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The Spouse in recovery of alcoholics

Last week on Friday was the day we were taking my friend from rehabilitation after 90 days. In my conversations with the other clients in the rehab, they intimated to me that in future, there should be incorporated conjugal visits.

They confirmed that within the first 2 weeks of treatment, their sexual function and desire was one of the signals that a change was taking place. They confirmed that prior to coming to rehab, they had almost completely lost their sexual desire. They felt this would also be a good starting point to reconnect with the person who has endured the most during their alcoholism.

“Spouses/partners should not be forced to suffer any more than they already do, and the rehab should not “deprive” them of something that is an infrequent but important part of their relationship”. Said their “Governor”!

“Spouses/partners should not be forced to suffer any more than they already do, and the rehab should not “deprive” them of something that is an infrequent but important part of their relationship”. Said their “Governor”!

There are costs associated with the staff’s time, having to escort clients to and from the visitation facility, supervising personal hygiene and keeping up with the infrastructure of the facility.

While the focus of addiction treatment will tend to be on the addicts themselves, it is often the case that their spouse can be in need of help too. This is because the coping strategies they have developed to deal with the situation can be maladaptive. In some instances, the spouse will have developed mental and physical problems as a result of the abuse. Chronic stress is harmful if it is not dealt with appropriately. The spouse of the alcoholic may feel that they are to blame for the situation and almost instinctively make excuses for their partner’s poor behavior.

Some spouses will adapt to the abnormal situation by becoming co-dependent. They unconsciously become so impacted by their spouse’s behavior that they make it part of their own sense of self. The needs of the other person take over. The co-dependent partner becomes almost addicted to the chaos, and this means that they can start to be part of the problem. The partner who becomes co-dependent will suffer from low self esteem and be willing to follow the often tyrannical rule of the addict. They may even deny that there is an alcohol problem, and by doing so further enable the alcoholic.

Addiction is a disease that can have a devastating impact on those closest to the addict/alcoholic. That’s why the best drug rehab programs involve family members in their loved one’s treatment. Through educational workshops, family therapy sessions and family visits, partners learn new skills right alongside their loved one and practice those skills before their spouse returns home. Drug rehab programs often recommend resources in the local community as well, including therapy and Al-Anon meetings

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