The Role You Play When Your Alcoholic Spouse Is in Residential Treatment: A Guide for Spouses and Partners

Dealing with and supporting an alcoholic spouse can have many different challenges. To help your spouse have the best chances for lasting recovery, residential treatment is the best option. During their stay in a residential treatment facility, you must both commit to treatment. This may mean that you are not involved for a period of time, or that you actively participate in family therapy sessions; listen to the professionals and follow their guidance.

Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol and can range from mild to severe. Also known as alcohol use disorder, someone who has this disease may be unable to control drinking, have developed a tolerance, experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, or experience negative consequences when drinking but continue to drink anyway.

There is no cure for this chronic disease.

Fortunately receiving great care in a residential facility can help someone have a better chance at maintaining a healthier, happier, sober life.

Once your spouse is a patient at a residential treatment facility you may feel unsure of your role in the treatment process. The best thing to do is follow the guidance of your partner’s treatment team. They will be able to provide you and your spouse the proper guidelines best suited for their recovery, as well as the therapies and family involvement throughout the treatment process.

Jim was a great husband and a great father. Our kids were older, our youngest in college. We had more times to ourselves and I started to notice the amount and frequency of Jim’s drinking. I guess I just never noticed it before, but he was drinking quite a lot. We were going through copious amounts of liquor. I always thought he just wanted a stocked bar for parties but it turns out Jim was drinking most of that alcohol. It took some serious convincing but I was able to get Jim to see someone for a diagnosis. It turns out Jim had been depressed and turned to drinking alcohol as a way to self-medicate. I felt horrible. I had been so wrapped up in our children’s lives that I didn’t see my husbands depression.

We were told that this scenario is common and the best way to treat Jim was to treat both his depression and alcoholism. We found the most effective treatment was going to be at a residential treatment facility.

Why Choose Residential Treatment for Alcohol Addiction?

Supporting your spouse and offering care can be an invaluable source of help for them but you alone cannot help them recover from their addiction. To achieve lasting recovery from alcohol addiction professional help is necessary.

A successful treatment program for someone with an addiction will provide an individualized plan customized to their unique needs. In residential treatment your spouse will receive a complete diagnosis, including any co-occurring conditions.

During their stay in residential treatment they will be able to focus entirely on recovery with no distractions from everyday life. Residential treatment has many benefits in treating alcohol addiction such as:

  • Access to detox services customized treatment plan
  • Care and support 24 hours a day
  • A safe, substance-free environment
  • A variety of therapies including individual, group, and family
  • Time away from work and other
  • Support from a community of peers
  • Addressing any co-occurring mental health disorders or substance use disorders
  • A safe and secure environment designed for recovery
  • Education and training for families on how to support their loved ones
  • Access to holistic care, including nutrition, exercise, stress relief, and other levels of care
  • Support and planning for care after active treatment has stopped

Receiving the best care possible is what will help your spouse overcome their addiction and live a happier, healthier life.

The best thing you can do is to help them find a residential treatment center. Once they are a patient at a residential treatment center you can participate in the family programming. You won’t see your spouse every day but you can receive updates so you understand what is going on.

  • Share your story. You will hold an incredible amount of insight into your spouse’s addiction so you are encouraged to be open, honest, and share your stories as that insight can be of great value when designing a treatment plan. Family programming is not limited to you as the spouse. Even if family or friends are far away, there are ways to include them in this process.
  • Build a strong support system. Once active treatment has ended, your spouse will have the skills and tools needed to prevent relapse, but a strong support system will be the reinforcing factor to help them stay happy and sober. You alone cannot be the support system—find family and friends who are also committed to helping your spouse stay in recovery.
  • Participate in family therapy. Your spouse’s therapist may want you and other family members to participate in family therapy sessions. These sessions are designed to help you all heal, grow, and move past how the alcohol addiction affected everyone in your family—not just your spouse. Participating in these sessions is as beneficial for you as it is for your partner.

Begin Your Recovery Journey Today


Both Commit to Treatment

Each individual going through treatment will have a different path, so stay in communication with the professionals in charge of your spouse’s treatment plan. They may suggest you stay away for a period of time to let your spouse focus solely on recovery or they may suggest you participate in family or couple therapy sessions—if so, do that. Just like your spouse has to commit to their treatment plan you must commit to the guidance of the professionals.

You can also spend time learning more about alcohol addiction. Many residential treatment centers will offer family psychoeducation programs for loved ones. These programs help loved ones understand what their spouse is experiencing and learn the best ways to support them when they return home.

Practice Self Care

There is a likelihood that it took some time to get to your spouse to residential treatment. The stress and work you had to put in to help your spouse have likely affected your own health. Going through treatment and adjusting to life after treatment will not be easy. You can prepare for those times by making sure you are taking care of yourself. This may include:

  • Therapy sessions
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Practicing health exercise and nutrition habits
  • Finding a support group for spouses of alcoholics
  • Building a support system for yourself

Once Jim was in treatment I first felt I should be involved in everything It took me a while to understand that not being around at first was what was best for Jim’s treatment plan. Family programming was an invaluable piece of the plan for our success as a couple. While my husband was receiving treatment for his depression and alcoholism, I was learning and understanding how depression and alcoholism can affect people. I also learned ways to help Jim stay sober after he left the residential facility. During this time I also found my own support groups. Hearing stories of other couples who had successfully gone through all of it was the hope I needed. I also began doing a daily yoga class; it helped calm me and worry less about Jim. I didn’t realize that Jim’s treatment would also include my own.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.