Healing Family Bonds In Recovery

It is said that addiction is a family disease, and nothing could be truer.  Addiction affects not only the person afflicted with the disease but also their family and loved ones.  If you are struggling with relationships, it’s important to remember that you can’t fix them until you’ve taken the steps necessary to heal yourself.  You can start by attending drug addiction treatment so that you can recover.

Drug addiction treatment centers are supportive environments that allow you the time you need to focus on yourself and your recovery.  During this time, it may be tempting to worry about your relationships with your parents, children, partners or siblings, but you can’t.  You have to put other issues in your life aside and focus 100% on yourself and your recovery.

During treatment, you will not only learn how to stay sober, you will learn coping skills that will help you communicate more effectively with your loved ones, and be more self-confident and self-assured.  Many relationship problems are the result of low self-esteem, codependency, and poor communication skills.  While drug addiction treatment centers won’t solve all your relationship problems, getting sober is a huge first step.  And, the skills you gain in treatment will help you forge better relationships in the future.

Once out of treatment, you will have the opportunity to begin healing relationships with your family, partner, and friends.  This is a process, and it’s not always easy.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you move forward in your recovery.

Don’t Force Things

You’re sober now and  have turned your life around.  You’ve worked hard and made huge changes, but it doesn’t feel like your family or friends recognize it.  They may still be treating you like you are untrustworthy, or they may still be angry.  They may even have a hard time believing that you are really serious about your recovery, and they may  accuse you of using at the drop of a hat.

This can be unbelievably frustrating because you know better.  You know that you are sober now and that you’re serious and can be trusted.  It would be wonderful if your family could right away see that you’ve changed, but  it’s going to take time to rebuild trust and for them to start seeing the person you’ve become.  There is still a lot of  anger, resentment, hurt feelings and fear.  Your loved ones may not feel okay about letting their guard down just yet.

Now is not the time to try and force things.  You have to let people have their feelings and work through them at their own pace.  The reality is that things got to where they are over a period of time, probably years.  These feelings and situations are not going to be fixed overnight.  A lot of patience and healing is needed, and you have to realize that everyone has their own timeframe for rebuilding trust and forgiveness.

Do Seek Outside Help

Often, it takes an outside perspective to help families sort out their problems.  A professional can mediate the situation and offer tools, strategies, and solutions to the problems you and your family may be experiencing.  As you know, there is nothing wrong with seeking outside help to cope with problems — we can’t always do it alone!

Family counseling is sometimes necessary to help everyone process what has happened and learn new ways of communicating and solving problems.  One thing that often happens in families where there are a lot of powerful feelings is that it becomes difficult to communicate and resolve problems without angry outbursts, blaming and shaming.  These are counterproductive, and while everyone is entitled to their feelings, it’s not okay to be verbally or emotionally abusive.

Encourage family members to seek help for themselves, too.  Resources such as Al-Anon are wonderful for providing support and tools for family members struggling with the addition of a loved one.

Only Own Your Part

While your addiction may indeed have wreaked havoc in your family, you are not the cause of every single problem that has occurred.  It may be tempting to take everything on, especially if you are experiencing a lot of guilt and shame.  Families are complex systems with a lot of moving parts, and you are not responsible for everyone’s feelings.

Stay Sober And Keep Working On Yourself

You have no control over anyone but yourself.  You can’t magically fix all of your relationships, no matter how hard you want to.  You have to let people have their feelings and deal with their stuff their way.  The best thing you can do is stay the course.  Treat people (including yourself) with kindness and respect, and be open to forgiveness yourself.  The best apology is changed behavior, so continue to maintain your recovery, that has to come first.