Addiction causes considerable damage to relationships. Upon entering addiction treatment, addressing the damage inflicted on relationships is an integral part of recovery. While it is natural to want to repair these relationships as soon as possible, it can take time to mend. Addiction inflicts a great deal of harm over a long period of time and the time needed to repair relationships caught in the crossfire can be just as long.
Repairing existing relationships and developing new, healthy ones is all vital to success in treatment. In treatment, you must first learn how to manage your own needs and expectations in relationships before moving forward in others. This can help a person better understand what they need in relationships before trying to meet the needs of others. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery can also help them understand how their words and actions impact those around them. This will allow them to mend existing relationships and set healthy boundaries in future relationships.
Regardless of the type of relationship you are building, communication is vital to healthy growth. It is important to be transparent, honest, and clear in your expectations and needs. Exploring thoughts and feelings with others can help you manage difficult situations in a positive way and reduce the likelihood of slipping back into behaviors that initially enabled addicted to develop.
Tips for Healthy Relationships
Drugs and alcohol are often used as tools in social interactions, but as you move through recovery, you must learn how to develop and maintain relationships without those crutches. Drugs or alcohol may have been used as tools to remove barriers and reduce anxiety which may mean it can take a while for you to feel comfortable developing relationships without assistance. This is true for friendships, romantic relationships, or relationships with coworkers. Regardless of the level of involvement you are looking for in these connections, it is important to maintain healthy boundaries and prioritize your sobriety above all else. Do not put your recovery in jeopardy for the sake of maintaining a relationship.
- You must first develop a relationship with yourself: Your recovery should focus first and foremost on learning who you are and what you want in life. Allow recovery to be a time for self-reflection, exploration, and understanding so that you can better determine what you need moving forward. Having a strong sense of self can help you build better relationships with others.
- You should be strong and stable in your recovery before forming serious relationships: Dating in early recovery is not encouraged because of its ability to negatively impact recovery. This does not mean you cannot form meaningful, close friendships early in treatment, but it is important to be able to cope with the ups and downs in relationships in a healthy way. Take a step back and seriously assess your ability to manage your emotions and the potential pitfalls you may encounter. Taking the time to be strong in your sobriety before starting relationships can ensure they remain healthy.
- Your past will play a role: This is especially true when you are working on repairing relationships that existed prior to the development of addiction. You will not be able to remove this history from those relationships, but it does not have to be a bad thing. Instead, you can use this as a learning opportunity. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the relationship and determine how you can improve it moving forward. You can also apply this to new relationships in the future.
- Past relationships can teach you something: In addition to learning how you can improve relationships affected by substance abuse, you can also identify warning signs in potential future relationships better. Analyzing patterns in relationships, both good and bad, can help you avoid trouble in the future and strengthen relationships.
- Understand the impact of codependency: Codependency is a common problem in the development of addiction. This can lead to unhealthy relationships, manipulation, and an imbalance in power. Understanding the influence of codependency can help you make better choices moving forward. Establishing healthy boundaries and learning how to say “no” is vital in any relationship, especially in early recovery.
- Take things slow: It is easy to get involved too quickly with others, whether the relationship is platonic or romantic in nature. Not providing relationships room to breathe and grow naturally can lead to unhealthy behaviors or patterns. Rushing into relationships can cause you to develop connections and dependencies that may interfere with recovery.
- Hiding your past is not healthy: You will inevitably be faced with the decision of whether or not you want to reveal your recovery status to others. You are in no way obligated to share this with anyone, but hiding it is not necessarily healthy either. Assess your relationship and how much you feel comfortable sharing. If you are wanting to form a closer, more meaningful relationship with someone, you may need to be more transparent about your recovery status.
- Do not let just anyone in: You may feel as though you are less healthy than those around you because you have suffered with an addiction. This is not always the case. Remember, not everyone you meet is good or right for you. Be aware of red flags and be vigilant if you notice any warning signs. Dishonesty, violence, and other dangerous behaviors can put you at risk and is not worth the potential trouble.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.