Can two addicts have a successful marriage and relationship? That’s the million-dollar question. Couples that both have substance abuse disorders are four to seven times more likely to end in separation. It is possible to have a successful marriage, but it’s also very difficult and statistically unlikely. Addiction destroys many if not all of one’s relationships if it is not treated. That’s why if you put two people together that are abusing drugs or alcohol it is statistically unlikely to work. This doesn’t mean that it is not possible, but it takes a lot of work and treatment.
Getting Sober Together
First off, each person has to want to get sober for themselves. They have to want to work hard individually and then together to have a successful marriage or relationship. There are treatment centers out there that do offer couple’s programs for addicts in a relationship. Recovery is a deeply personal and individual process. Most professionals will recommend that during detox and recovery, each person should focus on themselves and their well-being. In this process, the individual will relearn who they are as a person without substances influencing them. Both individuals will go through a lot of changes. It is rare for two addicts to come back together after healing apart.
Can Recovering Addicts Get Married?
Some realize that there has been too much damage done to repair and recover the relationship. The number one priority here is focusing on yourself first and doing everything possible to maintain your sobriety individually. Then, if the two love each other and want to make this work, they can come back together and focus on their relationship. According to the National Institute of Health:
Behavioral couples therapy (BCT), a treatment approach for married or cohabiting drug abusers and their partners, attempts to reduce substance abuse directly and through restructuring the dysfunctional couple interactions that frequently help sustain it. In multiple studies with diverse populations, patients who engage in BCT have consistently reported greater reductions in substance use than have patients who receive only individual counseling. Couples receiving BCT also have reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction and more improvements in other areas of relationship and family functioning, including intimate partner violence and children’s psychosocial adjustment. (NIH)
How Does Addiction Affect Relationships?
Addiction can destroy a relationship when you’ve got one sober person and one that struggles with addiction. Addicts often display similar behavioral problems. Codependency is one of the most common problems. Codependency is a dysfunctional dynamic where the addicted person is enabled by the other person that’s involved. There is a “caretaker” who will often devote their entire life trying to take care of and enable the person with the addiction, while not helping them recover or allowing them to get sober. Addiction changes a person completely, how they act towards others, function, and live their life. There are many specific behavioral traits that often nearly destroy relationships. These traits drive away people that they love.
- Lying – Addicts are a lot of times very dishonest people, especially in the heat of their addictions. For instance, they may say they are sober, but they are sneaking around and continuing to use.
- Manipulation – Blaming and guilting the other person for their actions and habits, or accusing their loved ones of false things.
- Violence – Addicts or more likely to be physically and emotionally abusive to their partners or others.
These are common behavioral traits of an addict. Now put two people together with these same traits, and you’ve got double the unhealthy coping habits, manipulation, and violence. When an addict is in love with another addict, a lot of times they will encourage and perpetuate each other’s addictions. There are often negative responses and behaviors that can tear the relationship apart.
- Criticism – Blaming the other where they feel attacked. Saying “You always” or “You Never”
- Defensiveness – Not taking responsibility for one’s actions. Shifting the blame or making excuses.
- Contempt – Attacking your partner or invalidating their feelings. Calling them names, being sarcastic, or eye-rolling.
- Stonewalling – Withdrawing or shutting down. Silent behavior, distancing or changing the subject.
Two addicted individuals can have a successful relationship, but it will take a lot of hard work and both have to want to get sober.
Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based addiction treatment. Our solution-focused addiction treatment will lead you on a road to long-lasting recovery. You don’t have to suffer any longer, call us today.