When someone is addicted to drugs and alcohol, they aren’t the only ones who suffer.
Their addiction can also hurt those closest to them, often damaging their most cherished and personal relationships.
Entering and completing an addiction recovery program is a major step in the right direction. During this important time, bonds can reform and connections can rebuild, but the process doesn’t happen overnight.
Today, we’re sharing a guide on rebuilding relationships in recovery. Read on to learn how to move forward, one step at a time.
Ways Addiction Damages Relationships
There are a myriad of ways addiction can wreak havoc on someone’s relationships. From their friends and family members to their significant other, those closest to them witness firsthand the destruction it can cause.
Let’s take a look at a few of the issues that addiction can create, and how these can impact future reconciliations.
Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol might experience behavioral changes that lead to major trust issues.
For instance, they might downplay their addiction. Or, they might claim that they’ve stopped using when that isn’t the case. Some might even steal from the ones they love to fund their addiction.
Once the truth comes out, it can be difficult to repair that broken confidence. Loved ones are left feeling abandoned and deceived.
Fear of Personal Safety
Substance abuse can also lead a person to act eccentrically, even violently. This might cause loved ones to fear for their safety. They might start tiptoeing around the person, afraid of sparking an explosive reaction.
Even after recovery, they may dread being around that person, remembering past hurts.
Guilt and Blame
Sometimes, people can also feel guilt surrounding a loved one’s addiction. They might even believe that they are to blame for part of it.
This is especially the case if they’ve loaned that person money, covered for them, or let them continue to abuse drugs and alcohol after discovering their addiction. In these cases, these people will need to forgive themselves as well as the addicted person before they can move on.
Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery: Five Steps
Understanding the issues that can arise, how can you start rebuilding relationships after addiction? Let’s take a look at five steps that can help the process go as smoothly as possible.
1. Reach Out
To initiate a personal reconciliation, it helps to be the person that reaches out first.
For many, this first step will be especially difficult, but it’s a critical one. Reaching out means you’re at least willing to work past old hurts. It shows you’re ready to start rebuilding the fractures in your relationship, however deep those might be.
2. Be Realistic
It’s important to set realistic expectations when repairing relationships both during and after addiction. Especially if there was deeply-seated hurt, this process could take months and even years.
Both parties should enter the process logically, without expecting instant harmony. Things might get difficult before they get better, and that is to be expected. Past issues and pain will likely make their way to the surface, which can feel like taking a step back.
If everyone is willing to stay the course and work past those trials, what follows can be a beautiful process of healing and restoration.
3. Distinguish Between the Person and the Disease
You can love someone completely while still abhorring the choices they’ve made and the trials they’ve put you through.
To restore your relationship with someone in recovery, remember that addiction is a very real and very destructive disease. It can cause the most logical, loving people to make cruel and damaging decisions that go against their character.
As you move forward, try to separate the person from the disease that ravaged them. This way, you’ll be able to approach your future together with a more open mind.
4. Require Honesty
A foundation built on deception is bound to crumble. From the very onset, both parties should agree to only being 100% honest from that day forward.
Especially if there have been instances of mistrust and betrayal in the past, this is a non-negotiator. The addicted person should own up to and apologize for the hurt they’ve caused and commit to being fully transparent in the moments to come.
At the same time, their loved ones should also make a pledge of truthfulness. They’ll commit to being open about their feelings and candid about any struggles they’re experiencing. This way, everyone is on the same page and the reconciliation doesn’t become one-sided.
5. Look Ahead, Not Back
When a loved one falls into the trap of addiction, it can be easy to dwell in the past.
You might remember the way they used to be before the substance abuse took hold. Or, you might fix your thoughts on the way they hurt and abandoned you in the throes of their own personal trials.
Either way, looking back isn’t a healthy way to move forward. While it’s important to work through how you felt, resist the urge to stay there. At some point, loved ones have to agree to release the person of their wrongdoings and make the conscious choice to forgive.
At the same time, the person in recovery should feel comfortable owning up to and working past any mistakes made. This way, everyone can enjoy a fresh start on a clean page.
Rebuilding, Restoring and Finding Peace During Recovery
If someone you love is currently in recovery for an addiction, they’ll need support from you more than ever before. This is a major decision and a sign that they realize their need for help.
However, rebuilding relationships in recovery can be a tricky process. You want to believe your loved one is ready to change for good, but how can you be sure? Opening yourself up to the idea of reconciliation can make you feel vulnerable and exposed.
The only way to move ahead successfully is to be gentle with yourself and the other person. Understand that while this process might take time and be wrought with challenges, it’s more than worth it.
If you have any questions about our recovery treatment services, feel free to reach out today.