Why the Spouse of a Person in Addiction Recovery Needs Therapy Too


For best results, alcohol rehab should provide therapy not only for the person who is chemically dependent but for the immediate family as well. Without psychological counseling individually and in family therapy, the spouse of an alcoholic may not be able to provide the emotional support the spouse needs to stay on the recovery path.

Guilt and Other Negative Feelings

After many years of dealing with this situation, the spouse of the person in recovery is likely to feel bitter, resentful and unforgiving. In addition to those emotions, the spouse may start feeling guilty about the inability to start over anew in this marriage. This husband or wife may have considered leaving in the past but instead stayed for a variety of reasons. Now, when the addicted individual is ready to make amends and a fresh beginning, the spouse cannot seem to move beyond the past. Counseling can be a significant help.

The Problem of Codependency

Codependency is a mix of behaviors that are intended to convince the addict to stop using while also trying to hide the problem from other people. This often leads to a contradictory issue in which a spouse and the rest of the family enables the addict by pretending the negative behavior is due to something other than alcohol use. Counseling may be a crucial part of overcoming the emotional fallout from years of this pattern.

Considering the Children

If children are involved, they can benefit from participating in individual and family therapy too. Kids growing up in families characterized by addiction and codependency commonly have very distorted views of what a healthy marriage should be like. They may find it difficult to be emotionally close to a partner and may continually test that person to verify the level of commitment. They also are more likely to develop addictions of their own if they have not worked through the problems of their childhood.

As everyone gets on the same page, the entire family is essentially in recovery. Improvements in all relationships can be remarkable as they learn to communicate more honestly and forgive each other for past behavior.

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