Long-term substance use doesn’t just impact your life; it can affect everyone around you. Being controlled by your addiction can cause you to think and behave negatively toward yourself and others. Substance use can strain or even end some of your closest relationships. When you live life under the weight of addiction, the relationships with yourself and others will continue to diminish. However, when you choose to become sober, you choose a life that will be free from substances and allows you to seek the activities and relationships you deserve.
Rebuilding connections and mending broken ties is not easy. During this process, you might feel anger or resentment, and these emotions will get in your way of moving forward. Understand that you have undergone treatment and achieved sobriety, and rebuilding relationships is a necessary step toward sustaining sobriety. Let’s look at specific ways you can rebuild relationships to restore meaning, trust and purpose among yourself and those you care about the most.
Work on Communication
Rebuilding relationships relies on communication. Learning how to express what you want to say and listening to what each other says is important. Communication through conversation instead of conflict is what is going to help strengthen the relationship to keep progressing. When reaching out for the first time, it is good to let the friend or family member know that you want to reconnect and that you have sought help for your substance use and completed treatment. Showing them that you are sober will convey that you are serious about recovery. Depending on the relationship, you might consider seeing them in person, calling them on the phone or sending an email.
Practice Forgiveness and Honesty
If you have spent years using substances, you might also be familiar with denial. To live without denial, acknowledge your mistakes and the people you have hurt, including yourself. You can utilize meditation or mindfulness to help you better understand your behaviors when using substances versus your behaviors now without substances. Such practices will help you release the shame and guilt about the past and help you know that you are no longer the person you were when you used substances – this will help you forgive yourself. Once you have achieved self-forgiveness, you will understand who you are today and can be ready to forgive others and ask for forgiveness.
Understand that even if your friends and family are slow to forgive, you are freeing yourself from any guilt by apologizing. Leading your life with honesty and staying sober will show others that you can keep promises and earn back their trust. However, it can take time, so be patient and continue to strengthen the health of the relationship with yourself and those already in your support network.
Continuing to be involved in support groups or outpatient treatment allows you and others to see how serious you are about your sobriety. Attending meetings will also help you make new connections with others that you share experiences with. Finding a community that understands what you are going through helps you feel less alone and are a great place to share your progress in rebuilding relationships with others. Support and advice from others who are going through a similar situation can go a long way in keeping you on track with your sobriety and give you ideas on how to heal past relationships.
Don’t Expect Immediate Change
Remember that your friends, family and colleagues likely did not have the same opportunity as you did to heal from the pain of your addiction. It is also essential to understand that treatment took time for you; repairing relationships might take time for them. Do not be surprised nor offended if you are met with hesitation or resistance or told by others that they do not trust you. Trust takes time, too. Focusing on setting goals with reasonable expectations will help build your patience and also help you maintain humility throughout the process.
You may need to prepare to cut ties entirely because, unfortunately, not every relationship will fully recover. The reasons might vary; resentment, mistrust or maybe the person you are trying to repair the relationship needs professional care, too. However, it is crucial to remember how far you have come and who you are today, and no matter what another might suggest, you are no longer the person that hurt them. Remember to reach out to those who support you, including friends, family, peers and professionals, and keep moving forward. If any relationship is not fulfilling or harmful to your recovery, then break off the relationship. You will find more peace when you cut ties with certain people that remind you too often of your past.
While rebuilding relationships is difficult, it is essential to sustain lasting recovery. If you cannot take steps to repair relationships and are dwelling on the past, then it’s time to move on. If you ever need additional help during any point of your addiction recovery, Associated Behavioral Health is always here to help at (844) 335-7384.