Substance use recovery can feel like a lonely journey, especially if you feel that mistakes you made during your addiction damaged relationships and burned bridges.
As part of the healing process, you may be wondering how to prioritize connecting with family and rebuilding the support you once had. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of having parents, siblings and other family members involved in your journey as well as how to make amends in recovery.
Connecting with family
Many people have conflicting feelings about their family’s role in their addiction. Some may have cut ties with relatives, others may have lost loved ones and many struggle with boundaries with family members who are users themselves and may have influenced or introduced substance use into a person’s life.
According to the Journal of Social Work in Public Health, the family’s context can greatly influence the impact of treatment and lifetime outcomes, both positively and negatively. Family systems can establish behavioral patterns, contribute to the development of a substance use disorder or create environments that perpetuate addictions.
Connecting with family is a nuanced endeavor for a person in recovery, but when done with the primary goal of recovery in mind, it can be beneficial for many seeking sobriety.
Reconnecting with parents
Re-establishing good family relationships is easier with some relatives than others. Many of those who have dealt with addictions find that connecting with parents is the most daunting relationship to address. Some feel resentment towards parents who didn’t mitigate risk factors or permitted substance use, and others may feel shame towards parents who have strong feelings towards drug or alcohol abuse.
Reconnecting with parents can aid your recovery, though. Therapy (either your own or family therapy) can help improve communication skills, guide the establishment of boundaries and promote deep interior healing.
Making amends in recovery
Many recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, advocate for making amends with those who have been harmed by a past addiction. Part of the healing journey includes a self-assessment of how your actions have affected others and the damage they have caused.
How to make amends
In order to reconnect with parents and restore good family relationships, making amends may be necessary. Making amends is often a two-step process. The first is offering a sincere and specific apology, stating the ways you’ve erred and the ripple effects that have ensued. The second step is to correct a mistake when possible. For example, you may need to apologize for borrowing money to fuel your addiction, and then make a payment plan to repay what you borrowed.
Making amends will look different in every situation, so there is no perfect formula for how to heal past wrongs. However, the following tips can be useful in admitting your mistakes and moving forward in relationships.
- Focus on your role: it’s easy to justify our actions or blame others, but owning up to our own role in a negative situation (even if there were confounding factors) shows true humility and a desire to change. Until you acknowledge your own faults, healing from substance use will never be easy
- Avoid making excuses: the science of addiction is very clear regarding the severity of brain changes addictive chemicals cause. However, addiction should not be an excuse for the ways you have hurt others. Avoid blaming your addiction or making excuses. Taking responsibility shows maturity and demonstrates your commitment to making changes
- Apologize with your actions: making amends in recovery is about words and actions. Although it might feel like a burden to add something additional to your plate during treatment, consider it the natural consequences of your actions to have to remedy a situation
Making amends could include repaying money, offering to repair something that was damaged or expressing your commitment to change by attending therapy or volunteering for a relevant cause. Some injuries can never be compensated, but your family will appreciate the effort you put toward righting wrongs.
Life after treatment
Life in recovery requires continual self-assessment. Looking back and processing your addiction, reflecting on your treatment thus far and determining goals for the future are all necessary steps to the life-long journey of recovery from substance use addiction.
While recovery is a lifetime accomplishment, treatment doesn’t continue indefinitely. Completing an inpatient or outpatient treatment program is a feat worth recognizing and a major milestone toward sobriety. Maintenance may be needed for years afterward, either through 12-step meetings, regular therapy or similar support.
As time goes on, the intensity of your cravings and frequency of triggers will decrease. Moreover, you’ll grow stronger as a person and cultivate coping skills that are effective in your everyday life. Stressful stages of life may require a return to treatment or more intensive self-care, but there is hope for a calm and happy life after treatment.
Restoring good family relationships can go a long way toward the sustained recovery you’re hoping to achieve. Strong family bonds are one of the most significant protective factors against substance use and relapse. When you engage the family in your life and your recovery, you’ll have access to the emotional support you need, a solid community when hardships arise and a positive outlook on the future.
Get help to make amends in recovery
Healing relationships and apologizing for past wrongs can feel daunting. Don’t fret that you’ll have to do it all alone, because recovery programs can guide you through these and other family challenges as you work towards sobriety.
Silvermist Recovery can help you achieve the long-term peace you’ve been searching for. Contact Silvermist Recovery today to learn how you can foster good family relationships and rekindle bonds with family and friends.