The Impact of Addiction on Relationships and How to Repair Them in Recovery

Caucasian Couple with African American Child
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Addiction is a complex and challenging problem that not only impacts an individual’s physical and mental health, but it can also have an effect on their relationships with friends, family and romantic partners. The hardest part about these challenges is that the addict typically doesn’t recognize what they are doing. They are so focused on obtaining and using drugs or alcohol that they don’t realize how their actions and behaviors are affecting others.

If you are working through recovery (or have a loved one going through this), it’s important to understand how addiction impacts relationships and what you can do to repair them. These things take time, so patience and persistence are key.

How Addiction Impacts Relationships

There’s no way to ‘dance’ around the issue. Addiction destroys relationships. There are no healthy, functioning relationships that come out of abusing drugs or alcohol. Even the very best of friends and the most supportive family members will eventually get tired and leave the relationship if the addiction continues.

How addiction affects relationships depends on many different factors, including how close you are to the person and their own personality. Some people will stick around and support you for a long time, while others will remove themselves immediately. But for those who do stay with you, it’s possible that you could have a codependent relationship with them, which is also not healthy.

Here are some of the ways that addiction can impact relationships.

  • Trust issues. People who struggle with addiction often engage in secretive and dishonest behaviors to hide their substance use. Doing this can erode trust in relationships. Your loved ones may feel betrayed by your actions.
  • Financial strain.Drugs and alcohol cost money, and they can also lead to legal troubles. You may have lost your job and no longer contribute in the same way. Financial challenges put a burden on family members, who may feel resentful or frustrated.
  • Communication breakdowns.
  • Physical health issues. Substance use can lead to a range of physical health issues such as liver damage, heart disease and respiratory problems. If you’re not healthy, your loved ones have to take care of you, and their own health may suffer, too.
  • Emotional health issues. It’s common for mental illness and addiction to co-exist. This means that your loved ones may also be dealing with the side effects of untreated mental illness from depression, anxiety or PTSD.
  • Codependency. As mentioned above, codependent relationships are not uncommon in addiction. Loved ones who believe they are ‘helping’ may actually be allowing the substance use to continue.

Ways to Repair Relationships in Addiction Recovery

You can only begin to repair relationships once you are sober and in recovery. If you decide to attend AA or NA, you will work the steps, and this involves forgiving yourself, forgiving others and making amends.

Keep in mind that you can’t force someone to accept your apology or trust you right away. These things take time. All you can do is apologize for past mistakes, commit to sobriety and follow through with your goals. In time, you’ll be able to rebuild your social network with people who love and support you.

Below are some tips for repairing relationships in recovery.

Take responsibility for your actions.

While you were using substances, you likely blamed others for your behaviors. Now that you are sober, take responsibility for your past actions. Let others know that you are sorry for what happened and acknowledge the pain it caused them. Use specific examples if you can. Express remorse and avoid making excuses or blaming others for your actions.

Communicate openly and honestly.

Effective communication is critical in repairing relationships. Be open and honest with your loved ones about your addiction and your commitment to recovery. Express your feelings and listen to their concerns without becoming defensive. Remember, communication is a two-way street, so be prepared to have honest talks without being judgmental.

Establish clear boundaries.

It can be uncomfortable to set boundaries, but they are essential to relationships because they build trust and respect. Determine what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and communicate your boundaries to your loved ones. Also respect others’ boundaries as well.

Be patient and persistent.

Repairing relationships takes time and effort. But it will be worth your while. Things generally get better over time as you have more positive conversations and interactions, and you stay committed to your sobriety. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and now that you are sober, you will have much more time to repair damaged relationships.

Start Your Recovery Journey Today

Pura Vida Recovery is here to help you on your journey to recovery. We provide a range of services, including detoxification, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, outpatient treatment and aftercare. We also offer family support services to educate and support loved ones and rebuild family ties. Contact our admissions team today to learn more.