Have things begun to seem hopeless as you watch your spouse continue on their downward spiral of addiction? Does it feel like you’ve tried everything you could think of to help your partner achieve recovery, but nothing is working? I’m here to tell you that you are not alone; there are interventions for your partner that can help him or her maintain a life in recovery.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.5 million people aged 12 or older needed treatment for illicit drug or alcohol abuse problems in 2009. Unfortunately, many of these people were unable to receive help for various reasons, including not having information about which strategies work to support recovery.
The impact of not having resources to address drug and/or alcohol problems not only affects the individual with a substance use problem but also the partner who is seeing their loved one suffer. Communication problems, trust issues and maladaptive family dynamics are just a few of the complications that can arise.
As more research and funding has been spent on understanding addiction, employees in the field of substance abuse treatment are gaining more knowledge of which techniques are effective. Due to substance abuse and addiction’s impact on various aspects of life, such as mental and physical health and function in home, work and community environments, the best interventions for your partner incorporate various pharmacological and psychotherapeutic practices.
Pharmacological Interventions for Your Partner
Pharmacological interventions can be invaluable, but they work best when they are combined with psychotherapy—individual, group and family therapy.
Methadone is used for the treatment of opioid addiction. This medication helps to prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. While there is some controversy about methadone maintenance—some say you’re trading one addiction for another—under the supervision of a licensed physician at a certified opioid treatment program, methadone maintenance has been found successful in the treatment of opioid addiction.
Buprenorphine is a medication that works to manage withdrawal symptoms, and it has a low risk of overdose. Buprenorphine is taken alone or can be prescribed as Suboxone, which combines buprenorphine and naltrexone. Buprenorphine is a cost-effective and beneficial treatment.
With no potential for abuse, naltrexone has been used for years by thousands of patients. Vivitrol, the long-acting injectable version of naltrexone, has the benefit of only needing to be taken once a month.
Individual therapy has been found to be beneficial to address underlying emotional or mental health problems usually associated with substance abuse. Cognitive behavioral therapy is an intervention used to address maladaptive behavioral patterns and change negative thinking. Relaxation strategies and the development of coping skills to manage stress or anxiety are also interventions for your partner that are associated with CBT. Motivational Interviewing is another therapy method that has become popular recently, as it uses a client’s existing motivation for sustained recovery as its own tool to strengthen a person’s recovery.
Family therapy is not only used to discuss a client’s problem with substance abuse but also to help the client and their loved ones understand family dynamics. Communication skills, boundaries and conflict resolution are common issues that are addressed during family therapy.
The purpose of group therapy is to provide clients with the skills needed to maintain recovery. These skills include goal setting, addiction education, understanding emotions and developing tools to cope with cravings and understand triggers. Group therapy gives clients the chance to talk about their addiction with peers who have shared similar experiences. Group therapy assists client with building a support system of individuals who are working toward similar goals.
12-step meetings and support groups such as AA, NA and SMART Recovery are additional interventions for your partner that have been used for years by countless people who have struggled with addiction.