Relationships can often be affected by the actions and side effects of drug abuse. Couple and marriage counseling provides a safe, guided space where significant others can explore conflicts and find solutions to interpersonal issues. Several different psychotherapy techniques may be used, including behavioral couples therapy (BCT). 

A 2004 article made available by the National Institute on Drug Abuse  reported that “in multiple studies with diverse populations, patients who engage in BCT have consistently reported greater reductions in substance use than have patients who receive only individual counseling.” They also found that couples undergoing BCT had improved relationship satisfaction and family function.

Marriage and Couple Therapy

What to Expect From Couple Therapy

You and your partner will work with a therapist to uncover and resolve relationship issues. Depending on the situation, it might be beneficial for each person to have one-on-one therapy in addition to the joint sessions. A combination of talk and behavior therapy is common in couple counseling. You might encounter several other therapy types, including experiential or structural family therapy, family problem solving, solution-focused, multi-systemic, or narrative therapy. 

Marriage and couple therapists will do the following to help their clients grow and heal: 

  • Encourage you and your loved one to share thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
  • Teach you to process your reactions to events and difficult circumstances.
  • Provide you with information about additional resources like support groups that can enhance the results of your couple therapy.
  • Teach you and your partner life skills, new ways of behaving, and strategies for overcoming disagreements and complex issues.
  • Provide an outside perspective to help you figure out the best path forward when making decisions about the future.

How Substance Abuse Can Affect Your Partner

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that alcohol and other substance use disorders (SUD) can have a severe adverse effect on relationships and increases the risk of developing any or all of the following within a partnership: 

  • Violence
  • Marital or partner conflict
  • Infidelity
  • Jealousy
  • Economic insecurity
  • Divorce

Drug and alcohol use can cause mood swings, temperament changes, and a lack of emotional control leading to people doing and saying things they might not have without being under the influence. Some of the negative behaviors stemming from substance use that can cause problems in a relationship include those listed here:

  • Negativity in the form of frequent criticism, complaints, and judgemental reactions towards your partner disproportionate to the situation
  • An inconsistent approach to accepting your partner’s personal and relationship boundaries 
  • Denial that there is a problem with your behavior or relationship and avoiding accountability for your actions
  • Inability to appropriately express anger, outrage, or frustration leading to violent or emotionally damaging outbursts
  • Setting unrealistic expectations on your partner or relationship and then getting angry or disappointed at them when they do not measure up

Signs You May Need Marriage or Couple Therapy 

Not everyone needs relationship counseling during rehabilitation or recovery. There might be superficial issues that you and your partner can work through fine on your own. However, if you notice some of the following signs, it might be time to speak to a certified marriage or couple therapist:

  • A lack of communication or consistent miscommunication
  • Frequent arguments and persistent negativity within the relationship
  • If you harbor feelings of fear, guilt, or doubt about your relationship or your partner
  • When manipulation is present in any form, including withholding affection as a way to control
  • You or your partner do not seem to be on the same page about major life decisions
  • You feel like your partner does not understand the concept of continuing recovery
  • Either of you has an affair or are fantasizing about having an affair
  • Frequent unfulfilling or apathetic sexual interactions
  • When either you or your partner feel like there is something seriously “off” with your relationship and talking has not helped

Can Therapy Save a Marriage or Relationship? 

Attending therapy without doing the hard work is not enough to repair a relationship that is breaking down. You and your partner will need to put time and energy into making healthy changes in the way you approach the relationship and treat one another. Some couples may find this easier than others.  

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia published a 2012 review of the data concerning the effectiveness of family and relationship therapy. They discovered evidence that couple therapy provided a positive outcome for many of the various research studies participants. However, the effectiveness of therapy decreased when therapists did not use techniques that fit the lifestyle and temperaments of the people involved. You are more likely to find success if you are involved with a therapy that fits your relationship’s needs. You can work with your therapist to determine the priorities to address and how best to move forward.

We are here for you

Substance use disorder (SUD) can lead to relationship issues with your partner or spouse. Rebuilding that trust takes time, and this sometimes requires the help of marriage or couple therapy. Together, you can work with an experienced therapist to figure out what is going wrong in your relationship and how to fix it. During recovery, having your loved one there to help encourage and support you can make a huge difference. There is evidence that couple therapy can decrease the risk of relapse and improve interpersonal relationships. White House Recovery and Detox is here to help you strengthen the bond you share with your significant other.