What will happen when my partner enters treatment?

In a general way, treatment for sex and intimacy issues, with or without paired substance use, relies on the same basic strategies that work with alcoholism, drug addiction, other behavioral addictions, and eating disorders. Early treatment efforts focus on containing your partner’s problematic behaviors. Safety is our primary concern. After that, we focus on: (1) breaking through your partner’s denial and dishonesty, (2) managing the crisis or crises that pushed him into treatment, and (3) preventing relapse.

Treatment includes both individual and group therapy – most often a directive, accountability and behavior focused modality like cognitive behavioral therapy. This work is paired with social learning, psychoeducation, 12-step and other forms addiction-focused social support, and alternative methodologies like psychodrama, art and movement therapies, exercise, meditation, and experiential therapies. Some clients may begin a trial-run of an antianxiety or antidepressant medication, as these can reduce not only anxiety and depression but cravings to re-engage with problem behaviors.

Will I be able to communicate with my loved one while he's in treatment?

Yes, of course you can. In fact, as part of treatment, you will be asked to involve yourself in multiple phone and/or video conversations as part of family therapy work. That said, while your partner is in treatment, it is important that he or she focus on the task at hand – understanding and overcoming his problem behaviors. Clients who are overly focused on outside communication generally find that their process of healing and recovery takes a back seat. That is something we work very hard to avoid. Thus, we limit the use of phones and other digital devices to break times in the early morning and early evening. And don’t worry about your partner acting out with his phone. All calls must be made in the presence of others, and porn, hookup apps, reaching out to former drug affiliated friends, and similar actions are strictly forbidden.

Note: There is a 72-hour moratorium on digital communications after your loved one’s arrival. Seeking Integrity will notify you about his arrival, but he will not be allowed to use his phone or any other digital device for the first 72 hours of treatment.

What is my role in my partner’s treatment?

Your support and participation are vital to effective treatment, and your voice will resonate throughout your partner’s treatment. There are a number of ways you can and hopefully will participate in the healing and recovery process.

First and foremost, we ask that you write a letter that will be read to your partner in treatment. This letter will explain what you believe the problem is and how that problem has impacted both you and your relationship. You will include things like how long you’ve been aware of the problem, specific thoughts and behaviors that you feel are part of the problem, what life issues you think contribute to the problem, and how you think the problem affects you and your family.

Additionally, our therapeutic team will be in contact with you at least a few times during your partner’s treatment, asking for clarification about certain points, and perhaps asking you to participate in a therapist-facilitated video session with your partner as a way of conveying important information or working through a particular issue. At the very least, you will receive updates on your partner’s progress, during which you can voice any hopes or concerns you have. And at the end of your partner’s treatment, his aftercare program will be described to you so you will understand what he needs to do to continue on the path of recovery and healing, and what you can do to facilitate that.

We will also strongly suggest that you find support for yourself. Experiencing the type of betrayal you’ve been through (and are still going through) is painful. So even though you are not the one with the identified problem, you deserve informed and empathic support. To that end, we suggest the free online support we offer through our SexandRelationshipHealing.com website. Groups for betrayed partners such as yourself include:

You might also want to pick up a copy of the book Prodependence, written by Dr. Robert Weiss to help partners of addicts. Lastly, we suggest you check out the blogs and podcasts on SexandRelationshipHealing.com created specifically to help betrayed partners.

Will treatment help my partner stop lying? Is there hope that he will ever become honest with me?

The good news is that yes, treatment will help your partner face the truth. In fact, that is a primary goal of treatment. First, your partner must become honest with himself. Then he can work on being honest with you. And this is a process that takes time. Of course, if you’re like most betrayed partners, you want to know everything that happened and you want to know it right now.

Unfortunately, getting a full and honest disclosure in this early stage of recovery is unlikely. At this point, your partner is still lying to himself. He is in denial about his behavior. He is convinced that there are good reasons for everything he has done, including the secrets and lies he’s bombarded you with.

This does not mean your partner will not eventually give you all of the information you seek. If he sticks with his aftercare plan, you should expect full therapeutic disclosure (disclosure that is supervised by a knowledgeable therapist) within three to six months. Usually, that disclosure will be followed by a polygraph test so you know that he is finally telling you the entire truth. But this is not something that is likely to happen while your partner is in treatment at Seeking Integrity – because at this early stage of recovery he’s just not capable of that.

What does ‘recovery’ mean, and how will that affect my relationship?

As your partner enters recovery for a sex and intimacy issue, with or without paired substance abuse, you are likely to be filled with questions. One of those questions will almost certainly deal with the nature of ‘recovery’ for sex and intimacy issues. What is it? How is it defined? Does sexual recovery mean total abstinence, as we see with issues like drug addiction and alcoholism? And if sexual sobriety does require abstinence, how will that affect you and your relationship?

Fortunately for you and your relationship (and for your addicted partner), sexual recovery is not defined by long-term abstinence. Celibacy is not viewed as a long-term solution. Instead, we define sexual recovery much as we define recovery with eating disorders—another area in which long-term abstinence is neither desirable nor feasible. Rather than permanently abstaining from all sexual activity, recovering individuals think about sobriety as learning to be sexual in non-compulsive, non-problematic, life-affirming ways. In time, you will likely find that your relationship is strengthened both emotionally and sexually by recovery.

Why does Seeking Integrity look at both substance abuse and sex/intimacy issues?

These issues often travel hand-in-hand. Sometimes substance use and sexual behavior occur in tandem as a way of overcoming sexual shame, overcoming low self-esteem, disinhibiting oneself sexually, or enhancing the sex or drug experience. Other times sexual behaviors alternate with substance abuse, typically with substances being used to numb the shame of recent sexual behavior.

Many men who engage in both substance abuse and compulsive sexual behavior will admit to one problem but not the other. They admit they have a problem with substance abuse, but not sex and intimacy. Or they admit they have an issue with sex and intimacy, but not substances. Sometimes they go to rehab for the issue they’re willing to admit to, and then relapse related to the untreated half of their problem.

At Seeking Integrity, we understand the interplay between substance use and sex and intimacy issues. And we know that if these behaviors are in any way paired or fused, both issues must be addressed or relapse is almost inevitable. So whatever it is that your partner admits to when he enters treatment, we’re going to uncover the behaviors that are tied to it, and we’re going to address his problems completely and holistically. Because that is the best (and we think only) true pathway to long-term recovery and healing.