Before the COVID-19 pandemic, people struggling with substance addiction and abuse could find help whenever they wish. They could go to therapy and support groups in clinics and treatment centers. They can find people who can make them feel safe and not judged, which greatly helps with the recovery process.
However, due to the pandemic and the resulting lockdown and social distancing measures put in place, it has become harder to provide help to couples in need of professional help. But drug treatment professionals are doing their best by opening online and phone counseling.
But that may not be enough as couples stay at home and have to deal with both substance abuse problems and each other. Let’s discuss what can be done by couples struggling with addiction to recover during the pandemic with limited resources.
How Are Couples with Substance Abuse Problems Coping During the Pandemic?
Having to stay indoors during lockdown, more couples are forced to spend time with each other at home. Many households aren’t used to being home 24/7, so some of them end up having familial conflicts due to being cooped up inside all the time.
This has seen lots of marital disputes pop up during this time. This is worsened by substance abuse, either with one or both members. Since addiction is usually seen as a disease of isolation, being forced to stay home can exacerbate the condition.
Couple dynamics with substance abuse involved tend to go one of two ways, either there’s abuse going on or one or both members enabling each other’s substance abuse. The best outcome is one member urging the other to seek treatment, which is eventually obliged. Unfortunately, this is not often the case.
Therefore, it’s important for other family members to be able to step in and intervene in order to get the couple, whether it’s one or both members, to treatment and rehabilitation. Having that close-knit support group is crucial as it helps make recovery more likely and more sustainable.
But a lot of couples don’t have that. They only have each other, and the substance abuse only gets worse because of it since they’re enabling each other’s addiction in one way or another. To break the cycle, someone has to intervene, whether it’s a partner, another family member, a friend, or so on. During COVID-19, that’s not as likely.
Cabin Fever and Domestic Abuse
Substance dependence and addiction can then result in heightened conflicts, especially in an enclosed and isolated environment. Abuse and enabling of addictions become more absolute in such an environment, where direct intervention and mediation are not immediately possible. Domestic abuse is common among couples with substance abuse problems.
Even if the problem is less than severe, the presence of family is a good thing to curtail the effects of cabin fever and general social isolation. Familial support is necessary to maintain the couple’s mental health as they still try to manage to deal with everyday life.
Dealing with the effects of prolonged social isolation, namely the condition colloquially known as cabin fever, can be incredibly difficult, especially if one or both individuals are naturally extroverted. It’s up to the couple to support each other in this dire time, helping to keep each other spirits up without depending on substances to create a momentary high or low.
How Are Treatment Centers Accommodating Couples During the Pandemic?
With shutdowns and social distancing measures put in place due to the pandemic, those avenues for recovery have been significantly restricted. Many treatment programs have since moved to online and phone appointments to adapt to the abrupt change in social conditions brought on by the pandemic.
However, there are many opinions going against the efficacy of online treatment as a viable alternative. Being able to physically go to meetings is seen as a necessity to bring patients to a social environment with people who are familiar with the situation they’re in. This is because addiction is seen as a disease of isolation, and social distancing doesn’t help that matter.
Treatment centers all around the country have been seeing a high volume of calls during the pandemic, both online and on the phone. This shows both the greater need for treatment centers and their commitment to helping people with substance abuse, including couples.
Treatment Programs for Couples
Drug treatment centers for couples have amenities that most other treatment centers focused on individual patients don’t. For instance, couples can stay in the same room to greatly ease the stress of social isolation, even letting them sleep together in the same room.
Such drug treatments may be more costly due to involving two people at a time, but there are ways to fund it through scholarships, sponsorships, grants, and insurance.
While travel restrictions are in place due to COVID-19, traveling for medical reasons is deemed necessary. Many treatment centers may have decreased capacity due to social distancing measures, they’re still open with under ten beds available.
Substance abuse treatment for couples includes couples therapy and marriage counseling to tackle relationship problems and behavioral issues between both members.
There’s also grief and trauma counseling, group therapy, family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and strength-based services to address different aspects of the couple’s ongoing relationship dynamics, turning them around towards a more positive outlook.
Mental health professionals and substance abuse treatment specialists are now adapting to the pandemic situation by working remotely through telehealth conferencing in order to continue helping patients however they can, despite the circumstances.
Couples with substance abuse problems can rely on help from professionals to keep them on track with their recovery together. Their goal is to assist both individuals in forming a new standard for their relationship to instill accountability and emotional support.
They focus on changing habits and behavioral patterns in order to make the couple’s relationship more supportive and harmonious. By helping them both understand each other better, the couple can become stronger together.