A misconception of addiction is that it only affects the person who are suffering from a drug or alcohol problem. But it doesn’t just affect this one person – it is a family disease.
Family members suffer while watching their loved one struggle. They may even argue among themselves as they disagree on how to solve the problem. This is all while watching someone they care about spiral out of control.
While this struggle is going on, a major casualty of addiction is the amount of relationships that are destroyed in its wake. These relationships can be repaired during recovery once professional help is found. But be prepared for the work it will take and the patience needed to rebuild the trust that was lost during addiction.
Relationships That Suffer
Most relationships will suffer while your loved one is in the throes of addiction. These will include:
– Spouse/Partner: Trust can be re-established among partners, but it will take time.
– Parents: Parents can feel angry, hurt or betrayed. They can feel foolish because they tried to help their child only to find out they were financially supporting an addiction.
– Children: Younger children are easier when it comes to getting a relationship back on track. However, older children will require time and patience for them to see that a change is permanent and that they can trust their parent again.
– Friends: Many friendships can be rebuilt. Some will inevitably not survive, especially if they were unhealthy friendships to begin with. Others may need to adjust to a new sober lifestyle.
What Damage Occurred
Relationships are built on trust, communication, honesty, commitment and patience. These were likely destroyed during addiction and will be the things that need a lot of attention to be rebuilt. In addition to destroying these, your loved one might have done certain things to make it hard to trust them again:
- Show violence
- Break the law
- Make negative comments
- Say hurtful things
Working on Relationships During Treatment
Once your loved one has started receiving professional treatment, some of it will include therapy for their relationships. They will be asked to take responsibility for their actions and the damage they caused with their loved ones while they were addicted to drugs or alcohol.
At this point, you and your loved one can begin rebuilding your relationship:
– Set realistic expectations, as you both need to understand that it will take time to heal.
– Know that rebuilding trust can be a long, challenging process.
– Learn healthy communication methods (the treatment center can help facilitate this).
– Your loved one will need to eliminate unhealthy relationships that led to their addiction in the first place.
Tips for Family and Friends
This is a long, hard process for everyone involved. As the family members and friends of someone suffering from addiction, there are several tips that can help everyone through this journey.
- Try to separate the disease from the person
- Put a stop-loss on past events
- Live in the here and now
- Accept that trust takes time
- Attend family therapy sessions at the treatment center
- Find a support group for family members
- Understand that forgiveness is hard but has to be done to get back to trust and intimacy
- Know that trust is not the same as forgiveness – forgiveness can come faster but trust takes a long time.
- Set boundaries because too much too fast can be detrimental. Both parties have likely changed and will need to be reacquainted and learn how to love each other again.
Find Patience in Your Journey at Footprints Beachside Recovery
Restoring a broken relationship is similar to taking down a wall. It won’t happen quickly or all at once, but instead will happen brick by brick. Eventually, trust will be restored and the wall will be gone.
At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we know this process is difficult and we believe it is important for the family to heal, as well. Working on relationships during treatment and then during the entire recovery process gives the foundation for a better life for everyone involved. Contact us today to learn about our treatment program and how we incorporate the family into the recovery process.
Rebuilding Your Relationships While in Recovery From Addiction. (Accessed August 13, 2018). DrugRehab.org.