Going through an addiction, even when rehab has aided in recovery, is a long and grueling journey. When the high wears off and an addict begins to pick up the pieces of their life, they often face an amalgam of problems.
Recovering addicts must hold down a job, commit to sobriety, establish new routines, and in many cases, face the destruction of the relationships that were sucked into their addiction. It can be a painful realization, but broken relationships can often be mended. With patience and commitment, a recovering addict can repair relationships after rehab.
Common Responses During Recovery
During the recovery phase, there are four common reactions by friends and family:
- Anger: family and friends may react angrily over the pain the addiction has caused them and their relationships.
- Denial: this most often occurs if the person in question abused the drug/alcohol alongside the addict.
- Fear: believing that recovery is only temporary, and it will only be a short time before the physical, verbal, and mental abuse resumes.
- Happiness: some family and friends are just excited to see that the addict is in recovery.
No matter what the response from family and friends, an addict will need to exercise patience and understanding as they work to re-establish healthy relationships.
Earning Trust Takes Time
Trust is a hard thing to earn, even in healthy relationships. For recovering addicts looking to re-establish that privilege, they will need to work extra hard to demonstrate their commitment.
It will likely take some time, and the addict will need to prove their dedication through their actions. They will need to follow through on their promises, and they should expect to earn that trust back little by little. This step can be especially hard for the recipient, who will need to exercise a certain amount of vulnerability in order to learn to trust again.
Structure and Stability
Repairing a relationship post-addiction takes structure and stability. Even in relationships that seemed damaged beyond repair, a recovering addict can still work to adhere to new boundaries and limitations that bring normalcy back to the relationship. The idea is to get a new, healthy routine, and stick to it at all costs.
Starting over After Addiction
Loved ones should treat post-addiction relationships like new. This does not mean skipping the communication and forgiveness steps — which we will touch on shortly — but it does mean starting on a clean slate.
The addict is not coming back, and this can be tough for some people, who fell in love during an addiction. But this also means that the hostile and violent parts of the addict will not return. As hard as it may be to understand, recovering addicts should be considered new versions of themselves.
Patience, Communication, and Forgiveness
The first and most important step in the communication process is for an addict to accept responsibility for their actions. They must be willing to admit to their faults as well as demonstrate a desire to achieve a healthier life.
Secondly, there must be patience by both people. The road to recovery is long and challenging, and this can make post-addiction relationships difficult. With the right amount of patience, the addict should come around to new, healthier behaviors. And finally, in time, loved ones should learn to forgive. Once this final step has been taken, a new relationship can form, whereby trust has a fighting chance to grow.
Rebuilding Relationships After Addiction
Most rehab programs involve some form of reflection. During this time, addicts are able to look back on their behaviors with a little more clarity, often times seeing the deterioration of important relationships.
It’s no mystery that addiction negatively affects behavior. It is an ugly disease that can turn even the most mild-mannered people into hostile and moody monsters. But with the right aftercare routine and commitment to sobriety, a recovering addict can find new life in broken relationships. It will just take a great deal of patience and commitment.
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