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Couples Therapy for Addiction

Couples therapy for addiction is a specialized form of therapy that focuses on helping couples navigate the challenges and impacts of addiction within their relationship. Alcohol and substance abuse and addiction can significantly strain a partnership, leading to communication breakdowns, trust issues, and emotional turmoil. Couples therapy for addiction aims to address these issues and provide support for both partners as they work towards recovery and healing. The goal is to help partners work together in a collaborative way to build support for abstinence and to improve relationship functioning.

Studies report that there is a range of effective psychological interventions including but not limited to behavioral couples therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, interventions, Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step treatment programs. The advantage of having this range of strategies is that Dr. Susan Pazak can choose from a wide selection to pick the ones best suited to an individual patient’s and couple’s needs, contexts and preferences.

Studies also confirm that couples therapy for substance use disorder treatments is important to drive behavior and leads to an increased reduction in substance use and substance use problems.

Some key points to consider when it comes to couples therapy for addiction:

  • Collaborative Approach: This therapy involves both partners working together with a trained therapist. The therapist facilitates open communication, helps each partner express their feelings, and fosters understanding between them.
  • Dual Focus: The therapy addresses both the addiction itself and the relational dynamics affected by it. It recognizes that the addiction affects not only the individual but also their partner and the relationship as a whole, as well as the family.
  • Communication Skills: Communication breakdowns are common in relationships affected by addiction. Therapy focuses on teaching healthy communication skills, active listening, and expressing emotions in a constructive manner.
  • Rebuilding Trust: Addiction often erodes trust between partners. Therapy helps in rebuilding trust through open discussions, setting boundaries, and consistent behavior that demonstrates commitment to recovery.
  • Codependency: Codependency can develop when one partner’s actions revolve around supporting the addicted partner’s behavior. Couples therapy helps address codependent patterns and encourages healthier ways of supporting each other.
  • Shared Goals: Couples therapy helps partners establish common goals related to recovery and the relationship. These goals may include sobriety, improved communication, rebuilding intimacy, and creating a healthier and more fulfilling partnership.
  • Individual and Joint Support: In addition to couples therapy, each partner might benefit from individual therapy and support groups. Individual therapy addresses personal issues related to the addiction, while support groups provide additional encouragement and understanding.
  • Relapse Prevention: The therapy equips couples with strategies to prevent relapse and handle triggers that might lead to substance use. This includes identifying potential risk factors and developing coping mechanisms.
  • Long-Term Healing: Couples therapy for addiction aims for long-term healing and growth. It encourages partners to continue working on their relationship even after the addiction has been addressed, fostering ongoing communication and emotional connection.

Schedule a couples therapy session

It’s essential to work with a therapist like Dr. Susan Pazak who specializes in addiction and couples therapy. She has the expertise to navigate the unique challenges that arise in such situations. Dr. Pazak will work diligently to develop rapport with both parties, so they feel comfortable with her which is essential to successful couples therapy for addiction.

Successful couples therapy for addiction requires commitment and effort from both partners. It can be a powerful tool for repairing and strengthening the relationship while supporting each partner’s journey to recovery. Schedule an in-person therapy session at Dr. Pazak’s Laguna Niguel office in Orange County or schedule a virtual therapy session.


  • Nadkarni A, Massazza A, Guda R, Fernandes LT, Garg A, Jolly M, Andersen LS, Bhatia U, Bogdanov S, Roberts B, Tol WA, Velleman R, Moore Q, Fuhr D. Common strategies in empirically supported psychological interventions for alcohol use disorders: A meta-review. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2023 Jan;42(1):94-104. doi: 10.1111/dar.13550. Epub 2022 Sep 22. PMID: 36134481; PMCID: PMC10087716.
  • Ariss T, Fairbairn CE. The effect of significant other involvement in treatment for substance use disorders: A meta-analysis. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2020 Jun;88(6):526-540. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000495. Epub 2020 Mar 12. PMID: 32162930; PMCID: PMC7228856.
At a Glance

Dr. Susan Pazak, MD

  • Bachelors, Masters and PhD in Clinical Psychology
  • Voted best psychologist in Laguna Niguel 3 years
  • Studied marital & sexual satisfaction in couples
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