Couples Addiction Treatment & Recovery

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It’s not uncommon for couples to share an addiction. Whether the people involved are married or are just in a relationship, addiction can often become a shared problem between two people who have grown close to each other.

When this happens and the couple decides to seek treatment, it can create certain complications as to what therapy strategy will have the highest chance of success.

A key part of that strategy is to decide whether the couple should seek addiction treatment together or whether a separate approach would yield a better outcome.

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of couples addiction treatment along with some of the reasons why it may be a good idea. We’ll also cover some situations where it may not be appropriate.

Can Couples Seek Addiction Treatment Together?

Yes. Many treatment facilities have experience treating couples and will use specific treatment options, such as Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT), which is similar to the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that is often used for individuals.

Both BCT and CBT can be effective for achieving couples addiction recovery and sobriety.

For some couples, the ability and motivation to attend treatment together can lead to better outcomes. However, in some cases involving additional psychological or medical factors, couples addiction therapy may not be the best option.

In those cases, each person would be better serviced with more personalized treatment to address their unique underlying issues. 

Signs Of Couples Addiction Requiring Treatment

Some couples may not know they are both suffering from addiction. Many of the signs of addiction can be the same for couples as they are for individuals. However, with couples, early addiction can have specific symptoms to indicate a problem.

Codependent Behaviors

Codependent behaviors for couples can include covering for one another’s drug use or covering for other behaviors related to drug use.

Arguments Over Drugs Or Substance Abuse

Regular arguments over substance abuse issues are another sign of couples’ addiction. Frequent arguments about obtaining drugs or using drugs can be a sign that both individuals are suffering from addiction.


If a couple starts to isolate themselves from friends and family to hide their substance abuse, this is a sign of the couple’s addiction.

Individuals can often exhibit this same isolation behavior, but when a couple does it at the same time, it generally means both individuals are suffering from an addiction simultaneously.

Lack Of Affection Without Drug Or Alcohol Use

If the individuals in a relationship have difficulty showing or expressing affection without drugs or alcohol, this could be a sign they are both suffering from addiction.

When Is Couples Therapy For Addiction Not Helpful?

While couples addiction therapy can be helpful, there are several situations when it’s not a good choice.

Domestic abuse

If there is any ongoing domestic abuse, couples addiction therapy is not recommended. These situations involve too many additional factors and the chance of a successful outcome is reduced.

In these cases, individualized treatment for both parties that focuses on the underlying issues of abuse as well as addiction is better suited.

However, if there was past domestic abuse that has been addressed and treated successfully, then couples addiction therapy may still be an option.

No Interest In A Relationship After Rehab

If there is no commitment to the relationship after going through addiction therapy and recovery, then there is no reason for the couple to attend together.

The goal of couples addiction therapy is to help end the addiction and also to allow the relationship to start new using a different baseline of what a healthy relationship should be. Without that motivation and goal, it’s better for each person to attend addiction therapy separately.

Only One Party Wants To Receive Treatment

This may be the biggest red flag that couples addiction therapy is not a good choice. Whether it’s a couple or not, forcing someone into drug rehab rarely results in a positive outcome. There needs to be a commitment from the patient to enter therapy and see it through until recovery.

If only one party wants treatment, the chance of a relapse is higher and the therapy might be less effective overall.

For couples therapy to work, both individuals need to have a strong commitment and desire for recovery.

Outpatient Couples Addiction Therapy

Outpatient addiction therapy can help with a couples recovery from addiction. An outpatient program can be tailored for the specific couple based on their history of addiction and possibly other factors.

Below are the common treatment options used for couples seeking addiction treatment together.

Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)

The most common form of therapy in an outpatient setting for couples is Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT). This approach helps the couple change their attitudes and responses to certain triggers that can spur their substance abuse.

BCT provides tools for couples to work through common issues with cravings or other stressors that can impact their combined recovery.

Alcohol Behavioral Couples Therapy (ABCT)

Alcohol Behavioral Couples Therapy (ABCT) is a type of therapy designed specifically for couples with an alcohol addiction.

Alcohol abuse in couples can have unique traits that are not found in other substance abuse disorders.

ABCT focuses on the individual, familial, and other social/environmental variables involved with alcohol abuse.

Using either CBT or ABCT has been shown to offer high levels of success when treating couples suffering from alcohol or other substance abuse issues.

Finding Couples Addiction Therapy

If you’re in a relationship and you feel you may both be suffering from addiction, there are options available to help you treat the addiction and maintain your relationship.

At Emory Recovery Center, our addiction specialists can help you decide which treatment option is best for you and your partner.

Our goal is to always provide our patients with the highest chance of recovery and success. 

If you are seeking addiction treatment as a couple, contact one of our addiction specialists today to learn more about our treatment options.




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