Establishing a healthy, communicative relationship can be a daunting task for anyone especially individuals in early recovery. Substance use disorder has a way of affecting everyone, not just the individual using. Many of us have used our addiction to propel the desirable personas suitable for varying situations. Whether we were looking to become more courageous, sociable, or even more willing to welcome vulnerability, many of us sought out liquid courage to produce the desired effect. Maybe our only experience dating was wrapped up in the love affair with our beloved vices. Either way, George Sand said it best “There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved.”
Couples, in early recovery, face many challenges such as:
- Poor Communication
- Lack of Trust
- Financial Insecurity
- Lack of Vulnerability/Intimacy
- Codependent Patterns
There’s a certain vulnerability required when embarking on the road to long-term sobriety. We can utilize what we have learned, in recovery, to our advantage when we start dating. Most specifically, therapy can certainly increase the chances of success within any relationship in sobriety.
Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism dubbed couples and family therapy as “one of the most outstanding current advances in the area of psychotherapy of alcoholism.” The purpose of Behavioral Couples Therapy is to not only promote abstinence but to also improve overall relationship function.
It’s no secret that discord amongst family and couple relationships often perpetuate the cycle of excessive substance abuse. Furthermore, the divorce rate for addicted couples is 4x higher than the national average. Recovering couples, actively engaging in therapy, have a better chance of maintaining long-term sobriety and increase the rate of success within the relationship.
BCT encourages both parties to engage in a daily abstinence rewarding system. Keeping up with the 12 Step theme of “one day at a time”, couples are encouraged to work together, daily, in couples counseling alongside of actively working on their individualized treatment plan. BCT encourages an individual-responsibility approach, where each member of the couple freely chooses to make needed changes in his or her behavior, independent of whether or not the partner makes reciprocal changes in behavior. This is essential for couples working together in recovery, as their own well-being must come first.
BCT focuses primarily on:
- Problem Solving/Communication Skills
- Positive Activities
- Encouraging Compassionate Behaviors
- Recovery Contract
- Continuing Recovery Plan
- Encouraging Self-Help Coping Skills
Most importantly Behavioral Couples Therapy encourages abstinence as the quintessential goal which must be achieved in order to maintain a happy, healthy relationship.
There are many different types of therapy integrated into the recovery process. Almost all addiction programs recognize this and have found that there is not a one size fits all method to this approach. Behavioral therapy is perhaps the most effective in treating the root of addiction and preventing cravings and relapse. However, there are many different forms of therapy that help individuals maintain their sobriety and cope with their emotions. The goal is to identify and address fundamental issues the addict may be facing. Evidence has proven that recovery is a lifelong process that requires maintenance and consistent spiritual, and individual growth. Therapy is an effective tool used in cultivating the foundation for long-term recovery and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships to allow each individual to blossom spiritually, mentally, and physically.
Consider Online Therapy as an Option
There was a time when you had to visit a therapist in the office to get therapy or counseling. With online therapy, you don’t actually meet the therapist directly, but you do get to meet with a counselor, virtually, in the privacy of your home. Whether you’re seeing an individual therapist or a couples counselor, the therapy you get must meet your needs. Maybe you want to learn coping techniques for anxiety or find ways to communicate with your partner better. Online therapy can help you with all of these goals.
About the Author: Cassidy Webb is an avid writer from South Florida. She advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope.