Relationships After Recovery
01/17/19: Addiction Recovery \ Relapse Prevention
When you decide to start a journey into sobriety, you are changing your life in more ways than you could imagine. It’s not just about kicking out bad habits, it’s also about segregating yourself from anything in life that enabled or influenced you to start your addition. One issue that people do not normally see when they start recovery is relationships with people close to them. Whether the former addict needs to say goodbye to one, or rebuild one, it’s vital that the person reevaluates their relationships with others.
Coming out of addiction, no relationship will be the same. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This could mean a relationship improves or is cut off entirely. The person’s addiction could have created tension in some relationships or caused some to grow closer. At the end of the day, a person in recovery should reevaluate their relationships and decide which ones to rebuild and which ones to cut off.
Relationships To Keep/Rebuild
One thing a person in recovery will need to do is revisit their past. Chances are, the addiction they suffered from may have damaged/affected already established relationships. You may have stopped talking to certain people or people may have stopped talking to you. It’s important to sit down with a counselor and discuss your past relationships, how your addiction affected them, and what you should do to rebuild them.
After analyzing what you could do to repair the broken relationship, start repairing! It’s important to use the right approach to these relationships since the people may hold some resentment towards you for your past decisions. Reiterating the fact that you are clean and sober might not be enough for them. In the past, your addiction was more than likely a shock to them and they may feel as though they’ve been lied to. They may even think you’re lying when you first tell them you are sober. This is why patience is key in recovery. Addiction isn’t fixed overnight, neither are relationships. With time and determination, those people will realize that you have truly changed and forgive you for your past decisions.
Building New Relationships
Not only should you rebuild broken relationships, consider building new ones that can help you on your journey in sobriety. Some of the best relationships you can create are with those who share similar struggles in the past. Befriending a former addict is great for someone in recovery because it allows them to find someone they can relate to. Finding someone to relate to can make you feel less lonely.
Though family members and friends may be supportive, they may not know how truly difficult your struggle with addiction was. People within the recovery community regularly get together to tell stories, help people relate, and eliminate any negative feelings. However, healthy relationships do not need to be limited to former addicts. Any kind of new relationship that helps you in your recovery process is encouraged.
Therapists and rehab centers encourage people in recovery to seek out new relationships that encourage and are supportive of their life in sobriety. Finding new relationships through work, service opportunities, churches, and other community gatherings is a great way to successfully live a sober life.
When you build and rebuild relationships, you need to next consider which relationships need to go. Getting rid of toxic relationships or any relationships that enabled your past behavior is vital for anyone trying to live a sober life.
Cutting Off Negative Relationships
We’ve discussed the ways to build and rebuild relationships, now we will discuss the more difficult part of relationships after recovery. One of the hardest things for a person in recovery to do is cut off relationships that hinder their sobriety. Whether these relationships caused or enabled their bad habits, they need to be cut off entirely to avoid any sort of relapse. These types of relationships can be a family member, a friend, or even a loved one. What we typically see is that these relationships either encourage a person’s addictive behaviors or cause them. Here are a couple examples: A person may have a friend that encourages them to drink more than they should. A significant other may be emotionally manipulative to the person, which may cause addictive behaviors. A family member may abuse the person which may result in substance abuse. These are just a few examples and they are all too common.
It may be difficult to cut these relationships off, but it will help you in the long run. If these relationships do not encourage or support your sobriety, they cannot benefit you. At the end of the day, these relationships are simply not worth it. If they cause you to relapse, there is no reason to keep them around if you want to live a sober life.
Which Relationships Are Good & Which Ones Are Bad?
Rebuilding a relationship may sound as easy as saying “sorry” and cutting a relationship off may sound as easy as saying “goodbye”. However, it’s not always that cut and dry for someone coming into recovery. It can be hard to tell which relationships were beneficial, detrimental, or neutral. Here are some main points to summarize:
- If the relationship has no effect on your sobriety, that is a neutral relationship and they can be kept.
- If the relationship encourages, enables, or causes any sort of addictive behaviors, that is a bad relationship and it should be cut off.
- If the relationship has been damaged because of your past behaviors, it may have been a good relationship and it should be rebuilt.
Going into sobriety, you need to reevaluate your relationships and decide which ones you should keep and which ones you should let go. Whether you’re cutting it off or rebuilding one, it’s never easy. Either way, those relationships will never be the same. But as we said earlier, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Relationships can be rebuilt, it just takes time. Lastly, if you are in recovery, consider making new relationships that are supportive of your new life decision. Follow these steps and you can properly begin a new life in sobriety.
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