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Way out of addiction in couple's therapy

 

Addiction and couples’ therapy were two things Jack and Jill* never thought they’d be involved in. But here they sat in my office trying to figure it all out.

Jack had been addicted to alcohol and cocaine for the past 5-7 years. Partying when they were younger had always seemed so much fun! They loved to pull all nighters with their friends. As the years went on though, Jill stopped participating. She was busy building her career. They had started a family. Jack was busy building a career too and the drinking and drugs helped him deal with stress, or so he thought.

 

Who knows when they started fighting about it. Jill thinks it was when they were pregnant with their first child. All Jack remembers is that suddenly Jill wasn’t fun anymore and had become a real nag.

 

Jack and Hill came to my office for a weekend couple’s retreat. Jill described the disappointment of feeling she couldn’t count on Jack, the anger about him repeatedly breaking promises, the embarrassment when Jack’s drinking and partying went too far in front of friends or family, the impact of his drinking on them such as his DUI and getting fired, and the kid’s fear and confusion when their dad was drunk or high.

 

As the weekend continued and Jack felt safe, he admitted he did have a problem with alcohol and cocaine. He talked about his attempts to cut down and stop. With further introduction to tools to talk, he agreed to go to rehab.

 

Possible benefits of discussing addiction in couple’s counselling or a couple’s retreat:

 

·      Both parties have a chance to talk about the ‘elephant in the living room’ as communication tools are introduced

·      You can talk about the impact of addiction on each of you individually, as a couple, and as a family

·      You can agree on a plan of action such as:

·      Abstinence

·      An addiction treatment program

·      A 12-step program such as AA, NA, GA, Al-anon, or Alateen

·      Cognitive based support such as Smart Recovery

·      Individual, group, or family counselling

·      You can discuss the consequences of continuing to use alcohol, drugs, or gambling.

 

Jack kept his promise and went into a month-long treatment program. Upon his return, he began attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and went for counselling with an addictions counsellor. Jill started going to Al-anon and to see her own counsellor. Both knew there was a long road ahead but felt hopeful about the steps they had taken. And both remembered to take it one day at a time.

 

*Jack and Jill names and details of their lives have been changed to protect their anonymity.

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