One of the casualties from the battle with addiction is the trail of damaged relationships it leaves in its wake. But, with the right help, repairing a damaged relationship is possible.
REBUILDING RELATIONSHIPS IN RECOVERY
The key to healing from addiction and rebuilding trust after an addict has hurt you is through a drug and alcohol treatment program. Professional help is sometimes necessary for people that are struggling with addiction in order for them to learn how to live a sober lifestyle.
The recovery process includes helping addicts realize that their lives will not immediately become better when they stop using chemicals. Responsibility needs to be taken by clients in recovery in order to deal with the aftermath of events which occured while they were still using drugs or alcohol. While it wasn't their choice to use while they were in the cycle of addiction, the harm caused to relationships needs to be dealt with. Professionals can help clients using several different techniques.
SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
A client that is newly sober may feel positive about progress made in early sobriety as they prepare for a fresh start in their relationships, but it's important not to forget the past. It's possible that there was a pattern of several years of negative behavior in a relationship which cannot be resolved immediately, even with a sincere apology. Every action towards rebuilding is a victory and should be celebrated, but it may take more than just a few steps to reach the finish line.
REBUILDING TRUST TAKES TIME
When the past shows a pattern of trust being betrayed, rebuilding it is likely going to be a lengthy process. When it comes to addiction, individuals will always put feeding the disease first. In order to ensure a steady supply of the drug of choice, people are prepared to lie, cheat, and steal. This is also used to hide the addiction.
LEARN HEALTHY COMMUNICATION METHODS
Healthy conversation goes both ways between people communicating and involves listening and talking. Oftentimes, people will begin formulating their next point, waiting for a break in a conversation and not listening to what is being said. Treatment allows clients to learn effective ways to communicate with others and how to truly listen during conversations. Conflict can be dealt with in a healthy manner that doesn't end with someone feeling as if they need to tune out by using drugs or having a drink. Clients are also taught that it is possible to resolve issues without resorting to guilting someone into doing what they ask, storming out and disappearing, or any other negative reactions that may have been used in the past. It will be more comfortable for family and friends to express themselves if they feel heard.
ELIMINATE UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Once on the path to recovery, a client may find that not all relationships in their life were healthy or positive. Bad relationships will not contribute to a healthy recovery and could cause a client to slip back into relapse. If people in a client's life are still using drugs or alcohol or not being supportive, these people will no longer have a place in the clients life.
People who are co-dependent will also pose a problem towards recovery. It is common that a family member or friend may feel as if they "need" to look after someone suffering from addiction, and shield them from the consequences of their actions. Once the client begins the process of recovery and accepts responsibility for their actions, moving forward from the past, there will no longer be room for someone making excuses for them.
TIPS FOR RECOVERING ADDICTS SEEKING TO REBUILD RELATIONSHIPS
Treatment is a great time to begin rebuilding damaged relationships. These tips may help to rebuild positive relationships in a client's life.
Reaching out is the first step towards repair. If a phone call seems as if it won't be well received, or more time is needed to think of how to reconnect, consider sending an e-mail or a letter instead. Let the person know that you are in recovery treatment for your addiction, or treatment is completed. Tell them that you are trying to get your life back on track and you'd like this person to be a part of it.
It is possible that the people you once surrounded yourself with got used to the denial of addiction, and have been used to feed the addiction in the past. Communication should now be direct and clear. Apologize for what has happened in the past, being as specific as you would like to be, and ask for their forgiveness.
After you've requested forgiveness, the rest is out of your hands. You cannot change the past, you can only move forward towards a brighter future and make better decisions after recovery.
MAKE A POINT BY INITIATING CONTACT
Friends or family could be hesitant to reach out as you begin recovery. They may not know how to respond. Taking initiative and reaching out will show that you are not the same person you once were, but you are a much healthier version that they have not seen for quite some time. You can still be yourself, with your same humor and mannerisms, with the ability to have fun free of chemicals.
KEEP UP WITH RECOVERY BY ATTENDING MEETINGS/SESSIONS
Show that you are serious about maintaining recovery to your friends and family, by also holding yourself accountable. Although you may not be able to discuss what is said or what happens during sessions, you will be able to reassure them that you are continuing regular treatment after completing a recovery treatment program.
RECOVERY ISN'T EASY
Recovery is not an easy process. It takes time, forgiveness, and rebuilding. However, the outcome is worth all that it takes. Rebuilding relationships and establishing a healthy support system will make recovery and accountability that much easier. Take the first step and find a recovery treatment program that will work for you.