Sobriety And Relationships
Addicts tend to focus on self-centered goals such as getting high or staying clean. These types of goals take away from one’s ability to connect with others so when an addict is in recovery, it’s important they learn to prioritize others over themselves.
Maintaining good friendships and having a strong support network can help you achieve a happy, healthy, sober life.
Identifying Toxic Relationships
Unhealthy relationships consist of various types of destructive dynamics. These include toxic people, negative communication patterns, power struggles, codependency, and many others. In fact, research suggests that individuals who battle relationship stress often use drugs or alcohol to cope. They might even experience depression or anxiety.
People in recovery or those with mental health issues are especially vulnerable to unhealthy relationships. A study published in 2018 found that those with mental illness were twice as likely to report having been involved in an abusive relationship compared to the general population.
Codependency And Unhealthy Relationships
The term codependency describes a pattern of unhealthy relationships that are characterized by a strong reliance on others. This includes people who rely on alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping, gambling, work, religion, exercise, pets, etc., to manage feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, loneliness, fear, grief, guilt, shame, self-doubt, worthlessness, and/or inadequacy. Codependent individuals often feel responsible for the actions of those around them. They believe that they must take care of everyone else’s needs, even though it might mean sacrificing their own happiness.
People who suffer from codependency tend to depend on others for validation and approval. They become dependent on their partner, family members, friends, coworkers, bosses, therapists, clergy, parents, teachers, coaches, doctors, and other authority figures. They may seek out advice and support from these people because they don’t want to face problems alone. However, they often fail to recognize their own role in creating their difficulties. It’s probably best to avoid any new romantic relationships in early sobriety so you don’t fall back into old patterns of co-dependency.
Identifying Healthy Relationships
According to Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, “to reach and maintain abstinence, it is important to maintain positive relationships and to engage self-agency to protect oneself from the influences of negative relationships.” One way to do that is by recognizing positive influences and potentially healthy relationships. Focus on the most supportive relationships in your life. You may have grown apart from those people because of your addictive behaviors. Now you have the opportunity to reach out and bridge that gap by doing the following:
- Ask for forgiveness for harmful things you may have said or done.
- Show them through your actions that you have chosen to remain sober.
- Attend support meetings (like a 12-step program or alcoholics anonymous), individual therapy, or family therapy to improve communication and self-awareness.
Not all relationships are healthy, and not everyone requires an extensive support system to stay motivated in their recovery journey. You may feel perfectly content with one or two loving and supportive people in your life. Learn how to identify healthy relationships and do your best to avoid hurting others with your actions. You can do this by being honest and communicating. These actions will help strengthen your recovery from addiction.
Building Healthy, Sober Relationships in Recovery
Your sobriety is just one part of a much bigger picture. In fact, there are many different aspects to building healthy relationships. For example, honesty and openness are key components in any healthy relationship. Honesty and openness allow sober people to express themselves freely without fear of judgment. They help you understand one another better and build stronger bonds.
Positive relationships are essential in recovery. When we’re open and honest with ourselves and others, we can begin to see our strengths and weaknesses. We learn how to accept ourselves and others. And we gain self-respect and self-confidence. These positive changes lead to living healthier, happier lives.
The most important thing to remember is that honesty and openness are necessary in every aspect of life. Whether you’re sober or not, being honest and open with yourself and others helps you grow into a better person and builds strong relationships.
Early Recovery Is About Self-Discovery
People who suffer from substance abuse disorders often spend a lot of time trying to figure out why they’re doing things the way they are. However, the truth is that they probably won’t understand themselves completely until they’ve been sober for several years. If you’re struggling with active addiction, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. You’re part of a larger group of people who have struggled with drug and alcohol problems. There are plenty of resources available to help you cope with your feelings and move forward.
Love Yourself First
The most important thing you can do to strengthen your commitment to recovery is to learn how to love yourself first. If you are struggling with self-love, here are some tips to help you start loving yourself again.
1. Accept Your Feelings
When we feel insecure about ourselves, we easily become angry and frustrated with others. We might even lash out at our romantic partners or children. But when we accept our feelings, we can begin to understand why we act the way we do. We can take steps toward healing and change.
2. Be Kind To Yourself
Self-kindness helps us appreciate ourselves while being gentle with ourselves. When we treat ourselves kindly, we are less likely to judge ourselves harshly. This allows us to see things in perspective rather than focusing solely on what we don’t like about ourselves.
3. Set Boundaries With Others
Boundaries allow us to protect ourselves without harming others. Setting limits around money, time, space, and energy helps us maintain healthy relationships.
Healthy Ways to Move Forward With Sobriety and Relationships
Making reparations as part of the recovery process will look different for everyone. Sometimes it is difficult to contact friends and family who may have been pushed away or grown distant- you can view that as a way to improve your communication skills. However, healing often includes finding ways to practice compassion, self-forgiveness, and forgiving others.
Some healthy ways to reconnect with others include:
- Updating friends and family about your choice to become sober.
- Opening up a line of communication and being honest without having expectations.
- Using resources like support groups and therapy to explore healthy boundaries.
Most relationship issues result from both people doing or saying something hurtful, which means reconnecting with others means facing the pain you both experienced. The goal of recovery is to maintain sobriety, grow, and move forward daily.
Practice Patience and Compassion
It is essential to practice patience and compassion when interacting with others and during moments of self-reflection. Rehabilitation facilities that offer a safe space to explore social connections will help you explore personal growth and healing during recovery. Therapeutic tools provide insight, coping mechanisms, and emotional stability. The social skills learned during treatment make it easier for individuals to overcome barriers between themselves and those they love. A few ways to heal broken relationships include:
- Actively listening to the other person’s point of view
- Being willing to accept blame for your choices
- Offering forgiveness to others and yourself
- Holding yourself accountable for past, present, and future actions
- Be ready to forgive yourself and others
Forgiveness is a common theme in the recovery community, and that is because forgiveness breaks down barriers and supports positive change.
Acknowledge Hurtful Mistakes
Forgiveness does not mean forgetting the past. What happened still matters and affects how you live and feel, but it does not have to control you. Being able to forgive others and accept forgiveness allows you to let go of any shame, guilt, regret, or self-loathing that might be holding you back from building a healthier future with that other person in your life.
A few ways to acknowledge the effect of mistakes include:
- Listening to how your words or actions made the other person feel.
- Owning the consequences of your comments or actions.
- Making a choice every day not to repeat past mistakes.
Show Your Resolve to Sober Living
Humans are social creatures, and individuals in recovery will benefit from healthy connections. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “the support of peers and friends is crucial in engaging and supporting individuals in recovery.” Mending relationships after achieving sobriety comes with a lot of vulnerability. Permitting yourself to take those steps will help you heal.
One way to show your resolve to your recovery plan is by being a role model for others in the recovery community. Your friends and loved ones will see your choices and how your positive influence affects others. Your dedication to self-improvement and addiction recovery will give others a reason to trust your sincerity when you try to repair damaged relationships.
Achieving sobriety is possible for individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD). Overcoming the symptoms and side effects of substance misuse involves facing the consequences of past actions and repairing damage to relationships. The National Institute on Alcohol Addiction and Alcoholism (NIAAA) stated that “families may play a key role in fostering the initiation of recovery.” Rebuilding close relationships can decrease your risk of relapse by giving you a support system. However, what you say and do affects others, and every person is responsible for how they act. Therapy and treatment include identifying how you may have impacted others with your past choices and finding ways to make amends or move forward.
The people who get hurt the worst by the effects of substance misuse are often the ones closest to us. At Sober Life, we understand the healing nature of forgiveness. The programs we offer include family therapy, social skills development, and therapeutic techniques for achieving emotion regulation. We encourage individuals to mend relationships with friends and loved ones that may have been damaged by the effects of SUD. Actively listening, communicating clearly, and choosing a healthier lifestyle give you a healthy foundation for change. Peer support is another excellent tool to boost your self-confidence and motivate you to repair damaged connections with the people in your life that mean the most to you.
Sober Life offers rehabilitation treatment for individuals living in and around San Diego, California. Contact our office today to find out more about our facility and services by calling us today at (619) 542-9542.