There are many consequences to addiction, not least of which is the destruction of trust within relationships. Years of substance abuse can result in damaged relationships and, even if the addict has committed to a programme of rehabilitation, it can be difficult for those who have been hurt to regain the trust they once had in their loved one. The reality is that some relationships simply cannot be repaired.
Unfortunately, not everyone can forgive and forget, and some family members or friends cannot get past the hurt and pain that was caused by the person with the addiction. Thankfully, some people are willing to work on their relationships and may pray for the day that their loved one agrees to get help so that he or she can begin to build bridges.
It is important to remember that addiction does not just affect the person with the illness, but also everyone around them. Relationships with family members and friends can be torn apart by addiction. Addiction changes a person dramatically and his or her behaviour and actions may make them unrecognisable to those they love.
When an individual has been through a programme of rehabilitation, he or she may feel proud of themselves, and rightly so. They may now have a positive outlook on life and return home feeling great. Many recovering addicts expect their loved ones to feel the same and, in most cases, they will be delighted. However, it is important to remember that some people may be harbouring anger and resentment that they cannot let go of so easily. It must be realised that it may take some time to repair some relationships. It may take some hard work and effort on the part of the recovering addict; there are a number of things that can be done to improve the chances of repairing relationships.
Communication is a necessary part of all relationships. If you are an affected individual, it is important to speak to those you want to rebuild a relationship with and tell them about your recovery. Apologise for past behaviour and for any hurt your actions may have caused. Listen to the other person’s point of view and allow them to explain how they felt about your addiction and your actions. You may not want to hear it but this is one of the best ways for both parties to heal and for the relationship to begin to mend.
Your family members and friends will probably be used to you making broken promises throughout your time as an addict, so remember that actions will impress them far more than words will. Show them that you are prepared to do anything possible to mend the relationship rather than just telling them.
It is likely that your family and friends took a back seat to your addiction, so now is the time to put some real effort into these relationships. Make time to spend with family members and friends, and show a real interest in things that they like.
You need to be patient with your loved ones and remember that this is a process that could take time. These people could be full of anger towards you and may find it difficult to let that go, especially if children have been hurt while you were addicted. You will need to earn their forgiveness, which is not something you can do overnight. However, if you are patient and continue to make the effort required, you could begin to get these relationships back on track. You also need to remember that some relationships cannot be repaired and you may have to learn to accept this.