Addiction does not only impact the person misusing drugs or alcohol; it also affects those around them. Relationships can be damaged as a result of the things that are said and done while under the influence. Feelings get hurt, trust is broken, and there are often misunderstandings. After seeking addiction treatment, many people are ready to make amends and start rebuilding healthier relationships in their lives.
However, it is important to be strategic with relationships. Identify those people who will be supportive of your recovery and lifestyle changes, and those who may be a poor influence and put your sobriety at risk. Also, realize that not every relationship can be repaired. Sometimes the damage is too great, or the other person is not yet ready to try again. Respect their feelings.
Be patient. In your effort to rebuild relationships, realize that healing takes time. You cannot expect trust to redevelop overnight. It is something that must be proven and earned. Do not become discouraged if things do not move as quickly as you had hoped. And remember to forgive yourself and not focus on mistakes you may have made in the past. If you’re asking others to move on, you must as well.
Focus on actions. As the old cliché goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” You can say that you have changed and you are going to do things differently moving forward, but these words often hold little weight when it comes to healing relationships. Show through your actions that you have changed. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Do not make promises that you know you cannot keep, or set expectations that you cannot live up to. Be honest and realistic. As you stay true to your word, others will begin to see for themselves how you have changed and regain trust.
Improve communication. Good communication is essential in building trust and respect, which are foundational for any healthy relationship. When talking to others, really focus on listening and hearing what they have to say, not just thinking about how you will respond. Acknowledge the fact that you may have hurt them in the past, and be open about how you have changed. When problems arise, take the time to talk through them and make sure you each understand the other’s perspective. This can help to reduce strain on an already fragile relationship and ensure you’re working together toward common goals.
Just as overcoming addiction requires hard work and commitment, so does repairing relationships that may have been damaged along the way. Have faith that you will find those people in your life who will stand beside you and support you in your recovery. And know that sometimes apologizing, making amends, and changing your ways is all you can do; the rest is up the other person to reciprocate.
Seacliff helps clients to work through the challenges of addiction and create an individualized plan for recovery. The 12-step recovery program is a cornerstone of treatment and helps guide clients through processes such as making amends and building healthier relationships. It’s not too late to turn your life around and begin the journey to recovery at Seacliff.