A Guide to Rebuilding Relationships that were Damaged by Addiction

February 7, 2020

A drug or alcohol addiction can affect someone physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. Accordingly, it's not uncommon to experience broken relationships as a result of substance abuse. As with other areas of your life, rebuilding relationships is something you may need to address after beginning the recovery process. Likewise, if a loved one is in recovery you might be wondering if it is even possible to bond with that person again. With some hard work, severed relationships can be rebuilt, and the following information will help put you on the right track.

Accept Responsibility for your Actions

Think about what may have caused others to sever ties with you in the first place. Maybe your drug use resulted in personality changes that were simply too difficult to deal with. You may have even neglected someone because you were focusing too much on your habit. At any rate, knowing where you went wrong and being able to say "I'm sorry" is a challenging but necessary first step.Family members may sometimes need to accept responsibility for their actions as well. For example, you may have ignored the signs that your loved one was using, or did not provide adequate support when he or she reached out for help. You can't change the past, but letting someone know you recognize your shortcomings can often bring healing.

Reach Out

Reach out to the person you are wanting to reconnect with. Let that individual know you are sorry for your actions and would like to make amends. If possible, contact your loved one and ask to set up a meeting. Alternately, you might also ask a trusted friend or family member to contact the other person on your behalf.If you are on the outside, send a card or letter to your loved one in rehab. Mention that you would like to see him or her again, and talk about the possibility of a visit. Chances are that person will enjoy hearing from you and will therefore be eager to speak with you again.

Consider the Timing

You may have more luck if you time your outreach appropriately. For example, Valentine's Day and other holidays are a great time to try and rebuild relationships, especially with those you would normally spend time with on those days.Timing is especially important when someone is in rehab. They may already be feeling lonely, but may miss talking with you even more on holidays. In that case, they could also be more receptive to hearing from you.

Be Honest-but not too Honest

When talking with loved ones, it's important to be honest about your feelings. At the same time, you don't want to be too harsh or critical. Be direct in telling that person how his or her drug use has hurt you personally. But avoid accusing that person of never doing anything right or failing to measure up.Toxic relationships may have played a role in your drug use. If so, it's important to be forthcoming about how certain behavior might have contributed to your addiction. Even so, be sure you do not blame your habit entirely on that other person. Accept responsibility for your negative actions, regardless of how others may have encouraged them.

Have Realistic Expectations

Don't get discouraged if things do not return to normal right away. Remember the other person is also hurting and may need time to get used to the idea of being close to you again. He or she may also be taking a "wait and see" approach, particularly if you have a history of drug or alcohol relapse.Those in rehab have many issues they are trying to deal with. As such, don't be discouraged if you do not receive a response from your loved one right away. Individuals often much reach a certain point in their recovery before they can begin thinking about rebuilding old relationships again.Rebuilding broken relationships is sometimes a slow process, even when they do not involve drug or alcohol use. So long as you notice slow but steady improvement, you should continue to exercise patience. Remember that it can sometimes take months or even years for things to get back to normal again.

Rebuild Trust

To maintain their habit, drug users often lie, cheat, steal, or perform other illicit acts. Maybe you too have done things you are now ashamed of doing and are wondering if you can ever earn people's trust again. Recognize that this is not an easy process, but instead is something that will take lots of hard work. Even after saying "I'm sorry", others will continue to judge you by what you do rather than what you say you are going to do.Begin by earning trust in small areas. One way you can do this is to make small promises, such as agreeing to a meeting or offering to help someone with little tasks. Once people see that you can be trusted with tiny things, they will then feel more comfortable trusting you with bigger ones. So be sure you can keep your word, and do not make any promises unless you are absolutely sure you will not break them.If you are the family member of someone suffering from addiction, you must be willing to allow that person to regain your trust. This of course is very frightening because it means you must open yourself up to being hurt again. Establish clear boundaries and do not accept empty promises. Depending on the circumstances, you may even need to let your loved one know there will be certain consequences if he or she fails to follow through.Rebuilding torn relationships can be challenging and rewarding all at the same time. Achieving success in this area can also equate to long-term success when it comes to getting and staying sober. Here at Last Resort Recovery, our goal is to help you find freedom from substance addiction and how to find balance in your life. If you or a loved one needs help overcoming addiction, please contact us today.

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