Most people know that addiction damages the physical body and hijacks the brain. But addiction can hurt relationships, too. You can lose years of trust through uncontrolled substance use, making even the strongest relationships fragile. Luckily, most addiction recovery programs also address the relationships in your life. Addiction recovery can teach you healthy communication skills, help you better manage your emotions, and point out some of your own manipulative behaviors and beliefs. As you work through these challenges, you’ll be better equipped to mend relationships affected by addiction, maintain the healthy relationships you have, and build new, sober relationships, as well.
Why Healthy Relationships Matter in Recovery
Relationships are an important part of life. When you’re closely connected to another person, you tend to feel safe, valued, loved, wanted, desired, and secure. The healthiest relationships allow you to be honest and vulnerable about your struggles while holding you accountable for the goals and values you’ve set for yourself, as well.
These strong and healthy relationships can become especially important when you’re recovering from addiction challenges. As exciting as the recovery journey is, the process can also feel overwhelming, stressful, and even impossible at times. Whenever you’re grappling with frustrating emotions or feel engulfed by the belief that you need to “change your entire life,” healthy relationships can provide you with the support you need while helping you maintain your sobriety. Having a close-knit group of friends and supportive family members can also lower your risk of relapse.
Like everything good thing in life, however, you have to work to maintain those relationships. We’ve put together a few tips to help you maintain healthy relationships while you’re recovering from addiction.
How To Maintain Relationships During Recovery
Mending and maintaining your relationships may be one of your earliest goals during recovery. But you need to understand that rebuilding relationships takes time and preserving them takes a considerable amount of effort. When you’re in treatment, you’ll need to look at yourself with honest eyes, learn how to communicate and handle your emotions appropriately, master a healthy level of vulnerability, and find practical ways to start rebuilding trust in your relationships. Once you’ve completed a recovery program, you’ll need to think about how you want to talk about your addiction struggles with the people you care about, rebuild lost trust, apply the communication skills you learned in therapy, and plan regular sober activities with your family and friends.
Maintaining Relationships While In Treatment
Addiction recovery is a rewarding opportunity to heal, restore, and begin again. Addiction recovery is also a wonderful time to reevaluate the relationships in your life. Treatment, therapy, and individual and group counseling sessions can help you maintain healthy relationships by:
- Making you aware of your own shortcomings and character flaws. The very nature of the word relationship implies a connection between two or more concepts, objects, or people. As such, one of the primary steps you can take to preserve the relationships in your life is to become aware of your own flaws. That doesn’t mean that you need to take all the blame in the relationship, but you do need to own your imperfections. If addiction challenges have helped you develop manipulative, deceptive, and dishonest habits, you need to work through those character flaws with your counselor.
- Encouraging you to be honest. Addiction recovery treatment may also encourage you to be honest. Addiction can easily break down the trust and honesty in a relationship, but therapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help shift your way of thinking, which, in turn, can make it easier for you to avoid the impulse to lie, manipulate, and deceive. As you become accustomed to telling the truth in therapy and seeing positive changes in your life, you may feel encouraged to be honest with your family and friends, as well. Telling the truth, even when it’s difficult, can help you maintain some of your most important relationships.
- Teaching you good communication skills. Relationships thrive on communication. Whether you’re talking on the phone, texting, emailing, video chatting, or grabbing a bite to eat together, you’re communicating with your friends and family. Poor, harsh, dishonest, or apathetic communication can put an unhealthy strain on relationships. Miscommunication hurts and frustrates others. Luckily, addiction recovery activities like counseling and peer group support can help you develop communication skills that will preserve the health of your relationships.
- Helping you develop healthy ways of managing your emotions. Relationships can get tense from time to time. If you’re looking to preserve the healthy connections in your life, you’ll need to know how to handle your emotions in a way that doesn’t disturb, wound, or damage your relationships. Luckily, dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is often used in addiction recovery and focuses on dealing with difficult emotions in a healthy way. As you learn healthy strategies to regulate your emotions, you’re less likely to have intense emotional outbursts that may weaken your relationships.
- Showing you how to be open and vulnerable. Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction requires you to open up and be vulnerable. To help, counselors create a safe space for you to acknowledge, admit, and address toxic behavior and thought patterns. You’re encouraged to share your addiction struggles with others in peer groups and counseling sessions. Even though it may be hard for you to open up, learning to be vulnerable can help you maintain authentic relationships outside of treatment, too.
- Providing you the opportunity to reach out to your friends and family members. During addiction recovery, your therapist might ask you to journal about different topics, situations, or people. This is a great way to express how you feel, but you can also write letters or other messages to your loved ones and the people that you care about. You can use these letters to jumpstart the conversations that you need to have with family and friends. Talking things out is a wonderful way to mend broken relationships and maintain healthy bonds with the people that you love.
Maintaining Relationships After Completing Rehab
Addiction treatment can help you maintain relationships during your enrollment, but you’ll need the support of healthy relationships after you complete an addiction recovery program, as well. So after you complete a recovery program, you need to:
- Decide how you want to talk to your family and friends about your addiction challenges
- Continue to be honest and authentic in your relationships
- Rebuild lost trust by telling the truth and being open and vulnerable
- Apply the communication skills you learned in treatment and keep a check on how you’re managing your emotions
- Plan regular sober activities with your family and friends and invite them to sober activities you enjoy or plan on attending
Let Us Help You Recover & Maintain Healthy Relationships
Here at Meta Addiction Treatment, we empower our clients to take charge of their recovery. We do that by offering three different outpatient addiction treatment programs that focus on life, behavioral, and communication skills that can help you gain the independence you want while providing you the support you need.
You don’t have to live a life controlled by addiction and settle for subpar relationships. With the proper treatment and aftercare support, you can overcome addiction challenges. You can also mend, restore, maintain, and build healthy relationships based on trust, authenticity, and honesty.
Let us help you get there. Contact us today at (978) 776-3206 if you or a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction or want to learn more about our effective, but flexible treatment programs.