Why Couples should Go to Sober Living Together
Recovery from alcohol or drug addiction can be a challenging task for the entire family, not just the addict. It could break the person and all their relationships, including the closest ones. If you or someone in your family or friend circle is seeking recovery, you could help them in their journey towards sobriety by participating in the process.
A lot of couples are now embracing recovery together. There is an increased awareness that drug and/or alcohol addiction has one of the most devastating effects on a relationship. Irrespective of whether one partner is addicted or both partners are addicts, the emotional damage is very high. But when both partners are struggling with a substance problem, recovery is slightly more challenging. It is common for both partners to feel very content and happy with the recovery process one day, and the next day, they might hit their lowest low. Of course, this hardly ensures the continuity of a healthy relationship.
Most addicts find it easier to blame the other (the partner) for all kinds of addiction-related problems faced by them. Each addict is dealing with their personal struggle and can easily overlook the fact that their partner may also need support for recovery.
Quitting together: Going to rehab
It might not be easy for a couple with an addiction problem to find a rehab/treatment center willing to enroll them simultaneously. But there are rehab facilities such as Stepping Sober that encourage couples sober living. These rehab centers allow willing couples to embrace recovery together.
When a couple is enrolled in the same rehab, each partner is given both independent assistance and joint support. Couples sober living is all about identifying the root cause of both partners’ addictions. It is also aimed at teaching them different ways in which they can manage various life challenges while developing healthy coping skills.
Typically, a couple’s rehab program begins with both partners being separated. Each one undergoes a personal detox treatment, if required. When counseling begins, the individual counselor develops a suitable recovery plan that is aimed at first addressing the personal issues of the patient, moving on to the relationship problems.
Couples sober living is slowly becoming a common plan of action as far as treatment for addiction is concerned. Rehabs admitting couples are focused on teaching both partners different tools and techniques that could help in their personal recovery and also support their partner’s de-addiction journey. Both partners gradually learn how to spend quality time in each other’s company without the need to ‘use’.
Benefits of couples sober living in recovery
Here are some of the most damaging behaviors of addict couples that could be reversed with joint recovery:
- Criticism: Blaming each other excessively, almost like a personal attack
- Contempt: Talking to each other in a condescending tone, giving no validation to their feelings and experiences.
- Defensiveness: Ignoring responsibility for the damaging effect of one’s behavior- shifting blame, making excuses, using sarcasm, sneering, rolling of eyes, and so on.
- Stonewalling: A complete withdrawal and shutdown for the avoidance of conflict- being silent, changing the topic, and isolating.
How to Deal with the Early Stages of Recovery
Sober living is far from easy. And the early stages of recovery from alcohol abuse can be particularly challenging and often described as a ‘rollercoaster ride’. This is mainly because most people tend to experience extreme highs and lows during this phase. The early recovery period is when you feel that you are suddenly confronted with a lot of changes and your emotions are likely to overwhelm you at some point or the other.
What does early recovery look like?
The initial stages of sober living usually involve bidding farewell to friends and acquaintances who continue to use drugs and/or alcohol. You may slowly need to make new friends and move in a different circle altogether. The life of an addict is usually revolving around drugs and/or alcohol. So, when they decide to get sober, there is a big void that needs to be filled with some new activities. Since multiple changes are taking place simultaneously, a recovering addict is likely to feel overwhelmed and emotional in the early stages of sobriety.
Although there is no actual definition of ‘early recovery’, it typically includes the first 3 months of sobriety. This early recovery stage may extend to up to one year.
It is important to know that the early stage of recovery is actually an opportunity for an addict to make a fresh start. You are probably sober for the very first time for such a long period in your life. The process of recovery undoubtedly involves a lot of commitment and work and you might feel that everything in your surrounding environment suddenly feels very real.
Tips for success in early recovery
Here are some simple, yet effective tips that could help you through the early stages of sobriety:
- Include some play in your daily routine: While staying sober can be quite exhausting, you can lighten up your days by taking out some time to engage in various fun activities. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate task and you don’t have to do it for hours together. Something as simple as picking up your favorite book and settling in a comfortable couch to read a few chapters is an excellent start. If you like the outdoors, plug in some music into your ears and go for a short walk or cycle your way around for a while. These are all healthy ways of embracing recovery in the early stages.
- Attend a recovery program: An excellent way to receive support and help during the early phase of recovery is to attend AA/NA (Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous) meetings organized by recovery groups. This is an opportunity for you to spend some time listening to other people’s stories and share your own challenges. You’ll likely find them to be quite similar in nature. You may also get some practical advice to help you in your early days of sobriety.
- Meet a therapist regularly: Meeting an addiction counselor or therapist can help you to open up and talk about your problems. You will slowly discover that you have the strength to deal with all kinds of emotions using new, healthier tools and techniques.
Couples can help each other or one another during the initial stages of recovery to a great extent. It makes a difference when there is someone you care about holding your hands on your journey towards sober living.