6 Ways to Mend Relationships Affected by Substance Abuse

By Dan Gellman,
updated on Aug 20, 2018

6 Ways to Mend Relationships Affected by Substance Abuse

When walking on the path to recovery from substance abuse, it is important to remember that you may not have been the only one affected by your addiction. Family members, friends, and significant others may have been impacted by your substance abuse, and part of your journey may be to repair those relationships

This can be one of the more difficult aspects of recovery for some people because they cannot control how their loved ones feel or react.

If you are seeking to repair relationships affected by substance abuse, here are six steps you can follow which may help:

Hold Yourself Accountable

Taking responsibility for your actions is one of the most important ways for you to demonstrate to your family and friends that you are serious about re-establishing connections. Acknowledge your behaviors or transgressions you may have made while you were using substances. Understanding your past mistakes will help you avoid repeating them in the future.

Allow for Two-Way Communication

people talking

In order to fully mend your relationships, it’s important to allow your loved ones the opportunity to express how your substance abuse affected them. Reach out to your friends and family and ask to have a candid conversation about what they experienced. Listen openly and fully. You may also want to consult with a counselor who can help you develop communication skills, including conflict resolution and active listening.

Focus on Bettering Yourself

One aspect of relationships that people can often overlook is that they have the power to improve themselves. Put forth some effort into your own recovery and self-care. This may include getting proper rest, eating healthy, and exercising regularly. You may also want to incorporate education into your healing process, and of course, continue to see a counselor to work through your feelings and create lasting and effective coping skills.

Learn to Forgive Yourself

Your friends and family may be cautious about rebuilding their relationships with you because they feel that their trust was violated. They may not yet be ready to forgive and forget, and you should accept their decisions. What you can do in the meantime is begin to forgive yourself. Recognize that you are breaking those destructive behaviors and replacing them with healthy choices. Now is the time to accept responsibility, seek forgiveness from yourself and others, and move on. You cannot change the past, but you can improve the future.

Be Patient

You have probably heard that time heals all wounds, and this advice applies to substance abuse recovery as well. It takes time to change habits, time for your body and mind to heal, and time to reconnect and repair broken trust. You may be excited and eager for the next stage of your recovery, but your loved ones may not be able to match your pace. Continue to demonstrate your commitment to sobriety and allow them the time to understand your sincerity towards mending those relationships and recognize your hard work.

Trust Is the Key

two men talking

Relationships are built on trust, and when that trust is broken, it can be challenging to rebuild it. Work on regaining the trust of your friends and family and family by being honest and reliable. Discuss with your counselor any other steps you can take, and then put the effort into taking positive action.

Throughout this process, it is important to understand just how much substance abuse can affect your friends and family. Regaining their trust and confidence will take considerable time and effort. If you are on the road to recovery from substance abuse, consider using these six steps to help mend relationships with your loved ones.

Dan Gellman is the Director of High Focus Centers, a provider of outpatient substance abuse and psychiatric treatment programs in New Jersey.

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