While addiction can have an enormous negative impact on the person dealing with it directly, part of what makes addiction so troublesome in general is the way it can also impact other people close to them. Family members are the most commonly-impacted here, and there are many cases where those who go through addiction recovery will have to spend time repairing relationships with family that have been damaged by their addiction.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we’re here to help. We offer a wide range of addiction recovery programs and services, including both inpatient and outpatient recovery programs depending on the needs of the individual. Helping repair family relationships is often a common part of the addiction recovery process; here are some simple ways to go about this process that we often pass on to our patients.
Know That Rebuilding Relationships Takes Time
First and foremost, as anyone managing addiction knows, recovery is a process. It’s not something that happens overnight, and it’s certainly not something that can be accomplished in a single day or week. The same goes for rebuilding relationships with family members; it will take time, patience, and effort to rebuild trust and communication that might have been lost during the addiction itself.
It’s vital to approach this entire area with the right expectations; it will take time, but with effort, it can be done.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
Trying to rebuild an entire relationship all at once is often a recipe for disaster. Instead, start small. If there are particular family members you’re looking to reconnect with, start by sending a short text or email just to say hello. If possible, set up a short phone call or video chat to catch up and see how they’re doing.
The goal here is just to start rebuilding communication; once that’s been established, you can start working on larger issues and areas of the relationship that might need some work.
Apologies Matter – To a Point
There are a few areas of rebuilding family relationships that may require some nuance, and apologizing is certainly one of them. On the one hand, it’s important to take responsibility for your words and actions during addiction and show remorse for the pain you might have caused.
On the other hand, too much apologizing can become a crutch that keeps you from moving forward. Family members in your life only want to hear so much apologizing; at a certain point, they’ll be looking for you to take some real steps towards change and rebuilding the relationship.
Again, it’s all about finding the right balance and using your best judgement in each individual case.
Importance of Following Recovery Plans
One of the single most important things anyone recovering from addiction can do to help rebuild and maintain family relationships is to stick to their recovery plan. This might include attending group meetings, individual therapy sessions, and continuing to take any prescribed medication as directed.
The reasons behind this are simple enough: You’re sending a message to your family members that you’re serious about recovery, and that you’re taking the necessary steps to make it happen. This can go a long way towards rebuilding trust and communication, two of the most important foundation stones for any close relationship.
For example, if you’re attending group meetings regularly, you might want to invite a family member to come along with you once in a while. This can help them see the progress you’re making and how your involvement in a recovery program is helping you stay on track.
Of course, not every family member will be interested in attending these sorts of things with you, and that’s okay. The important thing is that you’re continuing to make an effort to stay involved in your own recovery, and that you’re keeping family members updated on your progress along the way.
Considering Family Therapy
For some families dealing with addiction, the option of family therapy might also be something to consider. This can be a great way to open up communication channels, identify any lingering issues or resentment, and start working towards real solutions together.
Family therapy sessions are typically led by a therapist who specializes in addiction recovery, so it can be a good idea to ask your regular therapist for a recommendation if you’re not sure where to start. But for some families, this can be a powerful tool for rebuilding relationships and moving forward in a healthy way.
Give Family Members Space
It’s also vital to be cognizant of the simple reality that your behaviors during the throes of addiction may have caused some deep emotional wounds. Just as you need time and space to heal, your family members might need the same thing.
This doesn’t mean you have to stay away from family members forever, of course. But it’s important to be respectful of their boundaries, and to give them the space they need to work through their own feelings about addiction and recovery. If a given family member isn’t immediately receptive to the idea of rebuilding a relationship, that’s okay. In time, with patience and understanding, you may be able to repair things.
Ultimately, the key to rebuilding family relationships after addiction recovery is communication. It’s important to be honest about your feelings, to apologize when appropriate, and to keep family members updated on your progress. Family therapy can also be a helpful tool in some cases, and it’s crucial to give everyone the space they need to heal any emotional wounds that might have been caused by addiction. With time, patience, and understanding, you can begin to rebuild the important relationships in your life.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our caring addiction recovery programs, speak to our staff at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.