Rebuilding Relationships Damaged by the Effects of Addiction

Distressed couple

Substance abuse can lead to temporary and permanent changes in character, behavior, physical health, and cognitive function. The degree to which those changes manifest can fluctuate based on several factors, including genetics, medical history, and current health status. Unfortunately, when under the influence, many people find themselves acting in a way that causes physical or emotional harm to people they care about deeply. During treatment, you can come to terms with the consequences of your past actions while creating a healthy plan for managing personal boundaries and repairing damaged relationships

Reconnect With Loved Ones Impacted by Your Addiction

Your past does not have to define your future. Part of healing from the symptoms and side effects of substance use disorder (SUD) involves reconnecting with loved ones impacted by your actions. Once you have taken the difficult step of telling them about your substance use disorder and recovery journey, then the real work begins. You need to show them you are serious about maintaining sobriety and want them to be a part of your life. A few ways you can express your intentions and try to set them at ease is through the following: 

  • Demonstrating reliability and responsibility
  • Avoiding past maladaptive behaviors and thought patterns
  • Accepting the consequences of your actions
  • Respecting their boundaries and presenting your own
  • Continuing to actively participate in your recovery and treatment

The 12-Step Approach to Forgiveness

Steps eight and nine in the Twelve Steps published by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) direct you to create a list of people harmed due to the effects of your substance abuse and make amends whenever possible. You may be familiar with the concept from attending meetings or taking part in 12-Step facilitation therapy during your rehabilitation treatment. Forgiveness for yourself and others is a significant part of the 12-Step approach to recovery. Sometimes you will need to repeat the process several times with the same person before you find common ground again. 

Psychology of Religion and Spirituality published a research paper that stated "forgiveness of others and forgiveness of self are each relevant to recovery" during substance use disorder treatment. Show yourself grace and, through your actions, prove to others that you have genuinely altered your behavior. The adage "actions speak louder than words" is essential to remember as you work to rebuild important relationships in your life. 

Be Honest About Your Sobriety

The best way to build healthy relationships is by using honest and open communication. However, that does not mean you should feel obligated to discuss everything about your personal life or recovery. While discussing the subject and clarifying your progress with friends and family can be helpful, you have every right to set boundaries and protect your privacy. Work with your therapist to find a healthy balance between sharing your journey and allowing others to take advantage of you. 

No matter how you choose to talk about your sobriety, be as honest and transparent as possible to whatever extent you feel comfortable. Clear communications cut down on confusion and potential misunderstandings. Most people respect the stark truth even when it is difficult to hear. Try not to sugarcoat or downplay your experiences. What you feel is valid, and the people you care about should be willing to accept where you are in your recovery. 

Respect Their Boundaries

Everyone's boundaries should be clearly stated, maintained, and respected when you work to regain people's trust. You may not like what they have to say, and people you love very dearly could choose to walk away from you forever. That is a decision you should respect, but there is always hope. As you continue to achieve greater goals in recovery, the people in your life will notice your dedication to sobriety. You may have to slowly work back to the same level of friendship you shared before the substance abuse interfered, but in the end, it is your choice to open up to them and allow them to give you a second chance. 

Take Action to Better Your Life

Your recovery should not hinge on the acceptance or validation of others. With the tools you learn at a rehabilitation facility like White House Recovery and Detox, you can create a healthy and stable life for yourself. People who sincerely love you will be encouraged by the actions you take to better yourself. Give them time to believe that your overtures of renewed friendship are trustworthy and sincere. You have already taken the most challenging step and reached out for help. Now you get to show your friends and family that you are capable of embracing long-term, healthy changes. 

Some concrete actions you can take to show others your dedication to continued sobriety include: 

  • Attending regular support group meetings
  • Attending regular individual therapy sessions
  • Getting tested regularly for substances
  • Taking personal and financial responsibility for yourself
  • Treating others with respect and consideration

Treatment for substance use disorder involves various forms of psychotherapy that provide insight, self-reflection, and a safe space for personal growth. Part of recovery includes mending relationships that may have been negatively affected by your past behaviors. Substance abuse can change how you think and act towards others, leading to tension in close relationships between friends and family. When you receive treatment and begin to heal, these rifts may become more evident. At White House Recovery and Detox, we believe in practicing self-forgiveness. You can show your loved ones that you have changed and express your dedication to living a sober life. No one else can take away the progress you have already made in your recovery. Reconnecting with people you value can increase your self-confidence and self-esteem. To learn more about the treatments and family support we offer to clients at White House Recovery and Detox, reach out by calling us at (800) 510-5393.