Help Choosing Couples Rehab Centers for Addiction Treatment

Last updated on August 28th, 2020

Achieving sobriety can be a difficult undertaking for anyone struggling with substance abuse and addiction, but when partners in a romantic couple have an addiction, quitting can present even more of a challenge. Couples who abuse drugs and alcohol often fight with each other and experience an ever-increasing emotional distance between each other.

This could, in turn, lead to increased substance abuse in a vicious cycle as one or both members of the couple continue to use as a source of stress relief or to escape from their growing problems.

Luckily, couples rehab centers provide specialized care and rehab for married couples as well as cohabitating couples who are struggling with substance abuse issues.

About Couples Addiction Treatment

Getting Sober

No matter how long you have been abusing drugs or alcohol or how bad your addiction is, there are certain steps that anyone struggling with addiction must take if they want to learn how to quit abusing drugs or alcohol. Read More

Seeking addiction treatment together in rehab for couples can be beneficial for a number of reasons, especially when both partners are committed to the relationship and to becoming clean and sober. Providing that both partners are willing to start the recovery process, couples rehab can help not only break the cycle of addiction but also fortify the relationship by helping the couple examine and change the issues that led to their addiction in the first place.

Couples who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often experience difficulties with setting boundaries, expressing feelings, making decisions, parenting, and handling finances. Couples rehab provides education, skills, training, and counseling to help partners achieve improved ways of handling these difficulties.

Even if just one partner has an addiction, the other partner can benefit from couples rehab by learning to manage specific triggers and helping the other stay sober.1 Whether one or both partners require addiction treatment, specialized couples rehab teaches the tools needed to overcome obstacles, prevent relapse, and achieve long-term recovery.

What to Expect in Couples Rehab

The potential result is a long-lasting recovery, and a healthier, happier, and substance abuse-free relationship.

In addition to the standard therapies for substance abuse, participants in couples rehab can expect to focus on the health of their relationship. Individual treatment is helpful for addressing the substance abuse problem, but may neglect or place a lesser focus on relationship issues. Combining relationship counseling and substance abuse treatment in couples rehab tackles the problem from all angles, which can provide the best chances for recovery and for rehabilitating the relationship. Couples drug and alcohol rehab also provides a framework for life after treatment, as the couple may face uncharted territory when they both start living clean and sober lives.

Couples rehab can be either inpatient or outpatient, or a combination in which one partner is treated as an inpatient and the other attends sessions as an outpatient. The format you select depends largely on your unique needs as a couple and whether one or both partners are suffering from a substance abuse problem.

Throughout the course of inpatient treatment, the person struggling with drug or alcohol addiction lives at a residential drug rehab facility, whereas outpatient rehab allows the patient to continue living at home while receiving treatment at the facility. Regardless of the format, clinical research shows that partners who attend couples rehab for drugs or alcohol together report a higher degree of abstinence, greater levels of satisfaction with the relationship, and better functioning within the family than couples who only opt for individual addiction treatment.3

Addressing substance abuse problems with the specific tools and methodologies used in couples rehab allows you both to focus on attaining sobriety and repairing and strengthening your relationship. The potential result is a long-lasting recovery, and a healthier, happier, and substance abuse-free relationship.

What Substances Can Be Treated in Couples Rehab?

Regardless of the substance being abused, couples rehab can help struggling partners overcome the negative cycle of addiction and take back control of their relationship and their lives. Even if you and your partner have been heavy or long-term users, couples rehab can provide numerous benefits. Couples rehab centers treat a wide range of substances, including:
Couple dealing with alcohol addiction

Essentially, abuse of any substance can be treated in couples rehab. Additionally, rehab can also help address and treat any co-occurring mental health or psychiatric issues you or your partner may have, such as depression or anxiety. Entering rehab as a couple is likely the most important step you will ever take to ensure the health and happiness of your relationship.

What Treatment Methods Are Used in Couples Rehab?

There are various treatment methods available for different types of substance addiction. Generally speaking, most treatment centers rely on some sort of behavioral therapy to address addiction issues, because behavioral therapy promotes positive and lasting change. Behavioral therapy teaches couples new ways of interacting, helps increase positive interactions, and promotes clear and supportive communication. This helps couples achieve abstinence and develop happier and healthier relationships.

Some common treatment methods used in couples rehabs include:

  • Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT). BCT is designed to help couples suffering from drug and substance abuse using behavioral modification techniques. One of the main ways this is achieved is through the creation of a “recovery contract” with your partner. The recovery contract requires that you state your intention not to drink or use drugs each day, while the task for your spouse is to provide support for this goal.1,3 In BCT, the couple is usually seen by a therapist once or twice per week in a private or clinical setting to discuss goals and develop and fortify new coping skills. Sometimes, therapists may arrange for group therapy sessions, in which several couples are seen at once.3
  • Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy (ABCT). For couples struggling specifically with alcohol addiction, ABCT is a method similar to BCT that draws on different psychotherapeutic models to promote abstinence and increase healthy functioning within the relationship. This is an outpatient form of treatment that aims to increase communication, problem-solving, self-control, and contingency-management skills in order to help the couple achieve sobriety.2
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). This addiction treatment method provides comprehensive treatment to address the substance abuse and uses medications—such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone—to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, assist in detoxification, and provide maintenance once the detox period has ended. MAT also incorporates education for non-addicted spouses on how to best support the recovery of their partner.4
  • 12-step meetings, such as Recovering Couples Anonymous (RCA). Couples rehab centers often offer 12-step meetings as an additional form of support for recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Many couples choose to continue participating in RCA meetings after completing treatment. As with other types of 12-step recovery groups, the focus is on submitting to a higher power and working through the 12 steps of recovery with the assistance of a sponsor, but RCA also emphasizes the importance of the couple staying committed to each other and to their shared sobriety.

Is Couples Rehab Right for Us?

Couple considering couples rehabFor couples struggling with addiction and substance abuse, using can become the only activity the couple enjoys together. If you notice that drinking or drug use is harming your relationship, now is the perfect time to consider entering couples rehab. Putting off treatment could mean even more damage to your relationship.

Couples rehab can help struggling partners address issues such as:

  • Arguments about substance use. Perhaps you’ve noticed an increase in fights that revolve around money, neglect of daily responsibilities, or one partner staying out too late partying.
  • Covering up for your partner. For example, if your partner is hungover in the morning, you may call in sick for them at their workplace. Or if your partner is too preoccupied with using to attend family functions, you might make up excuses to cover for their absence.
  • Isolation from friends, family, and other social support. Drinking or drug use can become so pervasive that you start avoiding people with whom you used to socialize.
  • Achieving intimacy only when using. For example, you might find that you need to use drugs or alcohol in order to feel close to your partner or to show physical or emotional signs of intimacy.
  • Episodes of domestic violence. Drinking and drug use destroys your ability to use proper judgment and blurs your sense of boundaries. You might find that you hit or push your partner out of anger (or tolerate this behavior from them), only to feel regret the next day. Sometimes, this cycle can escalate into serious cases of domestic abuse.

Your addiction doesn’t have to control your life or your relationship. Don’t wait until the damage is irreparable.

What Info Should I Prepare Before Calling a Hotline?

Before you pick up the phone, you’ll want to organize some information about you or the addicted individual you’re calling on behalf of. For instance, you’ll want to note your or your loved one’s insurance plan and policy number. Further, you’ll want to list as much information as you know related to the substance abuse itself, such as different substances abused, amount used, duration of use, and method of administration.

If possible, please also disclose any co-occurring mental health or medical conditions. These are highly relevant to addiction treatment, as its necessary to find a rehab that has experience in addressing your or your loved one’s unique needs.


  1. O’Farrell, T. & Schein, A. (2000). Behavioral Couples Therapy for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 18(1),5154.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy.
  3. Fals-Stewart, W., O’Farrell, T. & Birchler, G. (2004). Behavioral Couples Therapy for Substance Abuse: Rationale, Methods, and Findings. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, 2(2),3041.
  4. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005). Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs: Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 43. Rockville, M.D.: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration..
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