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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Treating Alcohol Problems With Couple Therapy

Couple therapy for treating alcohol use disorders (AUDs) results in less drinking and greater relationship stability and satisfaction in both men and women with AUDs.

The theoretical tenets, treatment methods, and research evidence for Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy (ABCT) are summarized.

The application of ABCT is illustrated through the treatment of a 42-year-old woman with an AUD and her 56-year-old husband.

During 12 sessions over a 6-month period, the woman attained abstinence from alcohol and learned cognitive and behavioral coping skills to deal with drinking antecedents. Her husband learned to support her abstinence by stopping drinking himself, helping her cope with drinking urges, and reinforcing her successes. The couple increased positive pleasurable activities that did not involve alcohol and improved their communication skills.

Challenges in the treatment included her ambivalence about abstaining, their complicated work and travel schedules, and other life stressors.

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