When you enter a relationship with someone, you often start to engage in hobbies and activities that interest them and vice versa. Sharing parts of your life with each other is a natural part of getting to know one another and becoming closer. If one person is abusing drugs or alcohol at the start of the relationship, it’s not uncommon for the other person to be pulled into the cycle of addiction as well. Couples may also meet after both entering the cycle of addiction — or meet because of their drug or alcohol use — and continue to use together.
And you might think that couples who use together may have more success if they get clean together. After all, if addiction is closely tied to your relationship, shouldn’t the relationship be part of your recovery? But can two addicts get clean together?
While everyone’s recovery journey is different, the answer to these questions is often no. There are simply too many problems involved in a couple-centric recovery model, and tying your sobriety to someone else’s may sink both ships. This is true for couples whether they are dating or married.
Can Couples Go to Rehab Together?
Couple’s drug rehabs do exist, and there are various options for integrating couple’s therapy into your individual rehab. But if you’re asking can two addicts get clean together with specific intent to enter and work through a rehab program as one unit (made of two people), you may experience numerous problems with recovery. FHE Health Sober Skills Director Art Jacob talks candidly about the risks of entering into a relationship with someone you meet in rehab. But many of the issues he brings up can also derail couples who enter rehab together.
Why Couple’s Rehab May Not Be the Best Choice for You
The truth is that recovery is ultimately an individual concept. It’s your body and mind — your addiction — that must be treated, and while support is good, another person’s journey to recovery doesn’t necessarily help with yours. Your relationship may very well need rehabilitation, but you need to start with yourself before you start fixing your relationships.
Think of it like this. If you and your significant other both had the same chronic physical illness, you would not both attend the same doctor’s appointments or seek out the same operating room and surgical team for a simultaneous surgery. Yes, you might, in the end, support each other and help each other, but the treatment itself is individual in nature. In part, this is because the treatment for you may not be exactly the same as the treatment for someone else, and that’s true with addiction too.
Here are some other reasons couple’s addiction treatment may not be the right choice for you.
Willingness of Both Individuals
Successful recovery is contingent upon the individual being willing to work toward treatment. It’s true that not all people enter rehab willingly; some may be pressured into it by family or even ordered to by the court. And that doesn’t make these attempts at treatment automatically likely to fail. However, it does put the person at a potential disadvantage, as they must eventually come to a place where they are working on rehab and recovery for themselves and their own personal goals.
Often, when two people come to rehab together, there’s a higher likelihood that one of the individuals was coerced into the process. When this is the case, it decreases the likelihood that person will find success during treatment.
One Failure May Mean Both Fail
If you tie your recovery resolutely to someone else’s, you’re creating double the risks at not succeeding. Often, when one person fails at recovery during couple’s treatment, both people end up relapsing.
Treating Your Addiction Is Not the Same as Treating Your Relationship (and Vice Versa)
It’s easy to fall into believing that the only problem with your relationship is that you are both in a cycle of addiction. Some couples believe that treating addiction solves their relationship problems. This is problematic on several levels.
- Your addiction isn’t your relationship. Treating one does not automatically solve all issues with the other.
- Your relationship can’t work through rehab. It can’t work the 12 Steps or take responsibility for actions. It can’t learn to foster healthier coping mechanisms to support sobriety or delve into triggers for your own drug use. These are all individual endeavors required to understand why you started using drugs, why you continue to use drugs and how to break that cycle.
- Couple’s rehab removes an important component of rehab best practices. One of the critical components that make rehab successful for many people is that it focuses on you, your addiction process, how you got here and how you, individually, can journey to sobriety. A major benefit of individual inpatient rehab is that you are freed from the distractions and triggers of life so you can take these important steps. Being focused on someone else’s well-being (or the well-being of your relationship) while you’re in rehab can diminish this effort.
The Benefits of Individual Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Choosing individual rehab, even if you’re both facing addiction, provides for a number of benefits.
- You gain the time you need to work on your own recovery, which doesn’t just enhance your own chances at success. It can also help make you a better potential partner in supporting someone else in future sobriety.
- You’re able to separate your addiction from your relationship, treating one at a time, for better overall results.
- Your treatment can be truly individual when it’s not also tied to what might be best for another person. When someone can be involved in making specific decisions and working with professionals to create a unique, individual treatment plan, chances of a positive rehab outcome increase.
Plus, individual treatment doesn’t preclude eventual couple’s therapy or treatment. At FHE Health, we often encourage others to be supportive of and involved in someone’s treatment, especially significant others and family members. But it’s important to take the time to detach from life first so you have the ability to look at your situation without distraction and begin to work on you and your addiction before you start to unpack relationship issues together.
If You Decide to Opt for Couple’s Inpatient Rehab
According to studies, when both individuals are abusing drugs, neither individual nor couple’s therapy on their own have been shown to be effective in many cases. Starting with individual treatment and following up with couple’s therapy makes sense because it lets you get the advantage of both models.
However, if you do decide to begin with couple’s treatment, there are options. Reach out to FHE Health today if you or your significant other is ready to seek treatment. Contact us today by calling us at (844) 299-0618.
Following Up After Rehab — Individually and as a Couple
Whether you choose individual or couple’s treatment, remember that following up after rehab with a support group, outpatient resources and other treatments is critical to long-term success. Whatever happens with you as a couple, continuing with your own individual life after rehab plan can help you maintain sobriety.