Relationships are one of the first casualties of addiction. As an addict’s dependence on a substance worsens, they may lie, cheat, steal, and even exercise violence towards their spouses, parents, children, relatives, co-workers, and friends. These and other extreme behavioral changes can put a strain on their relationships.
Thus, repairing relationships should be a priority after addiction treatment. Aside from allowing one to make amends, repairing relationships can even help one focus on the road to recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the family and friends of an addict can play crucial roles in motivating their loved one to enter and stay in treatment. Being involved in a recovering addict’s treatment program can strengthen and extend treatment benefits. Family therapy can also be very beneficial — especially for adolescents.
However, repairing relationships may be easier said than done. Relationships are built on trust, and trust may be hard to regain depending on what one has done prior to entering into a rehab center. Despite difficulties, this is still possible. Here are some ways one may attempt to reform healthy relationships with loved ones:
Develop Healthy Communication Skills
Healthy communication is important in any relationship. Though it may sound difficult, it’s crucial to make an effort to reach out to people one has hurt in the past. One may choose to do this in person or through other means, like a phone call or an email. At the same time, when one is given the chance to communicate, they should actively listen to what the other person is saying. They may be met with resistance or even resentment, but if they want to truly make amends, the addicted party must first communicate their intentions in a way that can avoid conflict.
Commit to Being Trustworthy
When rebuilding relationships, it may not be enough to gain someone’s trust. An individual must also commit to being trustworthy. It is important for them to follow through and keep their promises. They must show that they are dedicated to their obligations. It is normal for doubt and skepticism to linger among loved ones as they are likely hurt by an addict’s past actions.
In regaining someone’s trust, here are some helpful tips:
- Be prepared to face resistance.
- Exercise empathy.
- Be patient.
- Forgive yourself.
- Focus on making improvements.
Ask for Forgiveness, But Accept That Things Are Not the Same
Guilt is an overpowering emotion that may hinder an addict’s complete recovery. Thus, it is important for them to ask for forgiveness from those who may have been hurt by their past actions. However, a recovering individual must be aware that there may be some hesitance on a loved one’s part as they did not have the opportunity to undergo healing. Thus, the recovering addict should accept that things are not the same, but in doing so, they have a chance to build an even stronger relationship with loved ones — provided they are committed to making amends and regaining that trust.
Nothing Is Impossible
Repairing relationships takes time and patience. One must not hurry the process as connections cannot be mended overnight. However, it will be well worth the effort as family, friends, and even co-workers can become the support that individual needs to fully recover from addiction.