Changes in Work Status, Couple Adjustment, and Recovery Capital: Secondary Analysis of Data From a Congruence Couple Therapy Randomized Controlled Trial

Subst Abuse. 2022 May 21:16:11782218221088875. doi: 10.1177/11782218221088875. eCollection 2022.


Purpose: Employment and family/social relationships are 2 of the highest priorities among those in substance use recovery. This study examined the relationship of work status with couple adjustment and other recovery capital treatment outcomes among symptomatic alcohol, substance use, and gambling participants (N = 38) using data collected in a randomized trial comparing a systemic Congruence Couple Therapy (CCT) and individual-based Treatment-as-Usual (TAU).

Method: Change scores and associations between work status and couple adjustment together with 8 other recovery outcome variables at post-treatment (5 months from baseline) and follow-up (8 months from baseline) in TAU (n = 17) and CCT (n = 21) were analyzed.

Results: Number of those working increased with both CCT and TAU but without reaching significance in either CCT (Cochran's Q = 5.429, P = .066) or TAU (Cochran's Q = 2.800, P = .247). Relative to those not working in the combined sample, those working showed significantly improved scores in post-treatment and follow-up in addictive symptoms, couple adjustment, psychiatric symptoms, depression, and life stress. Separating the CCT and TAU groups, similar trend was found in the CCT group but was inconsistent in the TAU group.

Conclusion: Significantly greater improvement in addictive symptoms and recovery capital of couple adjustment, mental health, and life stress was found in the working vs not-working group. Compared to individual-based TAU, exploratory findings indicate that the systemic treatment of CCT showed a clearer and more consistent difference in improved working days, addictive symptoms and recovery capital. Replication with larger samples is needed to generalize these results.

Keywords: Employment; alcohol use; congruence; couple adjustment; couple therapy; gambling; mental health; recovery capital; substance use.