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Going to Treatment as a Couple is a Bad Idea

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Going to Treatment as a Couple is a Bad Idea

Loving someone who suffers with an active addiction is hard enough—but when you’re suffering along with that person, everything becomes more complicated. You’re painfully familiar with the demon that holds power over them, because it holds you in thrall as well. And the dysfunction that plagues active addiction starts to bleed into your relationship as well. Addiction taints the fundamental ability to trust within a relationship. So going to treatment together may seem like an ideal solution to improve both of your lives. But ask any treatment counselor about the issue, and you’ll get the same answer: going to treatment as a couple is a bad idea.

Treatment as a Couple

Treatment is About YOU

Relationships form a core part of our lives. When you love someone so deeply, they may seem like they have become part of who you are. You put them before everything else, and you consider them before committing to any important life decision (like going to treatment). So when they have the same problem as you, why WOULDN’T you work on it together?

The truth can be difficult to accept: treatment is about you, and only you. Adding a significant other to the mix for “support” muddies the waters and creates an environment where you are not 100% focused on yourself. This person functions a crutch rather than a cheerleader, as by definition they cannot stay on the sidelines while you go through treatment. Learning to walk with a crutch inherently limits your capacity to function as an independent person in recovery.

Breaking Patterns of Behavior

One of the core problems with bringing a significant other to treatment is how they create a comfort zone. Recovering from drug/alcohol addiction should not be cozy. It should challenge you, force you to truly confront difficult questions, and face adversity head-on.

When your significant other helps you rise to the occasion, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have the strength to do that alone when times get tougher. Recovery doesn’t end when you leave treatment. It’s a lifelong test of your resolve to live life on life’s terms. And life’s terms often don’t give you access to your significant other’s support. So phoning it in during the treatment phase only acts as a detriment to your recovery long term.

Treatment as a Couple: The Danger of “F*** It, Let’s Leave”

The process of detoxing, going to therapy, and participating in groups requires brutal honesty. And it requires us to address hard truths that are uncomfortable. Since you enter rehab voluntarily, the option to leave can flash like a neon sign when you have immediate access to your partner in crime.

Convenience is dangerous when both parties are struggling to stay in the right mindset. Going to treatment as a couple creates many opportunities to talk about leaving. And if the topic is broached enough, a case of the “f*** it”s can easily manifest. The danger of relapse becomes very real at this point. While this can also happen with any friend you make at a rehab facility (be careful of the company you keep), it’s much more likely when you have an established familiarity and history of use with that person.

Setting BOTH of You Up for Success

There is no doubt that a codependent couple that struggles with drug use should get on the right track in order to achieve a happier future together. But the “right track” to that future would be more aptly described as tracks; that is, two parallel experiences that are separate but still going in the right direction together. Several reasons factor into why each member of a couple should go to their own rehab.

  • Rehab isn’t Couples Therapy

    There is certainly a time in rehab to address family and relationship issues. But family days are separated from the core experience of rehab. Couples therapy does not work when both parties are coming to the table at a disadvantage. Get your recovery on track first, THEN focus on relationship issues. You’ll probably find that plenty of those problems (which were due to addict behaviors) clear up on the way.

  • Going in Together Diminishes the Experience

    Rehab is not a vacation. You’re not there to sightsee and recharge while vaguely participating in groups. Significant others mean a lot to us, and we value their time and attention—this should not be your focus when you are getting help for a crippling addiction problem. The experience of talking to therapists, going to group, and living with strangers who also share your issues is supposed to put you on edge. That’s how the hard work of rehab gets done. We are forced to perform under pressure, rather than cruise through it with your significant other.

If you or a loved one is seeking help for a substance abuse problem, our addiction counselors are available 24/7 by phone: 855-737-7363

Posted in Addiction, Detox, For Loved Ones, Recovery, Residential