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7 Tips for Entering Couples Addiction Treatment Together

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couples addiction treatment

While entering addiction treatment with your partner may seem like a good idea, it has unique challenges.

Partners who use substances together may also be deeply entwined in each other’s day-to-day lives. This can be helpful while you both navigate recovery. However, you must both learn to honor that your goals might differ, you may be getting help for different reasons, and you might want to utilize different recovery strategies.

Couples addiction treatment is not necessarily a bad idea, but considering if you should enter treatment together or individually can improve both of your recovery outcomes.

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How Effective Is Couples Addiction Treatment?

couples addiction treatmentMany facilities do not allow couples to attend at the same time because of the challenges it presents. Couples may struggle to rely on themselves, fear their partner’s reactions, and withhold information in therapy groups to protect their partner’s feelings.

However, specialized therapists, addiction programs, and couples counseling may treat couples exclusively. Research shows that couples who participate in one common therapeutic approach—behavioral couples therapy (BCT)—experience better outcomes than individuals who attend addiction treatment separately.

Individuals who have participated in BCT with their partner report:

  • Lower rates of substance use
  • Higher feelings of satisfaction in the relationship
  • Improvements in other areas of the relationship
  • Significant changes in family functioning, including serious concerns such as well-being of children and incidents of intimate partner violence
  • Reduced risk of divorce caused directly by issues related to substance use

BCT is not the only type of couples addiction treatment, nor are these types of results guaranteed. As you consider your joint and individual treatment options, be mindful of the challenges, boundaries, and objectives of treatment using these seven tips.

1. Seek Recovery for Yourself

Recovery is a personal journey that requires you to be motivated to engage in the process. You can enter treatment and complete recovery-focused tasks for your partner, but if you are not motivated to find long-term recovery, it’s going to be difficult to convince yourself to stay sober after treatment.

A lack of personal motivation may impact how successful rehab will be. If you aren’t yet motivated, but want to join your partner in recovery, a treatment method like motivational interviewing may assist you in finding your own personal, internal motivation instead of relying on external motivators including family pressure, expectations, or ultimatums.

2. Let Your Partner Seek Their Own Recovery Too

You may want the best for your partner and see that they’re not practicing what they learned in addiction treatment, but you cannot manage that process.

Your partner must work their program. You can reflect, including talking things through, but you cannot give orders or force your partner to do anything. It is up to your partner to ask for your support, and it is up to you to be open to providing that, if you have the capacity without endangering your own recovery.

3. Focus on What Works for You

By taking the focus off your partner and shifting it solely onto your personal recovery, you become more independent. Even when progressing as a team, you are more likely to sustain sobriety and be able to fully participate in a healthy relationship when singularly focused.

The only thing you can control is your own recovery.


You have the control over your recovery and what you do to maintain it.

4. Remember That Couple’s Treatment Isn’t a Couple’s Retreat

Couple’s treatment is anything but a retreat. You may have your own room as a couple and share some experiences, but you will be expected to contribute individually.

You can expect to attend couples therapy, group therapy, and individual therapy. Most programs have a structured routine that takes you from early morning to bedtime, without a focus on leisure time. Recovery is work, but it is absolutely worth it!

5. Don’t Use Your Partner’s Experience to Predict Your Own

During treatment you will address the possibility of future relapses and come up with a relapse prevention plan. While your partner relapsing may be a cause for concern that you may even write into your relapse prevention plan, any other person’s choices—including your partner’s—do not predict or guarantee your experience.

6. Don’t Compare Your Partner’s Progress to Your Own

Recovery is a highly individualized process with no two people having the same experience. That means your partner may grasp a part of the process more quickly than you, but it doesn’t mean that they have a “better” or “stronger” recovery.

Give yourself credit for things that you have excelled at too. If you can’t think of any, consider asking your therapist, therapy group, and, yes, your partner for some perspective.

7. Be Realistic About Treatment Outcomes

While you both want to maintain sobriety when you leave treatment, sobriety is not a foregone conclusion. Addiction is considered a chronic relapsing condition, like many other medical conditions.

Your recovery doesn’t depend “performing sobriety perfectly.” It also doesn’t depend on your partner’s strict abstinence for the rest of your lives and relationship. And vice-versa.

You can rely on your partner for support, but you will also need other people in your support network, and so will they.

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What Are the Benefits of Couples Addiction Treatment?

In addition to the potential ways couples addiction treatment can strengthen your relationship, it also provides accountability to one another. You both entered the same treatment program. And although you may have experienced the addiction process differently, you both received similar tools you can use to maintain your sobriety.

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