Repairing Personal Relationships After Struggling with Substance Abuse
Whether you have struggled with addiction yourself or a loved one has, there is no denying that the person using drugs or alcohol is not the only one suffering from the effects of substance abuse. On the contrary, addiction often affects everyone around it, sometimes wreaking havoc on personal relationships.
When young adults take the initiative to work towards recovery, one of the most important and most difficult steps they face is rebuilding relationships that were damaged due to their addiction. In order to repair these connections, it’s important that both the person in recovery and their loved one approach one another with open minds, forgiving hearts, and a willingness to compromise.
These are some tips for rebuilding relationships after addiction.
Common Relationships Affected by Addiction
Especially for those young adults who lived with their families while struggling with addiction, family members are some of the most commonly affected by substance abuse. They may have been the ones who watched your appearance and behavior change first-hand while you fell deeper into addiction.
Next to your family members, your significant other likely has the most love for you and may have also closely experienced the changes addiction caused in you. They may struggle with trust issues and emotional damage that were created during your period of substance abuse.
While some may feel as though your friendship may have been neglected due to your substance abuse, others may have been the reason you fell into addiction in the first place.
When you begin to work towards rebuilding relationships while in recovery, it’s important to objectively look at the company you kept and decide which relationship should be salvaged and which you are better off without.
Common Reasons Addiction Damage Relationships
Addiction can lead to a number of behavioral changes that can create trust issues within your relationship. Perhaps you said you had stopped using or downplayed how often you were drinking or taking drugs. Maybe you stole personal belongings or fell into debt financing your addiction. You may have even disappeared for long periods on end and left your loved ones feeling abandoned and worried.
Drug and alcohol use can cause you to behave and act erratically, sometimes even violently. This may have left your loved one afraid of you and how you would react to things. While they may feel better knowing you won’t behave in such a way once you’re in recovery, the fear from the past may linger.
Issues with the Law
If your addiction got you in trouble with law enforcement, your loved one may hold onto the way that experience made them feel. Whether they fronted money for your bail and other legal fees or were upset by your being arrested—there are many emotions that may have fractured your relationship.
In some cases, your loved ones may feel as though they enabled your substance abuse issues or did not do enough to help you towards recovery. In cases like these, it’s important to remember that they will have to forgive themselves as well.
Tips for Rebuilding Relationships
Be the First to Reach Out
If you want to repair a relationship with someone, it helps to be the person who reaches out first. While this can be difficult, it shows your loved one that you’re ready and willing to work toward repairing the damage your addiction may have caused.
Remember the Disease is Not the Person
It can be difficult at times to remember that someone’s addiction does not define who they are as a person. When trying to rebuild your relationship with your loved one as they recover, do your best to separate the person from the disease. By doing so, you’ll be able to approach the situation with a more open mind.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Relationships, especially those that are deeply broken, will not be fully restored overnight. It’s important to set realistic expectations when reconnecting with loved ones so both parties approach each other rationally.
Understand that it will take time for negative feelings to diminish and everyone to comfortably move forward. Don’t try to rush things to be 100% too soon, as this can create more problems.
The best thing you can do to start fresh and restore fractured relationships is be completely honest. Own up to and apologize for mistakes you may have made when you were using and be honest about how you would like to move forward.
Agree to Let Go of the Past
While it can be difficult to forget certain wrongs that may have been exchanged while you were struggling with substance abuse, it’s not beneficial or healthy to harp on past mistakes for too long of a period of time.
Speak with your loved one and agree that, after a certain point, they will not hold past events against you and, at the same point, you will not feel guilty about choices you made. You and your loved one both deserve a fresh start to rebuild your relationship.
Keep in Touch Regularly
While it’s important to reach out initially, the process of rebuilding your relationship can only continue as long as you and your loved one keep in touch. Especially if they are someone whom you don’t see in person as often, make sure you keep up contact with them regularly after your initial meeting.
Get the Help You Need at Silvermist Recovery Center
Tucked away on a private, 30-acre campus, our residential addiction treatment program for young adults provides the perfect setting for a transformative recovery experience and a sense of belonging.
Silvermist’s programs will address the complexities of drug addiction, alcohol addiction as well as underlying trauma, PTSD, and co-occurring mental health challenges.
To get the help you or a loved one needs, contact us today at (724) 268-4858.