Couples Therapy in Addiction Treatment

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Couples Therapy Can Help You Achieve the Loving, Supportive Relationship You Deserve.

Couples Therapy

If you are struggling with addiction, the illness not only affects you but your whole support network, particularly those closest to you such as your spouse or partner. Because of the systemic effect addiction has on family units, the illness requires systemic healing if long-term recovery is to be achieved. As such, couples therapy is often an essential part of addiction treatment programmes.

What Is Couples Therapy?

Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy, conducted in-person or online, focused on helping a couple work through challenges and interpersonal conflicts, understand relational dynamics, and develop healthier ways of relating to one another. A trained, non-judgmental therapist will use specific therapeutic techniques and interventions to offer support to rebuild a partnership affected by addiction.

Any close partnership can benefit from couples therapy and you don’t need to be living with or married to your partner. However, if you and your partner are both struggling with an addiction it is advised that both of you receive treatment before starting couples therapy. Being in the presence of a person drinking or taking drugs, particularly in early recovery, will often lead to relapse

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The Benefits of Couples Therapy in Addiction Recovery

Research shows that you are much more likely to remain clean, sober and drug-free if you are in a healthy supportive relationship as it can play a significant role in the recovery process. However, whether you are aware of it or not, addiction will have impacted your relationship and it’s normal to experience a sense of trepidation before entering therapy with your partner. 

You might think that your partner doesn’t need therapy as they don’t have an addiction. Perhaps you feel shamed and blamed for the problems in your relationship due to struggling with an illness that you are powerless over.

If you are the partner, you might feel resentful that you are being asked to partake in therapy, embarrassed to be having therapy, or worried that you are going to be accused of having or causing an addiction. You might have had your trust eroded due to dishonest behaviour, be experiencing stress akin to trauma, and exhaustion from worry and the burden of care placed upon you.

Despite your concerns, couples therapy has an excellent success rate if both parties are committed to the process which is designed to help you:

  • heal from a fractious relationship dynamic 
  • improve your relationship satisfaction
  • resolve conflict
  • move forward with new insight, or part ways in a loving manner
  • parent effectively together
  • recognise unhealthy interpersonal behaviour
  • find solutions to prevent you from falling back into old patterns
  • identify what triggers the addiction and navigate these obstacles together

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What Is Behavioural Couples Therapy (BCT)?

BCT is designed for married or cohabiting individuals seeking help for alcoholism or drug abuse. BCT sessions are conducted with both the substance-abusing person and the spouse or live-in partner. Its purposes are to: 

  • build support for abstinence and improve relationship functioning
  • promote abstinence with a “recovery contract” that involves both members of the couple in a daily ritual to reward abstinence
  • improves the relationship with techniques for increasing positive activities and improving communication
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BCT fits well with 12-step recovery programmes, individual or group substance abuse counselling, and recovery medications. Regarded as the best type of therapy for couples in which one partner has an addiction, research shows that BCT produces greater abstinence and better relationship functioning than typical individual-based treatment.

What Is Enabling?

An enabler is generally someone whose behaviour allows another to act out patterns of self-destructive behaviour, like addiction, without fully experiencing negative consequences. 

Enabling may be conscious or unconscious. Either way, it doesn’t mean an enabler supports their loved one’s addiction. The enabler might just believe that if they don’t help or protect their loved one, there will be negative consequences for all involved. 

An enabler may struggle with:

  • ignoring or tolerating addictive acting out
  • providing financial assistance
  • taking on more of their fair share of responsibilities
  • struggling to recognise their own needs and asking for those needs to be met
  • not following through on consequences or maintaining stated boundaries
  • making excuses for an addicted person who fails to show up for personal or professional commitments
  • denying someone has a problem
  • trying to keep the peace by moving from confronting to enabling

Many people don’t realise they are enabling. Couples therapy can help identify this behaviour and show partners how to move from enabling to helping in a supportive way. This might look like setting boundaries, enforcing boundaries when needed, and ensuring the addicted person is responsible for their own behaviour and its consequences.

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What Is Co-dependency?

Definitions of codependency vary, but the condition is typically characterised by a focus on others’ needs over their own, suppression of one’s own emotions, and attempts to control or fix other people’s problems or behaviour despite the negative consequences. 

Co-dependency is common in relationships affected by addiction and might look like continuing to feed a partner’s addiction to keep them happy, turning to drink and drugs in order to feel more connected to them, and not wanting their partner to stop abusing substances as they fear that if they do, they’ll no longer need them and leave.

Co-dependency can be difficult to identify with this habit of people pleasing being mistaken for simply being a caring partner. However, like enabling, co-dependency is an unhealthy pattern of thinking and behaviour which often supports addiction.

Couples therapy addresses imbalances caused by co-dependency, helping a couple to move towards an equal partnership.

Couples Therapy at CATCH Recovery

Couples therapy is available in blocks of 10 sessions and can be conducted either face to face or via Zoom. The total cost for 10 sessions is £1,500.

If you or your partner is recovering from an addiction and you would like explore couples therapy with us, you can reach the CATCH Recovery team on 0203 468 6602.

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