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Rehab Centers For Couples Addicted To Drugs

Dr. Gerardo Sison

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Gerardo Sison

April 1, 2019

There are rehab centers available for couples addicted to drugs that are dedicated to helping you achieve a new life of sobriety. Before discussing them and how they can help, it is worth knowing how addiction impacts relationships. You might be surprised at how tightly addiction can bond a couple and how hard it can be to break that grip.

Addiction is often a singular problem that affects one person and alienates them from their friends, family, and their romantic partner. However, when addiction impacts both partners in a relationship, you have a volatile situation that is rich with the intensity of love, hate, compulsion, co-dependency, and addiction. Often, it can be harder to beat an addiction when you have an addicted partner than if you were alone in your problem.

Addiction Can Bond Couples Together

For many couples, mutual addictions serve as a bond that may enhance, not detract, from their romantic love. This can seem counter-intuitive to a person who hasn’t been in that situation, but there are many examples of it. One of the most infamous examples was the case of Eva and Hans Rausing and the way that addiction held them together for 25 years and the way it, ultimately, betrayed their love.

This couple met at a California rehab and fell in love quickly. They were together for 25 years and went through various ups and downs, including a 2008 arrest during which they were found to be carrying crack cocaine, heroin, an illegal diet pill, and cocaine. It turns out that their mutual addiction held them tightly-knit to each other, as both struggled to not only help the other one “score,” but to keep their addiction secret.

A study by the National Institute Of Health found that two people addicted to drugs often love each other deeply, but that they “… also care by helping each other avoid the symptoms of withdrawal” by “…colluding with each other to procure and use drugs.” In their case, they helped each other in this way for 25 years in a relationship that friends and family members said was obsessively close. Perhaps that’s why Hans’ apparent murder of her, while awful, didn’t surprise many people.

Unfortunately, when addicted couples suffer from problems, they are often extreme in nature. This is due to the nature of drug use and the way it impacts the mind. For example, it might cause fights about using, including paranoia over one partner using more than the other or hoarding substances from the other. It may also spotlight drug use as a way of coping with fights and other negative relationship moments.

In fact, it often creates a state of co-dependency in the relationship, a relationship dynamic that makes each partner dependent on the other in negative ways. For example, one partner might work three jobs to make enough money to buy their drugs, while the other operates as the “buyer” by putting themselves into dangerous situations into which they must buy. For some couples, it creates a sense of romanticism that can make their relationship seem special or meant-to-be.

It is for these reasons, among many others, that the authors of the essay “I Love You… And Heroin” stated that “… drug treatment providers need to establish policies which recognize the existence and importance of interpersonal dynamics between drug users, and work with them to coordinate detoxification and treatment for both partners, whenever possible, as well as provide additional couples-oriented services in an integrated and comprehensive drug treatment system.”

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Rehab Is Possible For Couples

The dangers of couple addiction and the severity of its co-dependency can be broken in rehab. It will be a difficult procedure for many couples and may require separating the two for a lengthy period of time. This separation time is often crucial for co-dependent relationships, as it helps the partners learn how to live a life without their partner and become a stronger and more independent person. It can also help break the feedback cycle that fuels their addiction.

In fact, some relationships may not survive the rigors of addiction, Once both partners have sobered up and taken a look at their relationship, they may see that it is unworkable in its current state or that it might continue to be problematic in the future. For example, they might not see a way to avoid using if they get back together, or they might even realize that they have nothing holding them together but addiction. If this is the case, the relationship must be broken up for the good of both, no matter how difficult it will be for them.

However, that is only the worst-case scenario. Many couples can survive rehab if they truly love each other and are willing to make it work. However, they need to understand that negative behaviors that influenced their addiction must be eliminated and that recovery has to be fueled by an honest and sustained approach from both members. For example, they have to do many of the following to recover:

  • Bond without the use of substances
  • Find activities that don’t require the use of substances
  • Avoid people and places where they used to use
  • Develop coping mechanisms for relapse and triggers
  • Work towards communicating problems in a constructive manner
  • Rebuild relationships with people they have alienated through drug use
  • Manage any legal or economic problems that resulted from their drug use
  • Get physical and mental health for any concern caused by addiction

The latter point is especially important, as a successful relationship post-addiction will require vigilance and dedication to lifelong recovery. This may result in regular appointments with counselors, sobriety groups, and couples therapy. Building a stronger relationship will help both partners beat addiction by giving them a clean-minded partner who supports their recovery in every possible way.

The Structure Of Couple Rehab

Although the type of treatments will vary depending on the addiction, rehab centers with couples therapy usually utilize a structure similar to the following:

  1. Withdrawal treatment – Negative symptoms of withdrawal caused by discontinued drug use will be managed in a safe and medical manner for both partners.
  2. Health assessment – Any physical health problems, including malnutrition, will be assessed and treated to bring both people back into strong physical health.
  3. Psychological assessment – Both partners will be assessed individually to get an idea of the psychological problems that may be contributing to their addiction.
  4. Couples counseling – Intensive and serious examinations of the nature of the couples’ relationship will follow individual assessment. In this way, it is possible to decide how they influence the other person’s addiction and whether the relationship can be saved.
  5. Behavior therapy – Addiction is a mental and behavioral disease, and treatments like cognitive behavioral and dialectical behavioral therapy will help break negative patterns of behavior (such as using together or patterns of negative interaction) and replace them with positive ones.
  6. Continued care – During a stay at couples rehab, individuals will continue to receive the above-mentioned treatment until they are physically and mentally prepared to rejoin the outside world and regain a life of sobriety.
  7. Aftercare – When addicted couples leave rehab, they need to commit themselves to a life of constant vigilance. This requires attending sobriety classes, creating a sober support system, living in a halfway house (if necessary), and learning how to live a life successfully without an addiction.

The nice thing about couples treatment is that it will help strip the couple of the negative behavior patterns that influenced their addiction and give them a partner in sobriety. This can not only save their relationship, but even their lives. That’s why so many rehab centers are opening up treatment for addicted couples.

Save Your Relationship With Rehab

Addiction will eventually destroy any relationship, whether it causes couples to break up or self-destruct like the Rausings. However, with the right rehab service and real dedication, it is possible to beat addiction for good. If you and your partner are addicted and need help, please contact us at today. We can help the two of you recover the positive and healthy relationship you both crave.

The Guardian - Drug-Using Couples Enabled By Co-Dependency – And Their Happiness

US National Library Of Medicine National Institutes Of Health - I Love You... And Heroin

Mental Health America - Co-Dependency

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