Benefits of Couples Therapy for Addiction Treatment

The effects of active addiction can dysregulate and disrupt family dynamics, especially between couples, and it is often necessary to relearn how to effectively communicate and co-exist as partners and a family as part of the recovery process.

Couples therapy can be an important part of your drug addiction treatment plan. We’ll discuss couples therapy, including its benefits, how it is used in addiction treatment, and the treatment options available to you.

What Is Couples Therapy?

In the context of drug and alcohol rehab, couples therapy is a form of behavioral therapy that involves two people in a committed relationship who are both struggling with addiction. Sessions may addresses addiction-related conflicts between the couple and those within the relationship itself.2

Couples therapy for substance abuse can be used to address mental health challenges, communication problems, and other addiction-related issues that can negatively impact the functioning of a relationship.2

In a couples therapy program, both people in the relationship are considered to be the “client” and treated equally.2 Each partner may have sessions individually, especially during the beginning of drug addiction treatment, but for most of the treatment course, the couple will be in session at the same time.2

How Does Couples Therapy for Addiction Treatment Work?

Couples therapy for drug and alcohol addiction works as part of an overall, comprehensive treatment plan for substance use disorders.3 At the beginning of the therapeutic process, you can expect your therapist to obtain a history of the relationship between you and your partner.

Together, you, your partner, and the clinician will work to establish goals for therapy that will be included in your addiction treatment plan. These goals can include things like re-establishing trust with each other, establishing healthy boundaries, and improving communication.

Once your goals for couples therapy have been identified, your therapist will determine appropriate interventions to help you and your partner work toward them. In couples therapy for addiction treatment, your therapist will first incorporate substance-focused interventions to strengthen abstinence, then incorporate relationship-based interventions once abstinence has been achieved.3

Addiction treatment therapy sessions for couples are highly organized and structured. During each session, the couples therapist works to:3

  • Review relationship problems and substance use.
  • Present new skills and concepts.
  • Assign homework that includes skills application.
  • Review the homework from previous sessions.

Couples Therapy in Addiction Treatment

Depending on your needs and recovery goals, couples therapy may be an important part of drug and alcohol rehab, especially if you and your partner are both are struggling with addiction. Addiction therapy can include a variety of interventions, such as individual behavioral counseling, couples counseling, medications, and self-help groups.

Substance use and addiction can contribute to dysfunction in many areas of life, including your health, behavior, and decision-making, and may also negatively impact your relationship. Impulsive and erratic behavior as a result of substance misuse leads to relationship instability, conflict, and stress.3

Couples therapy for addiction seeks to utilize the support of your partner to eliminate substance use by using positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence.3 This is different than traditional marriage counseling, which is more focused on addressing relationship issues that occur outside the context of addiction.

Why Is Couples Therapy Important?

Couples therapy is important because relationships can be both a risk factor for the development of addiction and a key element in the recovery process and relapse prevention.1

Couples therapy for addiction and recovery can help partners:1

  • Find the motivation to begin and complete treatment.
  • Maintain abstinence.
  • Reduce substance use.
  • Improve problem-solving and communication skills in the relationship.
  • Address issues that arose as a result of addiction.
  • Restore and rebalance healthy family dynamics between each other, their children, or other family members.

Benefits of Couples Therapy for Substance Abuse Treatment

There are several benefits of couples therapy in addiction recovery. These include:1

  • Improving the couple’s problem-solving skills.
  • Improving communication skills, like learning to express emotions in a healthy manner, using empathy, and negotiating effectively.
  • Recognizing enabling behaviors and finding a way to replace them with healthy and adaptive behaviors.3
  • Relapse mitigation.
  • Strengthening continued abstinence efforts.
  • Improving the outcome of addiction treatment.

How Effective Is Couples Therapy for Addiction Recovery?

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of couples therapy in general and as part of addiction treatment.

While more research is needed, existing studies show that:5–7

  • Couples-based interventions for alcohol use disorders (AUDs) result in higher rates of abstinence than individual interventions.
  • Relationship satisfaction significantly improves.
  • Couples therapy led to a significant decrease in partner violence and other adverse consequences of addiction after 1 year.
  • Couples counseling leads to an improvement in relationship commitment.

Couples Therapy for Addiction Treatment at Oxford

If you and your spouse are struggling with addiction, help is available at our inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi. Oxford offers a specialized track for married couples that allows committed partners in active addiction to work toward recovery together.

At our couples therapy program, married partners can:

  • Attend addiction treatment together but will be housed in separate rooms.
  • Participate in weekly individual and couples therapy sessions.
  • Take part in focus groups for couples.

Contact our compassionate admissions navigators at to get more information about rehab admissions and our different levels of addiction treatment.

They are available around the clock and can help answer questions about drug and alcohol rehab insurance coverage and other rehab payment options. Call us to begin the path to recovery today.

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