Rebuilding Relationships For Successful Recovery
In addiction recovery one of the most crucial actions an individual can take is to cut ties with anyone who may pose a threat to your recovery, i.e. your old drinking or using friends. On the other side of the spectrum, one of the most important aspects of addiction recovery is restoring close ties with other individuals.
Many individuals in recovery cite their support and social circle as a main factor in aiding them to long-term recovery. But why are rebuilding relationships so important?
In an ongoing quest to find the secret to happiness, scientists find themselves coming back to the same answer time and time again—relationships with other people.
In a 2012 Australian study researchers discovered that the quality of a child’s relationship with their family and friends formed a greater impact on their happiness as adults than intelligence, wealth, or academic success.
Additionally, the U.K.’s National Child Development Study found that middle-age adults who regularly meet up with 10 or more friends have better mental health than those with five or fewer friends.
However, after severing ties with old drug-abusing associates, many addicts in early recovery are faced with building a social network from the ground up; a task that may seem daunting and lonely, but doesn’t have to be. Here are ten ways you can break away from the loneliness and make strong and healthy connections:
- Grieve the loss: A lot of the time giving up drugs or alcohol may feel like you are losing your best friend. As such – despite the fact that it was vastly one-sided – it’s still imperative to grieve the loss. In early addiction recovery you’re likely to experience a vast array of emotions including shock, loneliness, anger, and sadness.
- Join a support group: Oftentimes an individual in recovery may feel as if they are on the fringe of society and that no one will understand him or her. Spending time with others in recovery that share similar struggles and can provide a listening ear and honest feedback can go immense lengths to quell these feelings and aid in recovery. Additionally, reaching out for guidance from a sponsor or therapist can help an individual work through their feelings as well as suggest additional resources.
- Make amends where possible: Unfortunately, addiction can cause an individual to disconnect from the people closest to you; as loved ones who were hurt and confused by the addict’s destructive behavior may have cut ties. Early recovery provides the perfect time and opportunity to make amends. For example, doing what you say you’ll do and showing your loved ones your commitment to recovery may go a long way in reestablishing those connections. To learn more about making amends, see Step Nine (link Step Nine blog once posted) in the 12 Steps to addiction recovery.
- Cut out negative influences: As previously stated, when in recovery it is essential to cut out all negative influences and relationships that may pose a threat to recovery. Additionally, while dating may seem like a great way to connect with people, romantic relationships can also run the risk of being distracting and volatile; as well as strongly associated with relapse in the first year of recovery.
- Go online: Today’s age of social networking and smart phones provide the space for dozens of support outlets accessible to anyone with just the click of a button. Through online forums it is quick and easy to talk to others in recovery; and the plethora of free recovery apps available provide suggestions, daily affirmations, and information about local support groups.
- Diversify: Feelings of loneliness can often be a signal that a change of pace is needed. Early recovery is a great time to consider joining a club, taking a class, or trying something you’ve always wanted to do.
- Get comfortable with yourself: Taking the time to get comfortable with oneself and being someone with whom others want to interact with can go immense lengths to help rebuild relationships. This can be helped along by building self-confidence, developing appropriate social skills, setting healthy boundaries and being a good friend in return. It’s also important to note that it is healthy to be alone sometimes, but also that being alone does not necessarily mean you’re lonely.
- Give back: To be a good friend it’s important to do things like actively listen, consider other’s needs, etc. Acts such as volunteering can also be a productive way to build a greater sense of connection to others.
- Stay balanced: It is especially important in early recovery to make sure the aspects of your life stay balanced. For example, it may be important to make friends and family the first priority. While work, school, and other responsibilities are important as well if they monopolize your life, your recovery can suffer.
- Sit with your emotions: Even with a solid support system, everyone feels sad or lonely from time to time. Unpleasant emotions are a healthy part of life and you may be able to learn from them be recognizing feelings as signals that something is not working in your life.
Maintaining social connectedness in addiction recovery is immensely valuable to the recovery path. In fact, individuals who feel socially isolated are actually more likely to struggle with substance abuse and are flirting with a prime relapse trigger.
Following some of the steps listed above can not only help aid in the path to long-term addiction recovery, but can also help bring back some of the joy relationships can bring. Always remember you don’t have to face the journey alone. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, don’t hesitate to give us a call; there’s no time like the present.
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