Addiction recovery is hard and nothing strains a relationship like substance abuse. Dealing with addiction can put significant stress on a person, which in turn can leave them ill equipped to maintain healthy relationships or form significant bonds.
Even family connections can fray under the weight of substance abuse, which can leave the recovering addict, as they seek to reconnect with the world in the wake of addiction treatment, with a major question: how to navigate relationships after addiction recovery.
Addicts, in the grip of substance abuse, can find relationships one of the most difficult things to deal with on a daily basis. With the constant need to feed their addiction and get another fix, all other elements of their life take a backseat, even friendships, family ties or romantic entanglements.
Missed dates, unmet obligations, lies and other such behaviors can damage these relationships, leaving the addict feeling increasingly isolated as their own behavior drives away the people who would wish to help them the most.
After the addict successfully completes a treatment program for their substance abuse, repairing and restoring such relationships is a major step in their return to everyday life and creating a strong support network around them to help prevent relapse.
But it can be difficult for the addict to resume the relationships they had before they entered treatment. After all, these are people the addict may have hurt, deceived or betrayed in some way, in small or large ways. Could they have damaged their relationship beyond repair?
Sometimes, unfortunately, the answer will be yes, but the client cannot know this until they at least attempt to reach some form of rapprochement with their former friends and loved ones.
In some cases of addiction recovery, loved ones may reach out to you first. Some may have even been there for you while you were in rehab. But others you may have to seek out and make the first move to try and restore the relationship to what it once was and hopefully can be again.
You may feel the need to apologize. You may want to try and make it up to them in some way. But strong relationships should be able to survive your addiction without grand gestures or form of restitution. Acknowledging your faults and your desire to do better is the most essential part of the process.
The process may take time. If you seriously strained their trust, they may take time to fully rely on you again, but not every relationship will be mended in a day with a hug or a backslap. Putting in the time and effort to repair relationships is vital in many cases.
And remember one vital point:
Not every relationship can be mended, nor should some be mended at all.
It is important for the former addict to leave behind relationships that could pull them back into drug use or substance abuse. Those relationships that fostered addiction may need to be left behind entirely.