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  • If two people who are intimate both struggle with addiction, they might decide to go to rehab treatment together. This is likely allowed in both inpatient and outpatient programs. 

    There are several substance abuse treatment programs for couples, but whether or not it’s beneficial for you and your partner is something you want to determine. Not all couples should go through rehab centers together.

    Couples In Rehab

    When two people in a relationship are addicted to alcohol or drugs, they might decide couples rehab is for them. Some treatment centers even specialize in couples in rehab. Treatment can last from 30-120 days depending on the program.

    There’s inpatient and outpatient treatment. Inpatient means you stay at the rehab facility 24/7 while outpatient treatment allows you to stay in your own home, go to work, and take care of your family.

    Whether inpatient or outpatient, the program can teach you skills to deal with addiction recovery:

    • how to improve communication in your relationship
    • parenting skills
    • how to handle work and financial issues
    • decision-making and coping

    When Should Couples Go To Rehab?

    There are some signs of addiction in couples that differ from what you might see on a person-to-person basis, including:

    • frequent arguments about drugs and alcohol or issues related to substance use
    • using substances to deal with stress from the relationship
    • feeling you only enjoy time with your partner when you’re both using
    • experiencing physical altercations when using
    • feeling you or your partner only show affection when using
    • isolating from family or friends because of substance use
    • partners neglect common responsibilities like housework or childcare

    What To Expect From Couples Drug/Alcohol Rehab

    Like with individual rehab, the process starts with detoxification. Detox helps remove all drugs and alcohol from the system and allows each patient to go through withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment.

    From there, the couple goes into therapy. While couples may enter rehab together, they may go to individual therapy and then meet up again for couples and group therapy.  

    Couples Addiction Treatment

    There are several types of treatment used in couples rehab. Most take a therapeutic approach and can help with mental health issues as well as addiction. Some of the most common treatment approaches include:

    Behavioral Couples Therapy

    Behavioral couples therapy (BCT) focuses on changing negative behaviors that contribute to substance use disorder. The main goal is to promote sobriety and improve the relationship between the couple. 

    In therapy sessions, couples sign a recovery contract, practice coping and relapse prevention strategies, and improve communication skills. 

    Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy

    Alcohol behavioral couple therapy (ABCT) is specifically for couples struggling with alcohol addiction. It’s similar to BCT but uses a different psychological method to promote sobriety and healthy communication skills. 

    Recovering Couples Anonymous 

    Recovering couples anonymous (RCA) is a type of support group that may be offered in inpatient rehab programs as part of therapy. It’s based on the principles of other 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous. 

    These groups are great for offering peer support and can be vital in helping people stay sober during and after treatment.

    Benefits Of Couples Addiction Treatment

    There are many benefits to couples going to rehab together. If a couple is committed to the recovery process, they can change the way their relationship works entirely. 

    Some of the potential benefits include:

    • greater level of abstinence when compared with other forms of treatment
    • reduces domestic violence
    • breaks the cycle of addiction
    • less emotional issues in couples’ children
    • decreases chances of the relationship ending
    • reduces negative behaviors in the relationship
    • couple learns to engage in rewarding activities together that don’t involve drugs/alcohol
    • deal with issues in the relationship that were hidden by addiction

    Risks Of Couples Rehab

    While the benefits of couples rehab are great, there are some risks that need to be acknowledged, including:

    • one partner can play a negative role in the treatment process
    • difficulty completing treatment due to lack of funds
    • one partner won’t enter treatment (both people need to be committed and in treatment for the relationship and treatment to work)
    • one person doesn’t want to stay in the relationship
    • program/rehab not recognizing LGBT+ couples 
    • ongoing domestic abuse (going to rehab isn’t the solution to intimate partner violence)


    Codependency is when one partner needs the other partner, and the other partner thrives on being needed. 

    This is perhaps the greatest risk for couples going to rehab together. It can be problematic because one partner may be too focused on their partner’s recovery and not focused on themselves enough to be successful.

    If you or a loved one is dealing with an alcohol or drug addiction, call our helpline today to learn more about the best treatment options for you.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Addiction Science & Clinical Practice - Behavioral Couples Therapy for Substance Abuse: Rationale, Methods, and Findings
    Handbook on Couples Therapy - Couples and Addiction
    National Library of Medicine - Behavioral Couples Therapy for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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