Repairing relationships in recovery

How to Repair Relationships After Addiction

Some say that it is the relationships that we foster with each other that are the very fabric that makes us human. Without a doubt, our relationships can be the difference between misery and happiness. Our relationships have the potential to bring us great joy, but they also have the potential to bring us great sadness as well. Throughout life, we will likely encounter a variety of relationships, and our success or lack there-of in them will often be a key player in our happiness at any given time.

What Recovering Addicts can Do to Repair Their Relationships

When a person gets off of drugs and alcohol, going to a treatment center sometimes feels like the only thing they must do, the “big move” so to speak, to get one away from drugs and alcohol and into a sober life. Sometimes it feels like all one has to do to make lasting change is to go to rehab, and that’s that. The concept here is that going to rehab is a magical, push-button fix for removing all traces of addiction from the person’s life.

This is not the case.

In fact, a better representation would be to say that going to rehab is actually just the first step in one’s road to recovery. Going to a treatment center and getting clean is an impressive first step, yes, but that’s really all it is. A first step. There’s still a lot of work to be done, a life to rebuild, a future to recreate, and relationships to repair.

Over the course of one’s time spent using drugs and alcohol, it’s pretty likely that they will have burned some bridges and created some pretty significant problems with their family members and loved ones. These relationships should be repaired.Here are some tips and advice for doing just that:

  • Bring good things into the lives of those who you love. A recovering addict is someone who probably brought a great deal of hardship into the lives of his or her family members or loved ones. In repairing those relationships, instead bring help, good deeds, care, love, gifts, assistance, and your own time even as an offering of reparation and peace.
  • Listen more, speak less. The family members and loved ones of recovering addicts likely spent a lot of time observing and not speaking, watching in misery as their loved one destroyed his or her life. Now while in recovery, let the family say anything and everything that they need to say. It might be painful to hear at first, but it needs to be said, it needs to be heard.
  • Give it time. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, and neither does the repair of harmed and damaged relationships. Too many recovering addicts come out of treatment, expecting their families to go back to the way things were beforeaddiction came into their lives. It usually takes more time than that. Give it that time, and let the healing process take its natural course.

That is nowhere near a complete list of all of the strategies and techniques that a family could employ to repair the damaged relationships that they might have with their family members and loved ones. There is much more that they could do in this arena, and as every situation will be different, the above bits of advice can always be tweaked to fit anyone’s unique situation.

What the Family Members and Loved Ones can Do to Repair Relationships

Everything in life and in relationships is a two-way street. There is no one-way side to this. When we have a family member or loved one who manages to overcome their drug or alcohol habit, the focus here should be on repairing that relationship and on doing whatever we need to do to remedy and rebuild that relationship. Not only does this help aid the recovering addict in building stability and peace of mind, but it also helps the entire family rebuild, as a family.

For those of us with a family member or loved one who is in recovery, here are some pieces of advice on what we can do to repair that relationship:

  • Be there. That’s the most important thing the family can do, right off the bat.A recovering addict will still need help and will still need support in their recovery journey, but they are not likely to ask for it on their own. This is because they are likely to feel guilty. Being there for them, and offering your time and energy to them, even after all the drama of their addiction, is the best thing that you can do to repair that relationship.
  • Don’t be judgemental or authoritarian, be very encouraging of the correct actions that he/she is doing; like finding a job, being in early every night, joining in family activities, remaining sober, etc. but at the same time do not tolerate bad habits (see 2 below “Set clear boundaries”) but use caring discipline to bring them back to the straight and narrow if they do something like skip school or work, come in late, go out of communication with you, etc. Good communication is and always will be the key tool we have in maintaining sobriety.
  • Set clear boundaries. When a person is in recovery, it’s important to support them, but not to mollycoddle them. Part of recovery is about recovering oneself as a self-sufficient and responsible adult. We have to make sure to repair the relationship, but we don’t want to be the ones doing all of the work to do so.It’s a two way street after all. The recoverying addict needs boundaries set by others until he demonstrates he/she knows how to set and abide by, healthy boundaries of their own creations. Every group or family has rules for a group or family member and the recovering addict must abide by these rules, just like any other group/family member.
  • Involve the recovering family member or loved one in ongoing care and support. The single most important thing for any recovering addict to think with is that they continue working on themselves once they get out of rehab and that they make a concerted effort to maintain sobriety through self-improvement and self-care. Aftercare, ongoing education, life skills courses, volunteer work, anything that helps the person grow is what will ultimately lead to a successful and relapse-free experience. This is the best way to foster an environment where relationships can be repaired successfully.

That’s just a quick look at what the family members and loved ones of recovering addicts can do on their part, to repair the relationship and to bring the family unit back together again. There are certainly many variations of the above advice, all of which are absolutely customizable to fit with each family’s unique situation.

The important thing to remember is that everyone in the family, (the individual in recovery and everyone else), everyone needs to do their best to heal. This needs to happen so that they can repair their relationships with each other, and so that life can continue and the family unit can operate well once again.

Building a Better Future Together

Getting off of drugs and alcohol is a team effort. The more loved ones, family members, and supporters one has in this, the better off they will be. This isn’t to say that it is impossible to beat a drug habit on one’s own, but it is to say that getting off of drugs and alcohol and staying off of drugs and alcohol is much easier when one has help in doing so.

No matter the hardship that has been done by those who we love, and no matter the damage that we ourselves have caused, repairing those relationships is always possible, as long as it is what all parties present want to do. It is not an overnight process, it may take a while, but it would be time well spent. Do not rush it, Let (and make) it happen. That is the key. And believe me, it is worth it in the long run. Life has so much more to offer to all of us if we can cherish our loved ones and foster good relationships with them.


Clinical Review by Claire Pinelli, LADC, CCS, ICAADC, MCAP

Relationships in Aftercare: Repairing, Creating, and Eliminating

For many people in recovery, aftercare represents an exciting (if cautious) beginning, a fresh chance at life after the ordeal of addiction. One of the most important topics in this second chance is the question of relationships, both intimate and platonic, casual and romantic. Relationships in aftercare require a lot of different kinds of work; some must be repaired, some have to be created, and some should be eliminated.

The Importance of Relationships

When a person goes through addiction recovery, it entails taking a full inventory (and, if necessary, an overhaul) of their life. A counselor will turn over every stone to see what parts of the client’s past played into the substance abuse and/or mental health problems, and how those parts should be addressed to safeguard a long-lasting and robust recovery.

Having healthy interpersonal relationships is a big component of a secure post-addiction life. A psychology professor noted that the “enormous importance” of relationships should come as no surprise, noting that much research confirms “the biological processes that account for the link between relationships and health.” The right number of relationships, in the right proportions, leads to improved mental health, a better immune system, and improved outlook and wellbeing. As Psychology Today puts it, “other people are the key to our happiness.”

Relationships are fundamentally important in life, and they are no less important in recovery and aftercare. They may be even more important for a person recovering from addiction because the mechanics of relating to other people, understanding other people, and conducting behavior appropriately based on that understanding can dictate much of the person’s progress in recovery and the effectiveness of relapse prevention strategies. Developing a reliable and trustworthy network of friends, a smaller circle of close friends, and perhaps a significant other can be a painstaking process for a person in aftercare. It is not as easy as going out to a bar, meeting people at a club, or making connections through dealers and sellers. But cultivating and investing in the right kinds of relationships is a huge step in creating a fulfilling and rewarding life in recovery.

Repairing a Close Relationship

One of the most important processes in recovery is taking a life inventory, where you account for everything that can either assist you or impede you in your recovery. This includes the people you know: friends, acquaintances, social connections, former romantic and/or sexual partners, and even family members. Each person who fits into one or more of these categories was affected by your past substance abuse; they were either emotionally or physically hurt by your addiction, or they contributed to your addiction. Moving forward, everything will be different, and you will have to address these changes in order to put the past behind you.

When it comes to repairing relationships in aftercare, the closer a person is to you, the harder the reconciliation tends to be. Addiction is often the catalyst for many marriages or long-term relationships to come to an end. A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 48 percent of people who had past or current alcoholism were divorced at some point in their lives, and couples struggling with addiction issues are four times more likely to separate than couples where no such issues are present.

If you are looking to repair a relationship with a spouse or a serious romantic partner, the issue has to be approached carefully. It is unlikely that you will be able to simply resume the relationship you had before the substance abuse took hold. Your therapist will teach you that the anger, hurt, and betrayal of an addiction cannot be changed or forgotten, and you will not be able to fall back on drinking or getting high when the stress of rebuilding an emotional connection becomes too much.

However, it is possible to create a new relationship from the shadow of the old one; and with what you’ve learned about yourself in recovery, the new relationship can be based on a much stronger foundation of communication, honesty, support, and respect than the old one was. This will not come easily, and it will be very frustrating for both partners. Each will have to work very hard and be very patient, individually and together, with one another. Recovery is a complicated process in and of itself, and a writer at Vice notes that trying to find the compromise between one partner being sober and the other one still a drinker – even a social, moderate drinker – “can threaten to destroy your relationship.”

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Doing It Together

For this reason, it is often a good idea for both parties to attend therapy sessions together. The solidarity goes a long way in repairing the relationship, and it will give your partner a chance to understand the reality of the situation from your perspective. This may even extend to both partners entering couples therapy to resolve any issues regarding problems in the relationship that caused, and are caused by, the substance abuse and subsequent recovery. Many people, for example, are unaware that addiction is a disease that affects the functioning of the brain and the person’s ability to make good decisions. Attending therapy and counseling sessions together will allow your partner to see how your mental health problems influenced not just your substance abuse, but also other behavioral issues that made the relationship difficult.

The crux is that repairing the relationship is not about assigning blame. Instead, it should be about healing and accepting. It is not easy for a person who has suffered at the hands of an addict to do this, and if your partner is committed to making the relationship work, it will take a lot of sacrifice and hard work from them to get to this point.

Sex is a big part of any serious relationship, and physical intimacy will have to be addressed on its own terms during recovery. The use of drugs or alcohol in a relationship can compromise both emotional and physical trust, as the addicted partner will struggle to perform sexually and may take out those frustrations in the form of increased substance abuse, mood swings, and various forms of abuse (verbal, physical, or emotional). In 2011, the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry reported that 106 fathers who were in treatment for methadone addiction tended to be more aggressive toward their partners (either physically, sexually, psychologically, or some combination thereof) compared to men in a control group who had no addiction to opiates.

For this reason, it may take a long time, and a lot of work, until both partners in the relationship are ready to attempt physically intimacy with each other. Talking about sex is never easy even with a partner; to talk about sex with a therapist is no easier, especially if there are issues that complicate sexual communication and trust within the relationship. This can be one of the most difficult things for a person in recovery to work on, which is why recovery counselors advise giving sex time.

Human sexuality is a vastly complicated and nuanced field, and it can be made even more fraught by substance abuse. Repairing the damage has to come slowly and naturally; your therapist might suggest that you not even consider the subject of sex until you are at a better stage of your recovery. This can be frustrating and not what you imagined recovery to be like, but it is the reality of rebuilding your life, including your love life and your sex life, in the aftermath of an addiction.

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Repairing Trust among Friends

Romantic relationships aren’t the only ones that need to be addressed in recovery. One of the most difficult things that you will have to accept, is that your friends and loved ones will have no reason to trust you, even though you are in aftercare. Your addiction has meant that you have used every conceivable form of deception on them to continue your habit, and even though you are sober and ready to start life anew, they remember all too well the lies and the duplicity they heard and saw in you. Psych Central notes that there is no deadline or timeline for the trust to be re-established – it takes “as long as it takes.” For some people, this could last years; for others, it may not come fully; and for some, it might not come at all. You will have to accept your friends and loved ones for wherever they fall (and move) on this spectrum.

Creating New Friendships

Recovery allows you to become very intentional about the kind of people you spend your time with. Your friendships are no longer determined and driven by access to (and use of) drugs or alcohol. This may mean that some of the people you know are no longer compatible with your new sober lifestyle. If the dominant dynamic of your connection to such people revolves around getting drunk or high then you will likely have to end those friendships.

As difficult as that is, being sober does not have to mean being alone. In fact, quite the opposite. Your sobriety allows you to engage with other sober people: people who abstain from alcohol/drug use for personal reasons and, with time, moderate drinkers. When you are in aftercare, your recovery sponsor can help you find groups and organizations that bring sober people together, for safe and healthy events like hikes, movies, games, sports, and other activities. The idea behind this is to reintroduce the idea that “fun” does not have to be synonymous with “drunk” or “high.” There are myriad connections to be made with interesting people without the pressure or expectation of having to drink or get high for the time spent together to be worth it.

For example, some bars offer “booze-free nights,” as a way for people to socialize and mingle without the temptation of alcohol. While the nightclub scene has long been considered a hotbed for substance abuse, the rise of sober raves has given people in aftercare (or people looking to have a good time without the pressure of alcohol) a place where they can dance, enjoy music, and other people’s company without jeopardizing their sobriety.

For some people (those who are still in the early stages of their recovery or those who are coming off a particularly chronic substance abuse problem), being in places that bring back memories of the days of drinking and drug use might be too close to a relapse trigger. So, while some people will be ready to re-enter a bar (even on a booze-free night), others might struggle to keep their impulses in check. By keeping your recovery sponsor and coach in the loop about your social life, you will get the necessary feedback and guidance to know where your boundaries are and if you are straying too close to them.

A safer way to build new connections is to seek out some volunteer opportunities. Engaging in community service gives sober individuals a sense of purpose and direction in the early periods of recovery. Volunteering in places like homeless shelters and food banks offers people a chance to give back to their local communities. For those who wrestle with feelings of guilt or shame as a result of their addiction, being selfless is a form of atonement.

Additionally, if you give of your time and energy at a local nonprofit, you will come into contact with people who have similar priorities and who can help you work toward yours. Some of the people who volunteer at local organizations are former substance abusers themselves, on their own journey of redemption. Building a positive network with such people, and others who give back to their communities without asking for anything in return, is a great way to create new friendships in aftercare. Not for nothing does Addiction Professional magazine call volunteering “a cornerstone of recovery.”

Eliminating Enablers

Unfortunately, there are some relationships that cannot, and should not, continue into the aftercare stage. People who you primarily associate with your addictions, whether they be drinking buddies, dealers, or people who otherwise encouraged the substance abuse, may not fit into the recovery paradigm you have worked so hard at creating. When you put your self-destructive habits behind you, everything in your new life has to be conducive to maintaining your sobriety and preventing relapse. For this reason, people who cannot support the new and better you will not make the cut.

According to Psych Central, an enabler is defined as a person who “removes the natural consequences to the addict of his or her behavior.” Enabling takes many forms: encouraging a drinker to keep taking shots instead of trying to cut them off, or giving money for drugs (out of pity or misguided concern) instead of trying to steer the addict toward treatment. Enablers often do not understand that addiction is a mental disease, and their own behavior suggests that they do not know how to stop enabling.

This is why being around enablers is very dangerous for people in recovery. Potential relapse triggers are landmines, begging a newly sober person to step on them. If an enabler does not know how to stop enabling, they will blithely pressure you to resume your drinking or drug use, unaware or uncaring of how your mental state needs time to heal. If you are having a bad day, for example, an enabler might give you money to call up your old dealer instead of helping you in more productive ways.

Choosing Your Friends Wisely

Not all enablers are malicious saboteurs, but if they cannot change their behavior to support you, then you will have to leave them behind. This can be one of the most difficult parts of addiction recovery, but it is a necessary sacrifice to make. The alternative is to allow constant reminders and temptations of your addiction to take up residence in your new life.
To this end, your recovery coach will help you prepare to have some tough conversations. It will not be enough to simply ignore invitations to bars, clubs, or parties where you know alcohol or drugs will be present. As a new person, you will have to draw a clear line in the sand and let your former enablers know that you will not cross that line under any circumstances. It will not be easy to plant this flag, so you will have to tell your recovery coach the details about your relationships with these people, and they will help you prepare what to say. But you will have to be the one who makes the phone call or writes the letter to the enablers. If they are truly supportive of your recovery, they will refrain from doing or saying things that undermine your journey. If they are unwilling to grow with you, then you know that they never really cared about you, but instead cared only about using you for their own pleasure and impulses.

Eliminating certain relationships in aftercare is not easy, but going through with it means that you will have created a better sense of security for your recovery. Importantly, the people who remain in your life after this process are people who are there because they really do care about you, and this will bode very well for the rest of your recovery. Indeed, the British Journal of Social Psychology wrote that “breaking ties with social groups may be good recovery from substance misuse,” noting that transitioning from a social identity defined by substance use to an identity defined by recovery, “constitutes an important step in substance abuse treatment.”

The Struggle of Sobriety

The reality of cutting unsupportive people out of your post-addiction life is that you might feel guilty, lonely, or any number of other emotions. You will remember the good and fun times, and the temptation to call them up for one more binge or one last night out will be strong. This is where having a strong aftercare network comes into play. Your sponsors, coaches, and friends will remind you that your past life was not all excitement and thrills. The reason you cut those people out of your life is because when your substance abuse took its toll for you, they were not there to help. Instead, they encouraged you to keep drinking and using drugs, or they abandoned you.

The feelings of guilt and regret over taking such a drastic step will be strong, and your recovery coach will help you prepare for that. You should have some coping mechanisms at the ready for the second-guessing, such as having a sponsor on speed dial or a social activity planned with people who really care about your mental and emotional wellbeing, people who don’t need alcohol or drugs to enjoy your company.

The Importance of Forgiveness

Whatever relationships you look to have in recovery, and however you want to go about establishing and maintaining those relationships, forgiveness will be a big driver in your approach. Behind every healthy relationship is forgiveness, says The Huffington Post. While this is certainly true in relationships that have not been harmed by substance abuse, it assumes even bigger proportions in making amends, and letting go, of relationships that have suffered in that way.

This is especially true in the event that a relationship has to end, whether that relationship is a casual acquaintanceship or a serious romantic/sexual interest. The decision to eliminate someone from your life is never an easy one, and even if the choice is clear – if it is generally understood that this person will not support your recovery – you will have to forgive yourself, and them, for the relationship becoming untenable. Forgiveness is the releasing of resentment, and by absolving yourself and the other party of guilt and blame, you are free to move on with your recovery.

It is important to note that you are never alone in this process. Aftercare groups, like various 12-Step programs, are full of people who have been down this road before and who take the responsibility of mentoring a person in recovery very seriously. Dealing with the emotional burden of an addiction is not something that should be attempted alone. Having a therapist, a recovery coach, a sponsor, and a circle of close friends, who can provide reliable advice, accountability, and simple companionship, is what makes the sacrifice of recovery possible and worthwhile.

Finding Love in Aftercare

Many people ask when it is a good time to consider the idea of dating in recovery. The need to love and be loved is part of us what makes us human; and coming out of addiction treatment, finding a special connection with someone who understands this is can be a goal in and of itself. Much of what is covered in therapy is about helping you find yourself, and when you have a good idea of who you are, you might want to share that with someone.

As natural as that impulse is, the first year of recovery is often a very tumultuous year for people; they must balance the enthusiasm and energy of sobriety with relearning their boundaries and limitations. For this reason, many recovery coaches advise against making significant life changes in that first 12 months of recovery: no fulltime work or school commitments and, crucially, no romantic or sexual relationships. Denying yourself a significant other for an entire year can seem cruel, especially after recovery makes you feel invigorated and alive, but it is in the best interest of your long-term recovery.

An active aftercare support network will tell you when you are ready to start dating, but even this requires a lot of thought and preparation. Your recovery coach might work with you on creating a dating plan where you identify positive and healthy goals for yourself and what you are looking for in a partner. Creating a dating plan might seem like a mundane chore in the face of the excitement and thrill of finding a special someone, but it will also help you identify and clarify the red flags that an unsuitable match might bring to the table.

Some ideas of what could go into the plan include:

  • Not dating a person who does not have a steady job
  • Not dating a person who currently uses drugs or drinks regularly (for some, even moderate or infrequent drinking of a partner might be too much of a relapse trigger)
  • Not dating a person who only wants sex or otherwise has no interest in your emotional wellbeing
  • Looking for a partner who is willing to attend therapy sessions together
  • Looking for a partner who understands that sobriety and recovery have to come first in the relationship
  • Understanding that the partner may have conflicted feelings about coming second after sobriety and recovery, and that this may or may not be a dealbreaker for the partner

Dating is complicated, and in recovery, the baggage becomes a bit heavier. This is not a bad thing; there are many potential partners who appreciate the levelheadedness and maturity that come with having a significant other in recovery. But since dating is complicated by itself, this does not mean that love in recovery is a sure bet. Progress will have to be slow, often painstaking, and the reality of dating in recovery can feel like a burden to either member of the relationship.

But as with any relationship, honesty and open communication will go a long way in getting over the bumps. If both partners are on the same page with the responsibilities and sacrifices of recovery then the union is in good hands.

Any kind of relationship in aftercare needs work. Whether you are looking to repair old friendships, eliminate toxic connections, or create a special bond with another person, the key is to give it time. Recovery changes everything, both for you and for the people in your life. It may take a while for wounds to heal and bridges to be rebuilt; it may take a while until you are ready to open your heart to someone new. But if you spend some time focusing on yourself, and investing in your aftercare support network, then the relationships you cultivate in recovery will help you enjoy your new life to its fullest potential.

Rebuilding Relationships in Early Recovery

It is no secret that drug or alcohol addiction can damage the body and impair the mind. The good news is that with proper medical treatment, counseling and stopping use, these wounds heal over time. However, the damage that addiction causes to important relationships is enormous and very hard to restore.

James had been through a treatment program for alcoholism and was in his third month of sobriety. One night after dinner James put on his coat and announced to his wife, “I’m going to get some cigarettes.” Before the door closed behind him he heard his wife scream, “Not again!” Startled and confused, James hurried back inside to find out what was wrong.

James’ wife was reacting the same way she had reacted a thousand times before when her husband “went out for cigarettes.” In her mind, there was no question what this meant—James was going to a bar to get drunk and she wouldn’t see him until 2 a.m.

Even though James was working hard at recovery, and was just going out for cigarettes, his wife didn’t trust him—and she shouldn’t.

The irony of addictive disease is that those closest to the person with the addiction suffer tremendously. It’s horrifying to watch someone you care about self-destruct. Crippled by fear, anger and overwhelming grief, families and friends either stay helplessly entangled in the addict’s illness, trying to control the uncontrollable, or they separate emotionally. Either way, the relationship may be damaged—sometimes beyond repair.

How Can I Learn to Trust Again?

Those who have been hurt as a result of addiction have no reason to trust the addicted person. Although early recovery restores hope, re-establishing trust is not so easy. It requires two things:

  1. First, the addicted person has to stop using drugs or alcohol and change her bad behavior.
  2. The second factor is time. How much time? As long as it takes.

Remember, trust is not the same as love or forgiveness. You can love and forgive someone without trusting. For example, it is one thing to forgive an apologetic jewel thief and quite another thing to leave him alone in a jewelry store. Likewise, you can forgive a person recovering from alcoholism who asks for forgiveness. But it takes time, honesty, good choices and continued sobriety to regain trust.

Learning to Forgive

Forgiveness is not a mental exercise. Rather it is a determined change of heart by those who have been hurt. It means not letting resentments steal your peace or rob your future. Forgiveness is not a natural thing to do. It is very hard, but it is the only thing that releases others from their shame and restores the possibility of trust and intimacy.

Restoring a wounded relationship is like trying to take down a large brick wall separating those with whom we were once close. No matter how hard you try, it won’t come down all at once. Be patient. Good recovery allows you to remove only a few bricks each day. Over time, there will be a hole in the wall large enough to talk through without shouting. After a while the opening will be large enough to reach a hand through and offer a loving touch. One day, trust is restored and the wall disappears.

Rebuilding Relationships in Early Recovery

Why come for treatment at Ibiza Calm?

We fully appreciate that when clients leave our rehab in Spain, they will require ongoing support. Each client leaves with an aftercare plan. In addition, we also offer aftercare sessions in both Ibiza and London. We are the only licensed rehab centre in Ibiza and our residential rehab clinic is regarded as being one of the best in Europe. Treatment takes place in an idyllic setting amongst eight acres of private land that supports and nurtures individuals to overcome the stresses associated with recovery from addiction.

At our residential treatment centre, we treat clients from all walks of life. Many of those who come to us require alcohol and drug detox and are experiencing physical problems and are generally finding it difficult to cope. The role that we play is to help our clients take the first steps on the process of physical, emotional and mental recovery in beautiful surroundings. Everyone is treated with dignity, care and understanding.

Our alcohol rehab in Spain, drug rehab in Spain is run by our highly qualified team that offer treatment in both English and Spanish. If you would like more information about our services we would like to invite you to call us on +34 664 443 433, +44 203 868 5710, email us on [email protected] or [email protected] Alternatively, you can contact us direct via our website. All correspondence is treated in the strictest of confidence. We look forward to helping you or a loved make the first steps on the road to recovery.

Rebuilding Relationships with Your Children After a Drug Addiction

Everyone wants to be the best parent that they possibly can. Unfortunately, hiccups happen along the way that can make parenting difficult. One situation that can take a huge toll on the relationship that you have with your child is addiction.

There are times when people get into an accident or have a surgery that leaves them in a lot of pain. The doctors prescribe pain pills and you may become addicted to them accidentally because you simply want to be able to live a life that is pain-free.

When drug addiction occurs, it becomes encompassing and can quickly cause you to neglect other important factors in your life, including providing your children with the love and support that they need. Many children don’t understand what an addiction is and even if they are older now, there is still a good chance that they feel that you picked the drugs over them. When this happens, it can be hard to fix the damage that has been done and mend the relationship. Fortunately, not all hope is lost. Use the following guide to learn a few things you can do to try to mend the relationship with your children so that you can have the best future together possible.

Get Professional Help for Your Addiction

Telling your children that you are done using drugs and that you are going to build a better life for yourself and them is often not enough. Addicts often claim that they are going to get clean time and again only to fail and relapse because they didn’t get the professional help that they need. It’s important to know that an addiction to drugs isn’t just physical. You become addicted to the drugs, mentally, as well as physically.

If you want to show your children that you are serious about rebuilding your relationship with them, you need to get professional help for your addiction. There are outpatient treatment programs available that allow you to get medications that can make it easier to withdraw from the drugs physically and meet with a psychiatrist who can help you battle the mental withdrawal from the drugs, as well. You can learn how to better handle cravings when they arrive and learn what triggers you to want to do drugs so that you can avoid them altogether.

Offer to Go to Counseling with Your Children

It’s important to make sure that you let your children know that you recognize the impact that your addiction had on them. Many children feel overlooked and like their feelings aren’t taken into account by an addict. You need to offer to go to counseling with your children so that you can hear how your addiction affected them and learn how to rebuild the relationship in a positive way. The counselor can help you and your children learn how to communicate with one another effectively and may be able to help them let go of any resentment that they have toward you for your addiction.

Right Your Wrongs

A great way to show people in your life that you really do want to stop using drugs and are trying hard to better yourself is to right the wrongs that you did while you were on the drugs. There are many addicts who destroy many aspects of their lives while they were addicted to drugs simply because the addiction took over their life.

In order to show your children that you really are ready to change, make amends for all the wrongs that you did. This may include telling someone you are sorry for something that you said or did, repairing something that you may have damaged while you were high or replacing something that you stole in order to get more drugs.

Making amends for the wrongs that you did allows you to heal too. The guilt that you feel from the poor decisions that you made when you were high can quickly take over your psyche and could cause you to relapse. You want to be sure that you are upfront and honest with people when you are making amends though. Explain to them that you made many huge mistakes and how sorry you are for those mistakes. You will start to heal when you right your wrongs.

Try to Help Others

Another great way that you can show your children that you really are turning over a new leaf is to do things to help other people. Addicts are inherently selfish. They are only worried about how they are going to get their next high and don’t care who they hurt in the process. If your children saw this side of you for a long time, they will more than likely think that you are a self-absorbed, selfish person.

Take the time to make a change in your life and focus on helping others rather than helping yourself. Volunteer at a local shelter, animal rescue, or with a community outreach program that helps members of your local community. Showing that you have the ability to care about others will let your children know that you aren’t the person that you once were. Volunteering can also help you because you won’t have time to focus on the negative aspects of your life. It can often make you even more appreciative of the great opportunities you have in front of you and spark a desire to take advantage of them as much as you can.

Rebuilding your relationship with your children will take time. You cannot force your kids to forgive you for everything that you did or didn’t do while you were on drugs. You need to be patient, kind and supportive of the fact that they may not be able to get over the past as quickly as you would want them to move on from it. Just be ready and willing to help them in any way that you can and provide them with the love and support they have needed and deserved since the day that they were born.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 866.893.6816.


How to Rebuild Damaged Relationships After Addiction Treatment

It may appear that, even after you’ve entered recovery for a substance use disorder, certain relationships can never be fully restored. The truth is you can work to rebuild relationships after addiction treatment that have been harmed in the course of an addiction, especially when you seek out help available through counseling services.

Relationships and Addiction

The effects of addiction can permeate nearly every aspect of your life, seeping through to cause harm in all areas, including your relationships with others. Spouses, romantic partners, business associates and even platonic friends may lose their trust in you. The parent and child relationship also involves a loss of trust, coupled with anger, frustration and disappointment. The whole family is affected by the consequences of substance addiction.1

Destructive behaviors exhibited by those who suffer from addiction can include dishonesty, theft, violence, unnecessary risk taking and other negative actions. Over time, someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol will generally become less functional and begin to neglect the responsibilities of work, family, school or finances. Their significant other, close family member or business associate may end up taking over many of these duties. This can become a burden that breeds resentment, causing deep cracks to form in the relationship.

Therapy Options

Family therapy plays a key role in restoring harmony, communication and trust between someone in recovery from an addiction and their loved ones.2 Family counseling will help restore these relationships after addiction treatment and during treatment.

Most treatment therapies for addiction will involve your significant other. Couples counseling is very important, because if troubles in the relationship are not addressed, the marriage or partnership may deteriorate, and this stress can put recovery at risk.

Individual and group therapy, core components of any high-quality addiction treatment program, are also very helpful and offer strategies for rebuilding relationships in the workplace and at home.

Begin Restoring Relationships Now

Though therapy is imperative to rebuilding relationships after addiction treatment, there are some steps you can take to begin those repairs now.

Ask the people involved for their time and their patience as you work through the self-involvement that accompanies addiction recovery.

You will need to be completely truthful in order regain the respect and trust of the people in your life if you want those relationships to be rebuilt. For example, if you are going to be home late, call to say how late you will be and why. If money has been an issue, be open and honest about how much you spend and what you are spending it on.

Accept responsibility for everything you’ve said or done related to your addiction.

Listen to what the people in your life say to you and acknowledge their hurt and feelings of betrayal.

Finally, focus on the relationships you are attempting to rebuild. Do this through therapy and by working toward becoming the best partner, parent, co-worker or spouse you can be to increase your chances of sustaining successful relationships after addiction treatment.

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