Updated on February 6, 2024
8 min read

Couples Rehab Treatment Programs: Can You Recover Together?

Key Takeaways

Couples and Drug Addiction

Alcohol and drug addiction can damage relationships. Romantic partners may struggle to achieve and maintain sobriety if they have substance use disorders (SUD).

Couples rehab helps intimate partners deal with substance abuse. It is addiction treatment for couples where one or both members misuse and abuse drugs or alcohol.

It’s also a good option for lifelong partners and parents who struggle with addiction but want to stay together. You’ll be able to work on your relationship with your partner and get better together.

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How Can Couples Rehab Help?

Drug and alcohol abuse leads to psychological, economic, and social consequences. A couples rehab program can help you manage your addiction and maintain your relationship.

It can help addicted couples:

  • Overcome drug abuse and addiction
  • Repair relationship problems that resulted from drug use
  • Establish healthy coping mechanisms to prevent relapse
  • Successfully quit drugs and stay sober
  • Reduce addiction’s negative impact on your relationship and family.

Attending Drug Rehab Treatment Programs Together

Couples rehab requires partners to attend treatment sessions together. For treatment to be effective, couples should be willing to rebuild their strained relationship.

You’ll both need to be equally committed to your recovery as an individual and a couple. The recovery process will not be easy. So you should also be motivated to complete rehab despite its challenges.

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Rehab Together

The Benefits of Couples Drug Rehab

Couples who undergo rehab together learn coping skills. These skills are essential to recovery and aid couples in improving their relationship.

Here are the things you can learn from couples rehab:

  • Communication skills: Communicate your thoughts and feelings clearly and effectively, so you can avoid misunderstanding
  • Anger management skills: Learn to manage negative feelings such as stress and frustration without resorting to anger, emotional outbursts, and violence
  • Conflict resolution: This helps you address misunderstandings, disagreements, and opposing opinions calmly and rationally
  • Stress reduction methods: Learn different ways you can reduce stress

Knowing how to deal with relationship problems is the most critical aspect of couples rehab. Being in a healthy and happy relationship is vital to preventing relapse.

Addiction Treatment Programs for Couples

Various treatment options can help you and your partner work on your addiction together. These treatment options include:

  • Inpatient rehab: Involves checking yourself into a rehab facility for 24-hour medical supervision 
  • Outpatient rehab: A treatment program where you are freely allowed to leave the rehab facility
  • Intensive outpatient rehab: A treatment program that will enable you to return to your day-to-day life 

Below are the different types of inpatient and outpatient treatments available:

Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)

Couples therapy⁠, also called behavioral couples therapy (BCT), is the mainstay of substance abuse treatment in couples. It is a psychology-based approach that helps with both drug and alcohol addiction.

BCT is for married couples and cohabiting partners who live together. The treatment involves a "recovery contract" where partners complete daily tasks and reward abstinence.

Couples therapy requires a lot of communication. It promotes abstinence and improves relationships better than individualized treatment. Studies further show it reduces domestic violence and the emotional stress of a couple's children.2

Couples Detox and Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can appear within hours of quitting substance use. Professionals recommend detoxification for couples who experience withdrawal.

A medical detox is an inpatient treatment lasting as long as you have symptoms, typically 7-10 days. However, this depends on the type of drug and how long you have been taking them.

The goal of detox is to prevent relapse by making withdrawal more comfortable. Doctors will provide medications to ease your symptoms. They will monitor your progress to ensure your comfort and safety.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Healthcare providers may give couples with more severe SUDs medications to control their cravings. Examples include: 

  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naloxone

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is not something you take alone. Doctors often prescribe it with counseling and behavioral therapy because MAT cannot treat substance use problems alone. It only lessens cravings so you can avoid relapse.


Psychotherapy or talk therapy involves therapy sessions between a licensed therapist and individuals. Professionals can also perform it on couples seeking treatment for substance use disorder.

Sessions are usually held once a week and take up to an hour. The whole treatment can last for several sessions only (short-term) or take months or years (long-term).

According to studies, psychotherapy can cause positive changes in the brain. It has also improved a person's behaviors and emotions.3 Both can help create happier and healthier relationships.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Couples struggling with substance abuse and mental health have a co-occurring disorder. It requires dual diagnosis treatment, which provides specialized care for both conditions.

Dual diagnosis treatment is more effective than treatments that address these problems separately. Unfortunately, very few treatment centers offer it.4

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How to Reinforce Sobriety After Couples Rehab

In addition to rehab, you can take more measures to keep each other sober. You can start these steps in a couple's addiction rehab or after completing treatment.

Twelve-Step Recovery Groups

Couples can choose from several 12-step programs, but the premise remains. Members must help one another achieve abstinence and maintain it throughout recovery.

Recovering Couples Anonymous (RCA) is perhaps the most popular 12-step recovery model for couples. The group's philosophy is that relationships need constant nurturing and care between partners.

Both partners must be mutually responsible for the challenges of the relationship. But they must also understand that individual development is essential to recovery and a healthy relationship.

Couples Sober Living

A sober living facility is a safe, structured home environment promoting sobriety. There are house rules and a schedule that you need to follow. 

Drugs and alcohol are also not allowed on the premises. You can choose from co-ed sober homes and homes that only cater to couples in recovery.

Relapse Prevention Programs

Some rehab centers offer relapse prevention (RP) programs. It is education-based psychotherapy designed to help you avoid relapse and stay sober. 

These programs teach you to:

  • Learn the difference between a "judgment lapse" and a relapse
  • Identify personal triggers that may cause you to relapse
  • Plan positive activities that you can do instead of using drugs or alcohol
  • Change unhealthy habits for healthier ones

Warning Signs of Substance Abuse in Couples

Children whose parents have substance use disorders (SUD) are more likely to develop symptoms themselves.1 If you and your partner show the following signs, you may need addiction treatment:

  • One or both have a problem with addictive substances
  • Turning to drugs and alcohol after an argument
  • Fighting drinking or drug use and its effects
  • You spend time together drinking excessively or doing drugs
  • Domestic violence and abuse while under the influence
  • Increasing isolation from friends or family
  • Needing to use drugs or alcohol to be intimate

How Does Addiction Affect Relationships?

Addiction affects relationships in different ways. It can negatively impact your partner, family, and friends.

For example, a parent who loses their job from alcoholism might fail to provide for their family. A normally caring person may neglect their partner's emotional needs if they develop a drug or alcohol addiction.

Other ways addiction can affect relationships include:

  • Codependency
  • Lack of intimacy or affection
  • No sense of stability
  • Commitment issues
  • Loss of respect
  • Deception and mistrust
  • Financial problems

What is Codependency?

In relationships where only one person is addicted, codependency may develop, which can be one-sided and exhausting. Codependency is a dysfunctional relationship dynamic where one person sacrifices their needs and well-being for another.

It can happen when you provide, support, and care for someone irresponsible and destructive. By protecting this kind of partner from the consequences of their actions, you’re enabling their addiction.

Signs of Codependency

Signs of codependent behavior include covering for a partner and making excuses for their substance abuse. Other symptoms of codependency include:

  • Decision-making difficulties
  • Difficulty identifying your feelings
  • Communication issues
  • Valuing the approval of others instead of yourself
  • Lack of trust in yourself
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Fear of abandonment or need for approval
  • An unhealthy dependence on the relationship
  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for your partner

Who Shouldn’t Do Couples Rehab?

Couples drug rehab is not for everyone. There are instances where treatment can’t begin because other issues are present.

Here are some cases where professionals do not advise couples rehab:

  • One or both partners have needs requiring a special treatment facility
  • One partner is diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder
  • If domestic abuse is an ongoing issue in the relationship
  • Only one partner has the desire to enter rehab
  • One or both partners do not want to continue the relationship after rehab
  • One or both partners need to work through past trauma or abuse
  • One partner is forcing the other partner to go against their will
  • When the couple cannot decide on the end goal of therapy

Choosing to enter treatment, with or without your partner, is difficult. When both partners are ready to recover, couples’ drug rehab can be an effective tool and help strengthen a long-term relationship.


Alcohol and drug addiction can damage relationships. If you and your partner both struggle with substance use disorders, you’ll have difficulty achieving sobriety.

Couple’s rehab is a treatment program that focuses and your relationship and working through addiction together. It’s a great option for partners who still want to stay together despite their addiction.

There are many benefits to entering a couple’s rehab for achieving and maintaining sobriety. Various treatment options can cater to your specific needs.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
  1. "Children Living With Parents Who Have A Substance Use Disorder." Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

  2. "Behavioral Couples Therapy for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse." National Center for Biotechnology Information.

  3. "What is Psychotherapy?" American Psychiatric Association.

  4. "Dual diagnosis capability in mental health and addiction treatment services: An assessment of programs across multiple state systems." National Center for Biotechnology Information.

  5. Romantic Relationship Status and Alcohol Use and Problems Across the First Year of College." National Center for Biotechnology Information.

  6. Fischer DJ & Fink BC. “Clinical processes in behavioral couples therapy.” Psychotherapy, 2014.

  7. Klostermann K & Mignone T. “Behavioral couples therapy for substance use disorders.” Soc Behav Res Pract Open J, 2019.

  8. Recovering Couples Anonymous.” RCA.

  9. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy.” Nih.Gov, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US), 2014.

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