Being in a relationship is ideally your paradise, a source of love and comfort. However, not all are blessed to have a fruitful and healthy relationship or marriage, especially if your partner is under the influence of alcohol. This changes everything and it ruins the sweet essence of being in a relationship.
If you are in that situation, perhaps, it’s best for both of you to undergo couples therapy for the alcoholism problem. This is also called Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT) and it’s very helpful in resolving addiction problems while slowly restoring your healthy relationship.
Let’s learn more about this.
How Does Alcoholism Affects Intimate Relationships
When one or both partners in an intimate relationship are abusing alcohol, it results in a destructive relationship that leads to multiple problems on finances, communication, physical abuse, and health issues.
Forty to sixty percent of reported cases of physical abuse among couples are caused by either substance abuse or alcoholism. Whereas, an alcoholic parent has a higher chance of abusing their children and partner.
How Alcoholism Contributes to Divorce
There are several reasons why marriages resort to divorce in the U.S. and one of them is alcoholism. A person consuming one liter of alcohol can increase the rate of going to divorce by 20 percent. This is further supported by the higher chance of financial losses, physical abuse, broken trust, broken communication, and unhealthy treatment to the partner.
The negative effects of alcohol are greatly damaging to the lives of couples, and it aggravates the chance of divorce. If your relationship or marriage is affected by alcoholism, better seek medical help and behavioral counseling from a professional.
What is Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)
BCT is one of the most feasible alcoholism treatments done on couples or married people. This program aims to promote abstinence while improving the healthy relationship of the couple.
The couple will undergo around 12 to 20 couple sessions every week for a 3 to 6 months period. This is an outpatient therapy session, which can be standalone or paired with an existing individual or group counseling.
Under this therapy, the couple agrees to a “Recovery Contract” for successfully abstaining from alcohol drinking. For this contract, the patient partner promises to abstain from alcohol drinking while his or her partner pledges to provide support. Also, the couple will be doing several activities that will promote positive communication and treatment with each other.
This treatment can be combined with any existing individual or group therapy done by the couple. In most cases, BCT showed a higher chance of patients successfully recovering from alcohol independence due to the restoration of healthy relationships.
What are the components of a Recovery Contract?
This is a contract between couples to foster abstinence from drinking alcohol. Here are the basic parts of this mutual relationship contract for treating alcoholism:
- Affirmation of the patient couple to abstain from drinking
- Partner witness and express support for the medication and abstinence of his or her patient loved one
- Group support
- Weekly alcohol or drug test
- Weekly activities for the couple to support recovery from alcoholism
- A progress report and calendar
BCT with Medication for Treating Alcoholism
The prescribed medicine will still be given to the person with alcohol use disorder (AUD). These medications include disulfiram and Naltrexone. Disulfiram is an Antabuse drug that makes the patient have nausea, headache, and vomiting when he or she drinks alcohol. Naltrexone helps reduce the pleasurable feeling of a person when he takes in alcohol.
Combining BCT with medication shows higher effectiveness in helping couples gain sobriety from alcohol. Be sure to get a prescription from a doctor and follow it to avoid overdose.
What are other Treatments for Alcoholism for Couples
Besides BCT, there are other proven therapies used to treat patient couples with alcohol use disorder. You can consult a doctor or addiction specialist to get custom-fit advice and a recovery plan. Here are the common therapies applied in the industry:
Alcoholics Anonymous is one famous 12-step program used today. This therapy works on the principle of mutual support and motivation among peers. Each group member feels accountable for the long-term recovery of their members.
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
This therapy is patient-focused and semi-directional since the therapist will encourage the patient to gain willpower and motivation to fight against alcoholism. It is known that people suffering from addiction feel powerless, and so this method aims to counter that.
There are four principles incorporated into this process:
- Showing empathy to the patient
- Roll with the resistance
- Developing self-efficacy
- Identifying similarities and differences in the patient’s behavior
This is also known as “talking therapy” where the patient talks to a psychologist regarding one’s addiction. Using psychoanalysis, there will be a mental diagnosis of the patient, and the main goal is to help the patient avoid cravings while staying motivated to recover.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DLT)
This therapy aims to help the patient balance one’s emotions while developing a positive mindset. Everything in life is connected, so the therapist finds a way to connect the patient’s alcoholism to his or her current situation.
After that, the therapist will apply the four principles of DLT:
- Mental awareness
- Tolerance to stress
- Effective communication to others
- Regulating emotion
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
The main goal of CBT is to identify those negative thoughts and triggers that make the person drink. Afterward, the therapist helps the patient create a positive thought to replace those triggers. Overall, this therapy is solution-focused rather than merely diagnosing a sickness.
Art and Music
Relieving client stress is one effective method to discourage them from drinking alcohol. An effective way to do that is to let the patient engage in the art, or in listening to relaxing music. That way, stress is relieved to more positive activity, rather than drinking.
When Do You Start Your Treatment
The best time to start your couple’s treatment on alcoholism is today. This is to avoid letting the side effects worsen through time, and it can definitely ruin intimate relationships and marriage.
Find a reliable therapist or alcohol rehab treatment center to consult your concern. These professionals have extensive education and experience in helping patients recover from substance use disorder.