Battling an addiction takes its toll on a person's mind, body, and spirit. Fortunately those things can be healed during the recovery process.
What's not so difficult to heal are all the damaged relationships you've likely acquired throughout the course of your addiction. These damaged relationships often include close friends, family members, children, romantic partners, and even coworkers.
Going back and trying to rebuild these relationships will take time and effort. In many cases, relationships have become too damaged to ever be restored to what they once were.
Mending relationships in recovery is a painful and emotional process that teaches us important lessons about love, forgiveness, and letting go. Because some relationships just cannot be mended, you will have to learn that walking away is sometimes the best thing to do.
How addiction hurts relationships.
Addiction takes a toll on relationships with the people in your life because of the negative behavior that goes hand in hand with abusing drugs or alcohol. These behaviors range from minor annoyances such as lying, acting selfish, or not fulfilling responsibilities to friends and family.
These behaviors build over time and create a real problem for the people in your life. Many addicts find themselves doing things they never would have thought they were capable of.
Stealing, being unfaithful to a partner, causing physical harm to yourself or others, or getting in trouble with the law are just a few of the dark places addiction can take you.
Addiction causes a person to become less functional in their regular lives. Soon enough, the people who depend on you begin to notice.
They may begin taking on your neglected responsibilities themselves, leading to feelings of resentment and anger, Friends and family may not even express their feelings until it's too late.
By then, their mistrust, fear, and resentment may be too overwhelming for anyone to deal with.
How to start repairing the damage caused by addiction.
This is where the hard work begins. Repairing your relationships needs to be done by the addict themself as part of the recovery process.
This is because the relationship damage was a direct result of the addict's behavior. Participating in a 12 step group like Alcoholics Anonymous will require you to make amends to all the people you hurt during the course of your addiction or alcoholism.
Making amends starts out with making a complete inventory of your actions and how they have hurt others. After that, you go ahead and directly make amends to each person. You also want to be sure to go through your inventory and make sure there aren't any individuals who would get hurt by the amends.
It's a good idea to have support from a therapist or sponsor when making amends. It can be a very stressful and emotional process that shouldn't be done on your own.
You will likely encounter a wide range of reactions from people as you reach out to them. These reactions can range from forgiveness, relief, anger, and even apathy.
Some people will be open to being part of your life once again, while others have had their trust in you broken for good. It's important to go into making amends with no expectation of restoring your old friendships and bonds. If an old friendship is rekindled, then that's great.
Both of you will have to continue to do the hard work involved in repairing a relationship. This means a mutual trust and respect must be reestablished.
But it's likely that some old friends and colleagues will not be a part of your life ever again. This can be hurtful, but know that you've made the very courageous act of admitting your faults and taking the important step toward a better future.
The important thing to know is that you've learned to build healthier, more balanced relationships in sobriety.