Addiction doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The self-destructive thoughts and behaviors associated with substance misuse can also hurt everyone who cares about you. Their lives became unpredictable and emotionally exhausting as they tried to come to terms with the withdrawn and often secretive person you turned into as the cycle of addiction took over.
People living with addiction can begin to prioritize their substance abuse above all else, including being present for their family and friends. There are many challenges on the road to drug and alcohol recovery, not least of which is rebuilding damaged relationships and learning to reestablish a foundation of trust with people you love. That work doesn’t happen overnight, but it is well worth pursuing, as it can make your relationships both stronger and more meaningful.
Addiction and Recovery Affect Both You and Your Loved Ones
Healthy relationships involve trust, honesty, open communication, patience and commitment – and addiction can gradually erode all these factors. A significant part of your recovery will involve reversing the damage you have done to relationships with your family members and friends, many of whom might have stood by and offered their unwavering support throughout your treatment.
In other circumstances, however, people you hurt when you were in active addiction may not be as eager to resume your relationship as you might have hoped. When you assess your relationship status with these people, you might feel a sense of isolation or shame – the same harmful emotions that also factored into your substance misuse. In early sobriety, these emotions can be overwhelming. It’s essential to take a step back and rely on the relapse prevention skills you learned in treatment and practice healthy coping mechanisms that help you deal with these negative feelings.
Recovery Is Not an Overnight Process
In today’s instant-gratification culture, it can be tempting to assume you can heal everything at once. However, part of your recovery entails you and your loved ones being mindful about setting realistic expectations for your progress. You should also ensure any relationships you repair on your recovery journey are strong enough to survive the stresses and setbacks you will inevitably encounter along the way.
It’s crucial to keep reminding yourself that the experience of addiction has changed your loved ones’ lives in many of the same ways it has affected yours. And while you have been fortunate enough to go through a program that helped you learn to manage your substance misuse and behavioral disorders, your friends and family members have not necessarily been able to benefit from the same therapies and treatment options that characterized your recovery. Be patient, keep the lines of communication open and make sure your loved ones feel seen and recognized during this transitional time.
How Sobriety Benefits Your Relationships
During your addiction recovery, you will learn to become more selfless, present in the moment and able to manage negative thoughts and behaviors effectively. In sobriety, you will also learn the following skills that will help nurture and support your valuable relationships.
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Addiction can cause people to become emotionally stunted. Rather than learning to deal with complex emotions or bring up difficult topics of conversation, you might have used drugs or alcohol to avoid having to be in these challenging situations. Now that you’re sober, it can feel overwhelming when these issues come up in your life. That’s why you and the people you love need to be patient and take things one step at a time.
Rebuilding damaged relationships after addiction can be one of the most demanding aspects of your recovery. At Spearhead Lodge, our experienced and caring staff can help you develop personalized strategies for navigating these complexities, while building life skills that provide the foundation for your stable, sober future. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.