Coping Skills for Couples
When the relationship dynamic involves addiction, treatment will be tailored around acquiring new recovery skills that double as support for the relationship itself. Addiction can fuel disharmony in the home, which shows up as anger, frustration, and resentment. Depending on the specific substance involved, the drug or alcohol can lead to thought distortions, paranoia, delusional thoughts, and irrational thinking in general. This can lead to increased fighting, including domestic violence. By coaching couples to improve their interpersonal skills, conflicts or frustration can be managed in a more productive way.
Couples rehab will center on psychotherapy; individual, couples, and group sessions. If there are any underlying mental health issues, such as trauma, abuse, or grief, these will be examined and treated. It may be that one partner has a co-occurring mental health disorder or a trauma disorder, such as PTSD. The program will address each individual’s unique emotional issues as separate parts of the whole. When each individual is working on overcoming their personal issues then the couples element will rest on a stronger foundation going forward.
In addition, relationship and coping skills will be introduced as helpful tools to be accessed in the couple’s recovery. Many times, the couple will have entrenched dysfunction in their relationship dynamic. Learning how to better relate to each other and manage conflicts will aid the recovery process. These skills include:
Couples will benefit when they learn how to communicate feelings, concerns, or grievances in a way that is fair and non-confrontational. Becoming aware of the impact of eye contact, body language, ineffective accusatory phrases, and active listening will increase awareness about how to improve the communication aspect within the relationship. Effective communication skills help couples convey their thoughts and feelings clearly, whether they are positive or negative in nature.
Drugs and alcohol can fuel frustration and emotional outbursts, possibly even leading to potential verbal and physical abuse within the home. In fact, in the majority of domestic violence cases, drugs or alcohol were involved in the altercation. In recovery couples learn how to better manage emotions like frustration and stress without resorting to anger or violence.
In recovery, learning how to calmly address misunderstandings or differing opinions within the relationship is key. Using special techniques, such as not putting the other person on the defense, and restating the issue before launching a verbal attack, emotions can be cooled down and more rational discussion can ensue. Couples learn methods for conflict resolution that they can use in all aspects of their lives.
- Stress Reduction Techniques
As a common trigger to relapse, stress is the number one challenge to a sustained recovery. Learning how to reduce stress through techniques such as deep-breathing exercises, mindfulness, yoga, guided meditation, or massage therapy can help partners learn methods to regulate stress in their relationship while also reducing the risk of relapse.
COUPLES REHAB TREATMENT
WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL COUPLES THERAPY (BCT)?
Addressing a substance use disorder that is afflicting both partners in a marriage or relationship is going to rely on a menu of treatment elements. A core treatment modality for couple’s addiction rehab is called behavioral couples therapy, or BCT. This type of psychotherapy is focused on improving relationship and family functioning in couples who are seeking treatment for a substance addiction. The partners create a “recovery Contract” where they state their intentions to remain abstinent and promise to be supportive of each other’s recovery efforts.
BCT is based on the theory that couples in recovery who have better communication styles and conflict resolution skills will experience lower relapse rates. The short-term program offers couples assorted assignments or exercises that help them improve the bond through positive and affirming attitudes and actions. BCT is often utilized as an adjunct therapy with individual psychotherapy.
COUPLES REHAB TREATMENT ELEMENTS
Couples may opt for either an outpatient program or a residential program. The residential program offers a higher level of care and intensity and may allow the couple to remain in housing together, although each rehab program has their own policies regarding the housing. Outpatient rehab is suited for individuals who have an emerging or mild substance use problem but offers various levels of intensity based on the severity of the substance use disorder. Outpatient rehabs include intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP), with the PHP being the highest level of outpatient care.
Treatment elements include the following:
- Detox and withdrawal. Detox is the process during which the body is eliminating the residual substances, which is accompanied by withdrawal symptoms as the body attempts to stabilize in the absence of the substance. The symptoms are caused by the brain responding to the absence of the substance of abuse. Symptoms may emerge as early as 6 hours after the last drink or dose, but usually begin after 12 hours of abstinence. Detox is monitored by qualified professionals who will provide various interventions as the withdrawal symptoms intensity. On average detox and withdrawal takes 7-10 days.
- Therapy. Psychotherapy is provided in both individual therapy sessions and in group therapy sessions. Both of these formats help the partners learn individually or together as a couple the areas of dysfunction that have allowed addictive behaviors to become established. Any underlying emotional problems, such as a past trauma or loss of a loved one, will also be examined in therapy. If either partner has a co-existing mental health issue, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it will be treated simultaneously. Group support sessions allow other couples to share about their own challenges and can help group participants become supportive of each other during the rehab process.
- MAT. Some individuals may be prescribed a medication that assists in maintaining sobriety. These drugs, such as naltrexone, buprenorphine, or methadone, bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and dramatically reduce the effect of the substance which leads to lower levels of drug craving. This leads to a reduced interest in engaging in substance abuse, which can help to prevent a relapse. MAT can dramatically improve stability in the first year of recovery.
- Complementary activities. One of the many benefits of a luxury couples rehab program is the range of spa-like amenities available. Assorted experiential activities can enhance the overall treatment experience, as well as improve mood and reduce stress levels. All of this “complements” the traditional psychotherapy and group therapy sessions. These activities include acupuncture, exercise and nutritious meals, learning mindfulness techniques, yoga classes, art therapy, therapeutic massage, recreational therapy, and equine therapy.
- Twelve-step recovery programming, or similar. Couples rehab offers the option of a traditional 12-step group or a non 12-step program such as SMART Recovery or LifeRing. Local chapters allow couples in recovery to attend the meetings as a part of the rehab programming.
- Relapse prevention planning. Prior to completing the couple’s rehab program the partners will develop their own individual relapse prevention strategies that are based on their personal triggers. The more detailed these plans are the more useful this exercise is in recovery. Couples are encouraged to be completely honest when considering the situations that might trigger a relapse. While in rehab many of these issues can be dealt with in a productive manner, hopefully giving each partner helpful coping tools to use in recovery.