Addiction Recovery and Spousal Support

March 21, 2008


Relationships with family and friends play an important role in an individual’s path to addiction recovery. Receiving support from loved ones is one indicator of whether the addict will be able to maintain long-term success. Many rehab facilities realize this and offer family counseling sessions to work through issues while the individual is in an addiction treatment program.

Spouses are, of course, one of the most important people in an individual’s life. A study which was published in Behavior Therapy has directly linked the likelihood of relapse in men to how critical the addict felt his wife was of him. It was discovered that, among the 106 men in the study who were in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, the ones who felt that their wives criticized them a lot were more likely to have relapsed. It didn’t matter how severe their drug addiction had been.

The study analyzed how criticized the men felt, not how much they were actually criticized. A little under a third felt that their wife was very critical, 2 percent felt no criticism, and the rest reported moderate criticism.

The researcher, William Fals-Stewart, said that people who get couples treatment are more successful in addiction recovery in a number of ways. He stated that they are associated with “less drug use, fewer arrests, [and] greater likelihood to remain abstinent from drugs.”

Providing emotional support to a spouse who is in addiction treatment can be very difficult. The drug and alcohol abuse has typically damaged the relationship on some level and created other problems in the couple’s life. This is why counseling for the addict’s spouse and other close family members is so important during rehabilitation. Without it, partners usually have a more difficult time knowing how to provide the support that will help the individual be successful in drug and alcohol addiction recovery.


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