When someone is struggling with active addiction, it can take a toll on relationships with family and friends. Trust is easily broken and can take a long time to rebuild. A person’s actions and behaviors while under the influence can contribute to creating family rifts that are challenging to overcome. But by focusing on substance use recovery and relationships together, individuals can begin to rebuild their lives and create a supportive environment for healing. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work to improve relationships with loved ones in recovery:
Remember that it takes time to re-establish trust once it has been broken. Be patient and take things one step at a time. It can be tempting to question someone’s decisions or behaviors knowing they have a history of substance misuse, but give them the opportunity to apply what they have learned in substance recovery programs and demonstrate that they are making progress. Even small steps forward are something to be celebrated.
Try not to rush things because forcing connections when someone is not ready can contribute to an even worse fallout and cause a permanent rift between you and them. Realize that they are trying and it can be difficult to make amends with people. Also recognize that there may be some people they do not want to reconnect with because those people are not a positive influence in their life.
The Truth is Out There
Be truthful in your interactions with loved ones; transparency plays an important role in rebuilding relationships in recovery and fostering effective communication. Rather than ignoring problems or letting them fester, be honest and speak up. Work together to find a solution. It’s okay to ask questions, but avoid being accusatory. Listen to what they have to say in order to dispel any doubt or mistrust.
Support Their Efforts
It can be very hard talking about negative experiences in recovery or at home. Your loved one is making an earnest attempt to get their life back on track, but they need your support. Don’t hold their past against them; everyone makes mistakes. Addiction does not define a person – they are so much more than that. If you’re unsure about ways to support their relationships and addiction treatment, ask how you can help and what they need.
It’s a Two-Way Street
Rebuilding relationships in recovery can be challenging, but don’t forget that it is a two-way street. Yes, your loved one will certainly be making changes in their life, but you may have to make some in yours too. Going back to the way things were before they entered substance recovery programs is not effective for promoting the positive changes they have been working on.
Your loved one’s first priority is their recovery and relationships come after, but that does not mean they need to be permanently estranged from the family. When everyone works together to provide support and understanding, this can go a long way in rebuilding relationships in recovery. Participating in residential programs can help individuals develop the skills and strategies necessary for reducing risk of relapse and embracing a substance-free lifestyle. They may also benefit from a dual diagnosis program if they have mental health concerns as well and need depression or anxiety treatment as part of their recovery.
Crossroads works with clients and their families to create a comprehensive treatment plan that fits the individual’s needs and goals while also providing support to families as they learn to navigate the recovery process as well. Substance misuse is hard on relationships and addiction treatment is a necessary step toward promoting healing for everyone.