Characteristics of seekers of couple therapy for alcohol use or gambling disorder

Thumbnail Image
Lee, Bonnie K.
Shi, Yanjun
Ofori-dei, Samuel M.
Miftari, Naser
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Wolters Kluwer Health
Objective: This study examined characteristics of individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD) or gambling disorder (GD) who were seeking couple therapy based on screening data from a randomized controlled trial on Congruence Couple Therapy at 2 out-patient addiction service sites in Alberta. Method: Screening data of couple therapy seekers (N= 171) were analyzed. Results: Seekers cited various motivations for seeking couple therapy including addiction-related relationship breaches and issues, the desire to recover from addiction together, concerns for the well-being of their children, and the lack of available couple therapy in addiction services until this trial. Significantly more females than males were first to indicate interest, and 77% of the sample had attended other treatment and mutual help programs in the past 12 months. The majority of the treatment seekers met DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for AUD and/or GD scoring in the moderate-severe range with nearly half of the seekers reporting a mental health diagnosis at least once in their lifetime. In addition, 30% of treatment-seekers reported past-year suicidal thoughts, citing their own addiction and their partners’ addiction as reasons and 57% of those individuals reported having a method/plan to carry out their suicide. Suicidal attempts in the past year was 8% based on the entire sample. Finally, 19% of treatment seekers reported experiencing intimate partner violence within the past 12 months. Conclusion: Addiction and couple relationship problems are closely connected. Despite the serious multiple concurrent concerns of seekers identified in this study, there is a general lack of couple therapy availability in addiction services. This study highlights the importance for addiction and mental health professionals to note the complex interaction of couple distress and addiction, understand couple therapy as a treatment modality, and make timely referrals for this vulnerable group.
Open access article. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND DEED) applies
Couple therapy , Addiction treatment , Concerned significant others , Alcohol use disorder , Gambling disorder , Comorbidities , Intimate partner violence
Lee, B. K., Shi, Y., Ofori-dei, S. M., & Miftari, N. (2023). Characteristics of seekers of couple therapy for alcohol use or gambling disorder. Canadian Journal of Addiction, 14(2), 32-39. DOI: 10.1097/CXA.0000000000000174