Why Couples Therapy May Be a Part of Your Rehab Experience

Written by Brennan Valeski

& Medically Reviewed by Jenni Jacobsen, LSW

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Last Updated - 12/07/2023

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Updated 12/07/2023

Why Couples Therapy May Be a Part of Your Rehab Experience

Married people or those in committed relationships who deal with addiction may wonder why their case manager or counselor recommends couples therapy as part of their treatment. After all, their spouse does not have an addiction, they do. Why should they need to attend counseling as well?

How Couples Deal With Addiction

If you have a substance use disorder, it may be true that your spouse isn’t the one in rehab, but chances are that the addiction has affected your relationship and made it unhealthy in one or more ways. Typical dynamics for couples when one has an addiction may be that the addiction is ignored, or that the spouse enables or excuses the addiction in some way. Alternatively, the addiction may cause a great deal of conflict in the relationship in the form of frequent arguments. There may even be violence in the relationship because of or independent of the addiction.

The bottom line is that the addiction has undeniably had some impact on your relationship with your spouse, and treatment professionals that have evaluated your situation have made the determination that couples therapy would be helpful in your treatment.

The issues in your relationship are not going to go away when you leave treatment and are in recovery, and they can even get worse after treatment if they are not addressed. Relationships are complex, and each time something changes, even something minor, those changes ripple through the relationship in ways that can be surprising and unpredictable.

You may think that if you stop using drugs or alcohol, your relationship’s problems will be fixed automatically and that you won’t have any further issues. Typically, this is not the case. Your spouse may wonder if they can trust your newfound sobriety and may harbor a great deal of hostility for the things that have happened in the past.

Even Positive Change Can Be Hard

Additionally, your sobriety may reveal problems in the relationship that weren’t even there before or were camouflaged by the addiction. In a sense, you both will have to learn to relate to each other all over again, and changes always take time for adjustment, even when they are positive ones.

Couples therapy is not just for couples who are having problems or thinking about getting a divorce. Just about any couple can benefit from therapy by learning better ways to handle conflicts, communicate with each other and expose the unhealthy aspects of their relationship so they can be improved.

If your treatment staff suggests couples therapy as part of your treatment, it is wise to take their advice seriously and use that therapy to make sure your relationship is as healthy as it can be when you are finished with your treatment and return home to your previous routine. Your relationship can survive and thrive if it has the help and support it needs.

The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake provides Colorado addiction treatment resources that can be used to find the help you need.  Contact The Recovery Village to learn more about options for you and your family.


Sharrell, Renee; Gutierrez, Daniel. “Couples and Addiction: Three Effective Theories.“>Couples […]ive Theories.” The Family Journal, 2014. Accessed September 1, 2023.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).“>Principl[…]ird Edition).” January 2018. Accessed September 3, 2023.

Salonia, Garima; Mahajan, Ranjive; Mahajan, Navkiran. “Codependency and Coping Strategies in the Spouses of Substance Abusers.“>Codepend[…]ance Abusers.” Scholars Journal of Applied Medical Sciences, 2021. Accessed September 3, 2023.

Powers, Mark; Vedel, Ellen; Emmelkamp, Paul. “Behavioral couples therapy (BCT) for alcohol and drug use disorders: A meta-analysis“>Behavior[…]meta-analysis.” Clinical Psychology Review, July 2008. Accessed September 3, 2023.


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