In the present master’s thesis, the author explored the experience of partnership in the treatment process for alcohol addiction. The author focused on how partners experience their relationship before and after starting treatment.
In the theoretical part of the thesis, the key elements of alcohol addiction are presented, followed by the emotional and relational aspects of addiction. Due to basic human motivation of establishing secure connections, addiction is presented through the lens of attachment theory. Furthermore, the author describes the consequences of addiction on the family, the influence on children and the characteristics of families with addicted members. The consequences of addiction on a couple’s relationship are also presented with the focus on the coping strategies of spouses of addicted persons. Additionally, the treatment process in Slovenia is described and the importance of family members as an integral part of the treatment process is highlighted. The stages of family and couple recovery are also presented.
In the empirical part of the thesis, the author used a qualitative phenomenological method based on personal experience of the specific phenomenon. With the help of semi-structured interviews, the author received information from five couples about the experience of partner relations in the process of addiction treatment. The main questions focused on the experience of the partners before and at the beginning of the treatment, as well as on the changes they experienced throughout the whole process. The results of the research showed that all couples experience their present relationships as considerably better than before, with an emphasis on gradual growth of the relationship. They all appreciate the support of the group of recovering alcoholics that has offered them the encouragement to work on their relationship. All spouses of recovering addicts have tolerated the latter’s drinking for long time periods and have experienced feelings of intense fear, which gradually decreased. Couples mostly described the atmosphere during the drinking phase as tense, full of conflict and with the phrase “days of silence”. They also emphasise that abstinence alone is not sufficient for the relationship growth, but it is a necessary foundation for it. Today, the biggest change that the couples see in their relationship is the improvement of their communication.