Restoring Relationships in Recovery
According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment,” Family therapy grew from a perceived need to bring to the therapy session respect and attention to each individual’s needs, interests, expressions, and worth.” These same interests can also be said about any other healthy relationship. In the throes of addiction, addicts often lose sight of the respect and worth of relationships that serve positive purposes and meaning in their life including their family, friends, co-workers, employers, neighbors, authority figures, and society, in general.
When relationships are broken, it’s not that the others in the relationship come to hate the addict, but, rather the abhorrent and harmful behaviors that they often display. People say that time can heal most wounds, but, relationships that have been severely neglected may take years to repair and some are simply unable t be salvaged. Honesty, trust, patience, open communications, forgiveness, accountability, recognizing boundaries, motivations to change, and learning to let go are just a few of the characteristics that work together in restoring relationships in recovery.
Restoring Relationships in the Family
The dynamics of the family are often changed for the worse when one of its members becomes addicted. As the addict’s reasoning, inhibitions, physical, psychological, and emotional stability dwindle they tend to invest all of their resources and efforts into trying to maintain their habit at any cost and even if they are doing so unconsciously. Others in the home may find themselves “walking on eggshells” and putting off dreams or goals in their own lives to keep a steady equilibrium for the addict in the hopes of keeping them from doing more harm or that someday they might change.
Families are closely-bonded groups that require a sense of loyalty between its members with different degrees of flexibility and adaptability. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, “The effects of substance abuse frequently extend beyond the nuclear family. Extended family members may experience feelings of abandonment, anxiety, fear, anger, concern, embarrassment, or guilt; they may wish to ignore or cut ties with the person abusing substances.”
Most individuals recovering from substance abuse are impatient to start restoring these relationships, but, for the other parties involved, their efforts can appear futile in contrast to the damages that have occurred. When the bond is broken, motivations to change in the addict do not always mean that the others will immediately follow suit. This is where a great deal of patience is tried and addicts can fall back into relapse if they let emotional triggers or senses of unappreciated efforts get the best of them.
Restoring Relationships in the Community
The working definition of recovery from mental disorders and/or substance use disorders, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” An important factor in the process is restoring relationships in the community. This doesn’t mean looking up old friends or associates, but, rather finding a healthy and purposeful meaning in life with positive support from peers, pastors, employers, and other service providers who have your best interest at heart.
12-Step recovery support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are highly beneficial in helping substance abusers restore relationships in recovery. Learning from the experiences of others to “change the things you can” and let go of “those things you cannot change” has helped millions of addicts and their families overcome the pitfalls of broken relationships while helping addicts regain their sense of self-respect and redemption in their communities.
Restoring Relationships in Recovery
Honesty – goes a long way in restoring relationships in recovery. Rebuilding trust may take a while, but, the more honest you are about yourself, your thoughts, your emotions, and your problems, the more others will be able to relate to your conditions.
Open communications – may get painful at times when you are faced with the consequences of your addiction and how it has affected others in your relationships, but, you can’t expect others to be involved in reconciliations without open communications.
Respect and recognizing boundaries – go a long way in restoring relationships, but, remember, respect must be earned and sometimes, others in the relationship may not allow you the opportunity to regain once-shared closeness. Showing efforts to change and commitments to healing the relationship even when others are ambivalent or leery of an ability to remain abstinent will in the least, help you gain self-respect.
Forgiveness and accountability – are changes made in recovery that will ultimately spill over into other areas of your life improving and restoring relationships. Truly, no one wants to be alone in their recovery progress and the more bad things you let go of to take on the good things in life the better off you will be in restoring relationships.
Participating in a substance abuse treatment program offers the greatest opportunities to learn how to deal with addiction and restore relationships in recovery. Counseling, peer support, behavioral therapies, and psychosocial services are woven together to help maximize your efforts to change and treatment success.