Addiction affects 46% of all families in the United States.¹ Substance use disorders don’t only impact the person suffering from them. They can damage all types of relationships and make regaining trust between family members feel like an insurmountable hurdle. Repairing relationships after addiction is possible, however.
Learn more about how to address the challenges that addiction can cause in your relationships.
How Substance Use Disorders Affect Relationships
One of the first things that addiction erodes is trust. To sustain a substance use disorder, people often have to lie about their substance use. Someone with an addiction will try to hide the problem for as long as possible. When the truth finally comes out, their loved ones may feel like they can never trust the person again.
Addiction causes a high level of stress for the entire family unit. It can lead to financial hardships as well. The person dealing with the addiction may do everything possible to obtain drugs or alcohol, even if it means stealing from their loved ones or spending money they need for rent, food, or medical care.
Financial issues affect not only the adults but the children, too, as they can quickly pick up on their parent’s stress levels and face problems like bullying from their peers.²
Addiction causes behavioral changes and impacts brain chemistry, so someone with a substance use disorder can behave toward others in ways that they would not otherwise do. Some drugs, like cocaine, can cause paranoia and lead to violence.³
Although those most affected will be those who live with someone with a substance use disorder, friends can also find it difficult to trust once again. The person with the substance use disorder will likely have tried to get money from everyone around them to sustain their addiction, so even casual acquaintances can be affected.
Finding Relationship Equilibrium During Early Sobriety
Repairing relationships after addiction requires the full cooperation of the person with the substance use disorder and their loved ones. By understanding addiction and knowing what steps to take, you, your family, and your friends can find the right balance again.
Be Ready for Resistance
If you have gone through a treatment program, you likely understand what has caused your addiction and why you behaved the way you did. You may be ready to move forward and focus on the future instead of your past actions. That is not always the case with those around you.
You may have caused significant harm with your actions that require you to give your loved ones more time. Your family and friends may have resentments that can flare up during arguments. You will want to address this by validating their feelings and avoiding minimizing their experiences.
Be Honest with Yourself and Others
The only way to truly heal the relationships addiction has affected is to be direct and honest about all of your actions and behaviors. Don’t flinch away from difficult conversations with your loved ones, and own your part in the relationship problems.
Stay Focused on Attending Meetings
One of the best ways to show your loved ones that you are dedicated to rebuilding relationships is to continue making strides in your recovery. Go to meetings, attend therapy sessions, and do everything else you can do to reassure them that you are healing.
If you’re struggling with sobriety, you cannot offer the attention necessary for fixing a relationship. It’s like putting on an oxygen mask in an airplane; you can’t help others until you first help yourself.
Learn Healthy Communication Skills
Communication is essential when trying to repair a relationship, but not knowing how to speak with loved ones in healthier ways can aggravate the problem. Most recovery centers and addiction treatment programs offer tips on communicating effectively with loved ones.
Some of the things you want to remember when speaking with a loved one are:
- Keep it brief but specific
- Listen to your loved one
- Consider your body language (i.e., maintain eye contact)
- Think through what you’re about to say
Even if the conversation brings on powerful feelings, avoid accusations and accept what the other person feels. Learning to deal with conflicts during conversations helps you start fixing the relationship and makes it less likely that you will feel the need to turn to drugs or alcohol to manage stress.
Don’t Be Afraid to End Unhealthy Relationships
Not every relationship you have can offer the support you need to lead a happier and healthier life. You may have bonded with people who have active addictions, or you may have codependent relationships that negatively affect you. Ending these kinds of relationships can help you stay focused on your sobriety.
Get Started Repairing Relationships After Addiction
Addiction is a complex adversary and one that you will need help battling. If your support system has been damaged, begin the repair process with honesty and openness.
At Silver Sands Recovery, we offer the guidance you and your loved ones need to start healing from addiction. With our varied options, we can help you and your friends and family learn to fix what addiction has damaged.
Call Silver Sands Recovery to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.
About the author:
Lisa Waknin is the Founder and Director of Silver Sands Recovery, located in Prescott, Arizona. Lisa started Silver Sands Recovery after immersing herself in the addiction treatment world for several years to figure out what could be done differently to help her daughter and others like her to overcome addiction and stay sober. She believes in a hands-on treatment approach, which includes taking someone out of their environment, providing a 90-day program in a structured environment. During treatment, clients not only recover physically but also learn to live their life again. Lisa is a sought-after expert speaker for recovery support groups, charities, schools, communities, and companies wanting to educate themselves on the explosion of opiate and heroin abuse in our country and the best way to understand, treat, and beat it.