repairing relationships after rehab

5 Tips for Repairing Relationships in Recovery

Published on December 28, 2019 by First Responder Wellness

Addiction wreaks havoc on every aspect of life including personal relationships.  Repairing relationships that were damaged due to substance abuse is difficult and complex, and will require the cooperation and willingness of both parties.  However, if you believe there is hope for rebuilding a relationship with a friend, spouse, or family member, there are certain strategies that can help you to create a solid foundation.  

Take it Slow

While deciding to seek treatment for addiction and completing a program is an admirable step in taking back control of your life, you shouldn’t expect your sobriety to instantly reverse the effects of your substance abuse.  Things you may have said or done while in active addiction will linger in the hearts and minds of those you love, and they may need time to process their feelings and learn to trust again. While it can be hard to give people distance when you miss them and feel desperate to prove your commitment to recovery, space and time are important pillars of rebuilding a relationship that has been damaged by emotional pain.  You can offer a sincere apology to those you have hurt, and work towards making amends by holding yourself accountable to your promises and being available to them when they are ready to talk.  

Foster Communication Skills

A major part of building and maintaining a healthy relationship is understanding how to respectfully and effectively communicate with those you love.  For many people, this may mean learning how to genuinely listen for the first time in their lives. Active listening means being entirely present and open as someone else expresses themselves, and resisting the urge to take a defensive stance or attempt to explain why others’ feelings are not legitimate.  Many people develop a habit of thinking about what they would like to say next when someone speaks instead of simply absorbing the information and allowing time for resonation. Treatment for addiction often involves learning basic communication skills, but it may be necessary to revisit these techniques and grow in communication throughout recovery.  Family counselors and therapists are a great resource for establishing healthy communication in damaged relationships.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

While it is important to recognize that a simple apology does not make up for the pain you have caused, it is equally as important to refrain from putting yourself down or sinking into extreme guilt over past wrongdoings.  Apologizing is important, and making amends is a process that varies between each relationship, but excess guilt and shame can be detrimental to the growth of the relationship as well as your recovery. Focus on what you can change going forward and work on letting go of your past.  The only power you have to improve your relationships lies in the choices you make here and now.

Reach Out

Repairing relationships with old friends and extended family members may require some extra effort on your part.  People who haven’t always been around to witness your addiction or are unsure of what to expect after you have sought treatment may avoid you or be hesitant to check in on how you are doing.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to these friends and loved ones to let them know how you are, why you intend to stay sober, and how they can best support you. Many people are still uninformed about addiction and may subconsciously stigmatize your recovery journey, causing distance to build in the relationship.  Take the time to educate these people about addiction recovery and assure them that you are still the same person, just new and improved. You may help open their eyes about addiction while also bringing the two of you closer together.

Know When to Cut Ties

While it is natural to miss your friends and loved ones in addiction recovery, it is important to distinguish between those you should be working to hold on to and others you may need to let go of.  It may be difficult and painful, but staying close with friends and family members who are in active addiction during your recovery will put you at serious risk of relapse. Additionally, anyone who has abused you, physically or emotionally, is not only dangerous and detrimental to your overall wellbeing, but may put you in an emotional state that causes you to use.  As for loved ones with substance use disorders, focusing on your sobriety and prioritizing your health will put you in the best position possible to be an inspiring figure and mentor when they decide to seek help for their addiction.  

Quality treatment for addiction can help those struggling with substance abuse to repair broken relationships and rebuild their lives.  The First Responders Treatment Program at Simple Recovery uses trauma-informed strategies to cater to the unique needs of law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental illnesses.  We recognize that first responders encounter job-specific barriers and obstacles that come with the culture of their careers, and that existing stigmas may make seeking help for addiction and mental health issues especially difficult.

Addiction does not have to mean the end of your career or a lifetime of struggling with your health and relationships.  By taking a holistic approach to treatment and addressing the underlying causes of addiction, Simple Recovery makes it possible for first responders to regain control of every aspect of their wellbeing. First responders dedicate their lives to protecting their community, and at Simple Recovery’s First Responder Treatment Program, we believe in dedicating our time and expertise to helping these compassionate individuals find a path to lasting sobriety and mental wellness. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call us now at 888-743-0490