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What to Do When a Partner Goes to Rehab

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Addiction can be a devastating disease. It can affect your mental and emotional health, finances, legal status, and even your relationships with friends and family. It also can put a strain on spouses and significant others especially. Any relationship that is built on trust can be tested by a disease that often causes a person to lie and steal.

Addictions are often listed as one of the top 10 reasons people get divorced in the United States. Active addiction can be a challenge to a couple, but it can also be challenging when the person with the addiction goes away for treatment. Addiction treatment can last as little as a week, but research shows that longer treatment is generally more effective. Residential programs (a level of care where a person lives in a treatment facility) can last for a month or more. From start to finish, the most effective treatment program can last 90 days or longer.

While a person in recovery isn’t necessarily away from home for the full 90 days, even outpatient programs can take time out of your schedule, which can put a relationship to the test. However, treatment is often the best way to get your life back on track and to stop addiction from negatively affecting you in multiple ways.

If your spouse or significant other has decided to go through addiction treatment, how should you react and what can you do to help the relationship? Learn more about addiction treatment and how you can get involved.

Evaluate Your Substance Use

When a person decides to get into a treatment program you may be concerned, you may be happy, but what should you do next? If you’ve been using drugs or alcohol with someone who develops a substance use disorder, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you also have an addiction. However, it’s worth examining your own experience with drugs and alcohol to find these substances play in your life.

There are various warning signs and risk factors for substance use problems. Substance use disorders also come in several levels of severity. As an official diagnosis, the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual separates substance use disorders into mild, moderate, and severe. If you have been abusing drugs, you may have a mild substance use disorder. If you’ve developed a chemical dependence or a psychological addiction to the drug, you may have a moderate-to-severe substance use disorder.

If drug use has started to affect your life negatively, but you still can’t stop using, you may be addicted. If you believe you may have some level of substance use disorder, you should explore potential treatment options.

Avoid Codependency

Codependency refers to intense emotional or psychological dependence on another person. This psychological phenomenon is common among parents, children, and significant others. When a person decides to go to an addiction treatment program, a codependent spouse might resist it, despite the treatment being in the addicted person’s best interest. 

Someone who is co-dependent might try to keep their spouse with them at all times, even if that would do more harm than good. It’s true that couples should spend time together, but not to the point where a temporary stay in a rehab center should be off-limits. Codependent people may have a lack of boundaries, fear of abandonment, an unhealthy sense of responsibility for the other person, and a need for approval.

Take Care of Yourself

Again, dealing with addiction in your family and in your loved ones can take a toll. When your significant other enters an addiction treatment program, it’s a good time to evaluate your own health and well-being. Take some time for self-care and self-evaluation. If you’ve been experiencing depression and anxiety, it may be time to address those issues.

Be Open to Couples Therapy

Treatment centers may have options for you to sit down with your partner and a therapist. It’s a good opportunity to begin the healing process for your relationship. However, you aren’t obligated to participate in therapy, and if you aren’t ready, you shouldn’t feel pressured. However, it’s often a good way to have your thoughts and feelings to be recognized. Be sure to seriously consider it before deciding one way or the other.

Encourage Sobriety

It’s good to encourage your partner as they are taking steps toward sobriety and mental health. But you might be how surprised how common it is for significant others to tell their partners that they were “more fun” before they became committed to sobriety. Adapting to your partner’s new sober lifestyle can be hard. But for the good of your relationship and their health, it’s important to encourage steps in the right direction.

How Does Addiction Affect Partners?

Addiction is often called a family disease because of the way that it can affect the people around the person with a substance use disorder. A person’s family dysfunction can also contribute to a substance use disorder. Addiction treatment has not always widely involved partners, spouses, or family members. 

However, more treatment programs are including therapy that involves family and partners. Family and couples’ therapy can be a helpful tool in addressing some of the underlying issues that have contributed to a substance use disorder. It also helps to facilitate social healing between someone with a substance use disorder and their family members.

Even after you complete treatment, your recovery process will not be over. Recovery is a lifelong commitment, and you will need all the support you can get. Letting a partner into the recovery processes can help you bolster your support system, and it can help them prepare for what comes next.

Couples are often profoundly affected by addiction. In many cases, a spouse or a loved one can go through a lot of stress and anxiety while their loved one is in active addiction. It’s important to note that addiction is a disease that affects the brain in a way that creates powerful compulsions to use. 

People with severe substance use disorders may feel desperate to find and use their particular drug of choice. Because of this, they may feel compelled to lie, steal, and manipulate to support their addiction. People in recovery often feel extreme guilt for things they did during active addiction. Loved ones may also harbor resentment after being manipulated or lied to.

However, spouses and partners that used to use drugs or alcohol alongside the person in recovery may feel resentment for a different reason. When a person goes through treatment and becomes committed to a sober lifestyle, their partner may feel abandoned or jealous. They may also feel like the person in recovery has changed significantly after going through rehab.

Seeking Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a chronic disease that’s difficult to deal with on your own. With the right treatment plan and professionals to guide you through it, you may be able to achieve lasting freedom from active addiction.

Sources

Gandhi, B. (2017, October 25). 6 major reasons why people divorce. Retrieved from https://www.today.com/health/why-couples-get-divorced-t117476

Grant, J. E., & Chamberlain, S. R. (2016, August). Expanding the definition of addiction: DSM-5 vs. ICD-11. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5328289/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 7: Duration of treatment. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/6-duration-treatment

SAMHSA. (2015, January 12). Warning Signs and Risk Factors. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline/warning-signs-risk-factors

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