in all of this is couples therapy. There are benefits of working with the two members of a married couple together during treatment. Even if one member of the couple develops a substance use disorder, this type of therapy has been proven successful at reducing the risk of relapse. The benefits are also extended to couples where both partners are abusing substances.
Substance abuse affects relationships and often make it difficult to return to how things were before using. Despite the successful completion of treatment, relapse is prevalent and is often looked at as a part of the treatment process. Because of this, one of the primary goals in couple therapy is to guide the couple about how to develop a new relationship standard.
It will include new ways to interact, spend time together, and other techniques that promote and support abstinence. It will take time to learn, but it can help a relationship evolve to a much deeper level than it once was.
American Psychiatric Association. (July 2017) from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (1970, January 01). Chapter 1 Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64269/ Gifford, S. (2018, October 08). Family Involvement is Important in Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved from from https://psychcentral.com/lib/family-involvement-is-important-in-substance-abuse-treatment/
National Center for Biotechnology Information. (July 2013 )The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Families and Children: From Theory to Practice. Laura Lander, Janie Howsare, and Marilyn Byrne. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725219/
National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center from https://socialwelfare.berkeley.edu/effects-social-networks-women%E2%80%99s-substance-use-disorder-recovery-outcome
National Center for Biotechnology InformationSubstance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy. National Center for Biotechnology Information. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64259/