Addiction being a chronic disease leaves an effect on a person’s health & life too. One of the casualties of this battle is a trail of damaged relationships it leaves behind. Addiction has also been dubbed as a family disease, no matter the drug of choice. Lying, stealing, having erratic behaviour and other such practices leaves the close ones of the recovering person in major stress.
Family members directly helping the recovering person have the best intentions in their hearts but most of the time the addict needs professional help to cope up with the addiction. Part of the recovery process is helping the recovering person understand that their life won’t immediately go back to normal once the addiction is gone. It’s a process and will require effort to gain back the trust of the family members. With the right kind of help, repairing & reconnecting with your close relationships is possible. Here is how:
1. Set Realistic Expectations
A newly sober person is filled with positive energy, hopes for a better future for and is ready to start their relationships again. They are usually not focused on the past which sets an unrealistic expectation on their loved ones. Their likely pattern of negative behaviour in their relationship is still unresolved. Offering a sincere apology helps with starting things off again but the underlying issues and stress take time. Therefore, we need to develop a realistic expectation for rekindling old relationships.
2. Leave Lines Of Communication Wide Open
Most people suffering from addiction tend to withdraw from friends and family in an attempt to hide their behaviour and embarrassment. After recovery, trying to re-establish relationships with open and honest communication may be difficult in the early stages of recovery but it’s very important to regain the trust between family and close ones.
If a loved one hears about a person’s recovery, they may want to reach out. Being available, setting up talk time each week, sharing your fears, hopes and needs will not only put the person at ease but also their loved one.
3. Eliminate Unhealthy Relationships
While drug addiction affects healthy relationships, it also affects unhealthy relationships. The wrong kind of relationships can become a reason for the recovering person to slip back into their old routine. Therefore, it is very important to eliminate people who have been abusive to the person. One other relationship that puts the person’s recovery in jeopardy is the codependent family member. This person wants to shield the recovering addict from all possible problems. While the addict is learning to live an independent life, there is no room for someone making excuses for their actions. The codependent person also needs counselling to learn new behaviour patterns.
4. Strategize To Regain Trust
After a pattern where the trust is betrayed several times, it is likely to be a lengthy process to regain the trust. People with addiction often put their will to feed their addiction first to anything and everything, including their relationships. To ensure a steady supply of their drug of choice, they are prepared to lie, cheat and steal. This causes a massive dent in the relationship in terms of the trust. Because loved ones are habitual of old patterns, they will keep a close eye and be anxious around the now sober person. Keeping your word by actively showing them with your actions that you are a person of integrity will help but remember it will take time.
Last but not least be patient. It is hard to imagine how a person spending such a short span to time in recovery can change so fast. As you and your loved ones are navigating situations where you are able to deal with them honestly and directly, the trust will follow. Leaving you with this thought, every action taken towards rebuilding old relationships is a victory and needs to be celebrated wholeheartedly, no matter how slow. Keep celebrating!!