Couples Rehab – It’s Not Always Who You Expect...
There’s a certain stereotype about what kind of people end up in couples drug and alcohol rehab. Some may imagine a crack house, with a young guy and a girl laying there spun out amongst filth and a slew of other addicts. Others may see images from a movie of a married couple who lost a child, and in the midst of their depression, turned to alcohol to numb the pain. Not as many people picture the local, white collar, prominent, happy husband and wife who live in the well-known upscale neighborhood. But addiction doesn’t believe in stereotypes. It certainly doesn’t like to discriminate.
HE - was a young, savvy businessman who was stellar at sales, a real go-getter, and a little money-hungry, had paid his dues, climbed the ladder, impressed the right people, and the future was bright. How many clichés can we throw in there? The point is, from all appearances, he epitomized the word “successful”. He was someone to be envied because he was “livin’ the dream”.
SHE - was a hard worker, successful in her own right, helped him get to where he was by being his greatest supporter, his safety net when he needed it, and maintained the beautiful home to return to when he took a break from conquering the world. They were quite a team.
As the bank account grew, list of accomplishments got checked off, and more social and business events filled the calendar, things began to change. There’s a whole different type of stress that evolves for those who have reached a certain point in their lives – when they have accomplished those major goals, and earned certain notoriety, but status really matters and more is never enough.
When they took that leap somewhere along the way into a whole new life-style it exposed them to new temptations, and gave them access to a new exciting crowd. Suddenly, something you try at a party for the privileged is more enticing than imagined. The social drinking turns into something more. When you’re high on cocaine, you think you’re the life of the party, and you find that it also proves useful on those long, hard days when you need to be alert and energetic.
HE became busier and busier, and “checked out” at home. SHE tried to get him to slow down for a while, but it didn’t work. So she stopped nagging, retreated to her own social circle, and poured another glass of wine – really good, expensive wine. His drug use had quickly turned into a habit, and his tolerance increased. He needed more to get the same high, to keep up his energy, and stay “productive”. It was harder not to use because coming down meant feeling extremely low, even depressed.
Eventually, as his marriage eroded; so did friendships and business partnerships. He was losing what he’d worked so hard for. Deals fell through; he lost money, kept spending money, and started suffering health problems. He was lucky he didn’t get caught up in criminal charges like others he associated with. But he finally realized he was on his way to hit bottom. He didn’t really want to admit it was as big of a problem as it was, but when his wife and a few close friends insisted, he entered a drug rehab program. Once he cleaned up, got counseling, and was able to think clearly again, he thought he had it all figured out. He knew what to do to get back to normal and regain the success that had started to slip away. His therapist recommended that he follow a 12 Step Program and continue counseling. But he didn’t think it was necessary and felt like it would take time away from rebuilding his business.
He knew he couldn’t go back to the drugs again. It wasn’t easy, but he did make some changes. There was hope for his marriage, and for a while, life was better. He was managing business, and he felt good about it. But she was still drinking her wine, and so he decided to join her. It was a way the two of them could spend time together, and circulate without having him slip back into cocaine abuse. The problem is that once you are dependent on or addicted to a chemical substance, one which you used in order to cope with the world around you, replacing it with a different chemical substance (in this case, alcohol) which you deem safer, will not work.
Instead, the drinking increased and similar problems reemerged. He was losing control again, and this time he blamed her. She should have known from those few couples therapy meetings that an addict is more likely to relapse if he is living in an environment where he has daily access to drugs or ALCOHOL. She didn’t think that it would be an issue because she always managed her drinking just fine, and didn’t want to quit since he was the one with a drug problem. Tension increased immensely and their marriage was in jeopardy. They were no longer able to support each other emotionally and resented one another. They were both about ready to call it quits when a close, long-time family friend urged them to seek rehab for couples. When they had a moment of clarity, they agreed that they needed help.
They decided to find a facility that offered couples rehab because they wanted to stay together and go through treatment at the same time. They figured that the only way of salvaging their marriage was to follow the same program. They knew that in order for the two of them to succeed in recovery, they needed to find a place where they could leave all the external pressures behind and focus on themselves and each other. Happily, that was 6 years ago, and they are still together. They learned how to slow down, simplify their life somewhat, and support each other in their sobriety.