Recovering Alcoholics in Relationships

What to Know About Recovering Alcoholics in Relationships

Recovering alcoholics in relationships faces unique challenges.

This is true because your relationships and home life have a major impact on your state of well-being.

Solid relationships may help make your recovery easier.

However, dysfunctional ones have the potential to send your recovery spinning far off-track.

In a worst-case scenario, you may find yourself undoing all your hard work and returning to your old drinking ways.

No one wants to go through this kind of painful setback.

The good news is that recovering alcoholics in relationships can get help.

For some people, that help might come in the form of couples therapy.

If you have children or other loved ones, family therapy may also play an essential role in your recovery.

These options can be used separately or together to help improve your home life and support your sobriety.

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The Impact of Alcoholism on Current Relationships

Alcoholism and serious alcohol abuse are both part of an illness called alcohol use disorder, or AUD. Both of these interconnected issues can do major damage to your intimate and family relationships. For example, alcoholism can lead you to:

  • Make drinking your top personal priority, not your relationships
  • Stop taking part in other activities that you or your partner once enjoyed

Serious, non-addicted alcohol abuse can lead you to:

  • Neglect key responsibilities that your family depends on you for
  • Keep drinking even when you know that your relationships are suffering as a result
  • Use alcohol in dangerous situations that put you or your family at-risk

You can experience any combination of these problems. Why? Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are often overlapping conditions. This means that you can suffer from both of them at the very same time.

What types of problems occur in the relationships and families of alcoholics? Specific issues vary from person to person. However, some of the most common problems include:

  • Loss of communication between partners or family members
  • A decline of caring or loving interactions in your relationship or family unit
  • A rise in negative interactions
  • An inconsistent or chaotic day-to-day environment
  • Outbursts of anger, aggression, or even outright violence

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The Impact of a Stressful Relationship on Your Alcoholism Risks

The link between relationship problems and alcoholism runs in both directions. What does this mean? Not only does alcoholism increase your risks for a disrupted personal life. Pre-existing disruptions in your personal life can increase your risks for developing alcoholism. Specific reasons for this include:

  • Turning to alcohol as a stress reliever for relationship conflict
  • Drinking to cope with depression, anxiety, or other negative feelings

 

Therapy Options for Recovering Alcoholics in Relationships

Couples Therapy or Counseling

While in treatment, recovering alcoholics in relationships may receive help in the form of Behavioral Couples Therapy, or BCT. You may also receive similar forms of couples counseling. Couples therapy and counseling are often given to you and your partner at the same time. However, you may also speak with your therapist or counselor on your own.

How does BCT or couples counseling work? Key goals include helping you:

  • Learn how to problem solve within your relationship
  • Improve your ability to communicate with your partner
  • Decrease negative behaviors and increase caring behaviors
  • Enhance the general quality of your relationship

As a rule, BCT and couples counseling are for people in committed relationships. Many participants are married. In contrast, others are not. Couples therapy and counseling work alongside other aspects of your alcohol treatment. Important benefits for your relationship and alcohol recovery include:

  • Reinforcing your dedication to achieving and maintaining sobriety
  • Helping you avoid alcohol-related harm
  • Improving the overall quality of your relationship
  • Decreasing your chances of divorcing or separating if you are married

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Family Therapy or Counseling

While in treatment, recovering alcoholics in relationships may also receive family therapy or counseling. One well-regarded option here is Family Behavior Therapy, or FBT. This therapy focuses on two main areas. The first of these areas is the impact of alcoholism on your and your family unit. The second is the impact of other related issues on you and your family. Examples of these issues include:

  • Various kinds of family conflict not related to your drinking
  • Other mental health issues
  • Unemployment and other economic issues

The aim of FBT is to get your and your family members to change harmful behaviors. Those behaviors may stem from your drinking. They may also be things that make you more likely to abuse alcohol. Each person involved in the therapy helps decide on specific behavior goals. The unit as a whole also has its own goals. Periodically, you and your therapist review the progress of FBT. Goals that are met are rewarded by you or other family members.

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Continuing Care for Recovering Alcoholics in Relationships

Relationship concerns do not disappear automatically when you finish alcohol treatment. The same holds true for your risks for relapse. For these reasons, it is crucial to maintain your access to professional help after rehab. How do you do this? By enrolling in a long-term rehab or aftercare program.

Continuing care often takes place in a treatment facility. As a rule, it takes less of a time commitment than your original treatment. However, it still provides you with the things you need in your quest for sobriety and stable relationships. Continuing care is so important that it is now a standard recommendation. That is not just true for recovering alcoholics in relationships. It is true for everyone recovering from a serious substance problem.

Dating for Recovering Alcoholics

If you are not already in a relationship, should you start one while in alcohol recovery? In early recovery, this is generally considered to be a risky idea. You are in a vulnerable place while in alcohol treatment, and that vulnerability may continue for quite some time.

Even in the best of circumstances, relationships can be trying. Attempting to start one while recovering from alcoholism may just be too much for you. This is especially true before you establish a lasting pattern of alcohol abstinence. Some treatment programs make you commit to staying out of relationships throughout your enrollment.

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Learn More About Recovering Alcoholics in Relationships

Questions about recovering alcoholics and relationships are common. That is because so many relationships in the U.S. are negatively impacted by problem drinking. If you have major relationship problems, addressing them may be essential for your lasting recovery. Why? When left unaddressed, these kinds of problems can destabilize your daily routine. In turn, an unstable routine and home life may leave you at higher risk for a relapse.

If this kind of unwanted scenario sounds familiar to you, you have something in common with others all across the country. But you are not fated to live with relationship problems for the rest of your days. Couples and family therapy will help you turn things around. These therapies are often used as part of alcohol treatment. You can also continue them once you complete your primary rehab program. With their help, you will develop the skills needed to resolve your issues and support your sobriety.

For more information on recovering alcoholics and relationships, contact Pathfinders today. Our specialists will help you understand exactly how relationships and family issues affect you. And if you need treatment for alcoholism, our in-house therapy and counseling will support you every step of the way.

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