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Lifestyle Changes in Recovery: Rebuilding Family Relationships

How Addiction Can Cause Strain in Family Relationships

If you’re struggling with addiction, you have most likely already experienced how negatively it can affect your family relationships. Even if you started using drugs or alcohol in the beginning and had no intention of hurting the people you love, addiction usually has other plans. Addiction slowly progresses to overtake your mind, will, and emotions—it does not discriminate.
The longer you are in active addiction, the more out of character your actions will become. Your relationships will eventually fall to the wayside and where you once played an integral role in your family unit, you are no longer able to do so. Everything about your life becomes a question of how to procure the next drink or high. In the process, trust is frayed, money goes missing, promises are broken, and bridges are in danger of being permanently burned.

The good news is that there is a way to begin to repair the wreckage caused by addiction and show the people you love that you are willing to do what it takes to get help and get back in touch with who you really are. Addiction no longer has to rule the day and you no longer have to be a slave.

Rebuilding those Relationships

Relationships can be rebuilt and restored, but it starts with being honest and accepting or seeking out any help available to overcome your addiction. If addiction continues, the hurt and devastation also continue. Even if most of the things that you have done during active addiction are completely out of character, you must take responsibility for them.

While you begin drug and alcohol treatment, it is recommended that you and your family begin the process of healing by attending family therapy, and that your family seek out therapy of their own. Your family may even find support groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon helpful.

Loved ones and family should begin educating themselves on addiction as a disease and learn how to support you in a healthy way on the road to recovery. Having your family involved in treatment and aftercare in a positive way can work wonders in restoring and healing your relationship. Family and loved ones will want to track your progress and see the results with their own eyes.

Remember that at the end of the day, if you want to restore trust and heal your family relationships, you must do so with actions, and not just words.

Healing Takes Time

The number one thing that you should remember about restoring familial relationships after addiction is that it will not happen overnight. Of course, it can be tempting to expect that your family will automatically see all the changes you have made and start to trust you again. If you can remember to be realistic about the expectations that you have for your family, it can help you stay patient through the relationship and the healing process.

Continue to communicate with your family and ask them for forgiveness; be honest when talking about your role in events that have transpired.

Depending on how long you have been in active addiction, your family may not fully believe that you have changed or that the changes you’ve made won’t last. For a while, they may fear that you will relapse, and they may distance themselves from you to protect themselves.

Remember, it’s not because your family does not love you; it’s because they do not want to be hurt, and they don’t want to get their hopes up just to see you go back out. Do not become easily offended when met with the resistance of your family—stay humble throughout the entire process.

Keeping Family Relationships

Once you are out of treatment, remember that the work to rebuild and restore relationships does not stop. Although you are proud of your accomplishments in completing a substance abuse treatment program, it does not automatically mean that your family is going to warm up and feel the same way. Of course, they will be proud of you, but you have to understand that you may still have their guard up.

If you and your family are still struggling after you have already had a significant amount of time sober, we recommend that you begin therapy or counseling together. During active addiction, usually negative habits of interaction become a normal way of life. During recovery, it can be difficult to learn how to have healthy and wholesome interactions with each other again.

Always remember to take with you what you learned in treatment. In treatment, you learn about boundaries, healthy communication, and healthy relationships. Do not be afraid to look through some of the lessons you completed in treatment, it can help you brush up on your skills and continue to improve your relationships. In time, hopefully, your family will see that you are serious about your recovery and that you are committed to staying drug and alcohol-free.