In a partnership, addiction affects both people. While undergoing detox or inpatient rehab is an important hurdle to overcome, couples are often left wondering how to move forward in their relationship afterwards. If you or your loved one is recovering from substance abuse, attending couples’ therapy is a wise choice for both of you. Here are some of the advantages of going for this counseling service.
1. Work Through the Emotional Toll
Addiction doesn’t just hurt the people abusing substances; it can also have a significant emotional impact on their partners. While one partner may be ready to pursue a new chapter after completing rehab, the other may be experiencing lingering feelings of resentment and struggling with forgiveness. Therapy can help couples identify and work through these challenging emotions to move towards a place of healing.
2. Evaluate enabling behaviors
Enabling behaviors can happen both consciously and subconsciously. As a partner struggles with addiction, the other person in the relationship may provide financial support, cover up the issue to others, clean up messes, and carry that individual’s responsibilities. During recovery, it’s important to take a look at the usefulness of these behaviors to help adjust to the new way of life, and begin to resume your life in a way that works for you. Therapy can help couples recognize unhelpful behaviors, which will benefit both parties.
3. Prevent Escalating Issues
Many addicts and alcoholics have experienced emotional or physical abuse. Emotions have been managed and even eliminated by drug and alcohol use, and the recovering person can become overwhelmed by the new access to the feelings world. While no individual should tolerate abuse, therapy may help individuals overcoming addiction find healthy communication patterns to avoid angry outbursts. In other words, counseling is a proactive way to prevent escalating relationship issues before they happen in a relationship that’s rebuilding itself.
4. Identify Supportive Behaviors
Just as therapy can help partners recognize the behavioral patterns that won’t help addiction, it can also allow them to see what they can do to offer support as their loved one recovers. This might include agreeing to avoid certain social circumstances that could make the recovering person uncomfortable, developing realistic expectations, and finding new, sober activities and friendships that you can enjoy together as a couple.
5. Address Relationship Issues
Couples’ counseling can give you the tools you need to pursue a lifetime of recovery, but it may also help strengthen your relationship overall. In some cases, there are be underlying relationship issues which according to the addict contributed to the substance abuse. While we don't indulge in blaming the victim, there are conditions in the marriage that can set up the recovery for success. These could include lack of trust, secrecy, and dishonesty, among others. Getting to the root cause of these issues and establishing healthy coping and communication strategies could propel your relationship into a new place of mutual understanding and respect.
If you or your loved one has struggled with substance abuse and you’re interested in trying couples’ therapy to move forward together, allow Chuck Beardsley, LCSW to help. Serving the Mountainside, NJ community, this compassionate social worker excels in helping recovering individuals and their loved ones pursue fulfilling, healthy lives. Make an appointment for you and your loved one today by calling (908) 274-3189.