Mending Personal Relationships in Recovery

It is well known that addiction and intimate or long-term committed relationships do not mix well.  Individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol affect everyone around them, and their addiction can cause severe damage to all of their relationships. The addict’s children, relatives, friends, and even co-workers feel the effects of addiction. Unfortunately, the greatest price is often paid by the addict’s partner.

Although the effects of having an addicted loved one can be devastating, there are opportunities while the addict is in treatment to start to mend and repair these relationships. Even if the addict was under the influence or does not remember saying or even engaging in activities that severed relationships, the pain those loved ones felt was real, raw, and had a tremendous effect on them. Some loved ones may not be ready to address their emotional pain, while others are open to the idea.

Effects of Addiction

Each addict was influenced by a combination of factors to seek the use of drugs or alcohol. These factors could have been genetic, environmental, psychological, or even social. No matter why an addict initially sought the use of drugs, the pain and worry his loved ones felt on a daily basis could have caused the addict to destroy numerous relationships he once held dear. Included in the following are some examples on the effects of addiction:

  • Torn relationships
  • Loss of priorities
  • Engaging in uncharacteristic activities

Because addiction is isolating and damages relationships, the addict may start to feel like the “outcast” of the family. This could lead the addict to abuse his substance of choice even more as a coping mechanism to numb the pain and loneliness he feels. Addiction also typically causes the addict to focus solely on his next use, so much so that he no longer worries about prior commitments or obligations. This could include spending time with his children, helping around the house, or even being there for his spouse.  The addict may even engage in promiscuous activity while under the influence, increasing his ad his partner’s risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

How to Rebuild Relationships After Addiction

Rebuilding any relationship after it has been negatively impacted, especially by addiction, can be a long process. This process requires patience, integrity, and open communication between all who wish to be involved. Included in the following are some examples on how to rebuild relationships after addiction:

  • Take your time
  • Encourage involvement
  • Be honest

Chances are that a single event is not the root cause for the relationship to have ended and because of this, one single therapy session or heart to heart talk will not fully recover or fix the relationship.  Repairing relationships can take time, so being patient with the process and addressing the past can help the relationship progress and have a brighter future.

Some treatment facilities offer family counseling sessions.  During these sessions, loved ones are able to address specific issues that they believed ultimately affected their relationship with the addict and then the addict is able to explain the reasons behind his actions. It’s important to understand that although the addiction may have been the most significant cause of the relationship to crumble, there may have been other causes that could have started even before the addiction.

Learning how to effectively communicate with one another, without arguments or blaming, can be one of the hardest aspects of repairing relationships. Years of emotional pain could make it difficult for both the addict and his loved ones to communicate in a healthy and effective way. For the relationship to succeed, both the addict and his loved ones need to address the pain, heal from it, and move on.