People who become addicted to alcohol and drugs experience a wide variety of effects as a direct result of dependency. Unfortunately, these profoundly negative effects include the deterioration of physical health, mental and emotional changes due to an altered brain structure and functioning, and also spiritual effects. Additionally, since most individuals suffer from active addiction for years or even decades, the self-destructive behaviors acquired as a part of one’s addiction become thoroughly ingrained in an addict’s life and are quite different—even virtually impossible—to overcome on their own.
Although addiction is considered quite different than most other diseases, one of its most unique features is that it has a major effect not only on the addict, but on an addict’s family, friends, and other loved ones. In essence, an addict’s loved ones much witness the deterioration and self-destruction from which he or she suffers due to chemical dependency. Addicts tend to try to hide their addictions from their loved ones and oftentimes even from themselves in the form of denial, but loved one notice the changes in appearance, behavior, and personality. Meanwhile, the development of an addiction causes increased desperation, making addicts more and more likely to stop to astonishing lows in order to sustain their addictions. Over the course of active addiction, many addicts break the trust that their loved ones had in them, causing potentially irreparable damage to many of their important relationships. However, an important component of the recovery process is learning healthy, respectful social skills and how to maintain positive relationships with others. As such, the following will explain the effects that addiction can have on relationships and how addicts can restore the broken trust of their loved ones.
How Alcohol & Drug Addiction Affects Relationships
One of the most prominent feelings in an addict’s life is desperation. At the onset of a substance abuse habit, the amount of a substance that an individual need are still somewhat manageable; however, with the passage of time an individual’s tolerance increases and causes him or her to need more of the substances, making one’s habit increasingly expensive. Even the most inexpensive substances quickly become a major financial drain while increasing absenteeism and poorer job performance decrease or even eliminate one’s income. With the threat of withdrawal constantly imminent, individuals begin to cross lines that they would never have crossed before. As a result, addicts begin resorting to rather extreme means in order to obtain what they need to continue their substance abuse. Unfortunately, family members and other loved ones are a convenience target for desperate addicts, becoming victims of theft as addicts resort to stealing in order to support their habits. When they’re not stealing from their loved ones, addicts are dishonest with them, which results in the loss of trust and, ultimately, damage to or destruction of relationships.
The First Steps Toward Restoring Trust After Addiction
There are many reasons that addicts commonly give for being resistant to treatment. This typically includes fear of withdrawal and the belief that they will be stigmatized for admitting to their addictions and entering a rehab. Additionally, each addict fears the change of opinion that loved ones will have once they realize that he or she has developed and been suffering from an addiction. However, it’s difficult for them to conceptualize the fact that admitting to their addictions often has the opposite effect on most addicts’ loved ones. Having witnessed the downward spiral firsthand, loved ones often reach a point of realization in which they understand what has been causing the deterioration and feel betrayed and hurt due to the individual denying the reality of his or her addiction. Therefore, admitting to one’s addiction can be a major first step toward regaining the trust of family members, friends, and other addicts as they see the admission as being an important precursor to investing effort into overcoming a substance abuse problem.
Another important step toward regaining trust and rebuilding relationships with loved ones comes with the time and effort of recovery. When loved ones see that an individual has devoted him or herself to the recovery process wholeheartedly and are able to see the amount of work that he or she is investing, the individual becomes more credible. He or she is no longer in denial of a substance abuse problem, but rather has accepted it and is proven him or herself ready and willing to overcome it. Moreover, as an addict progresses through recovery and accrues more sober time, loved ones will slowly begin to see him or her as being more responsible. Credibility and responsibility are essential precursors to trust in relationships.
Maintaining Healthy, Trusting Relationships in Recovery
Having completed treatment and returned to the community as someone with newfound sobriety, an individual has proven him or herself capable of achieving sobriety and must not prove him or herself able to sustain it. A natural effect of maintaining sobriety is that an individual will seem increasingly worthy of the trust of others; however, there are ways to help the process of regaining the trust of loved ones along. It’s often said in marriage counseling and family therapy that establishing and maintaining open, healthy lines of communication is an essential part of strong relationships. In fact, communication is an essential part of many types of relationships in which trust plays an important part. This is also true of individuals who are in recovery and are trying to repair relationships with loved ones. Over the course of active addiction, individuals become withdrawn and significantly less communicative, which tends to make individuals seem secretive and untrustworthy. As such, being open and communicative—which includes making sure that one is available for communication with others as they need it—will go a long way in helping loved ones to see a recovering addict as being worthy of their trust.
Believe in Life After Addiction — Contact the Palm Beach Institute Now
The recovery process doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s frequently said that the real recovery doesn’t even begin until after an individual has completed an addiction treatment program and returned to the community with his or her tenuous, newfound sobriety. However, there’s no singular route toward lasting recovery that is more correct than others since each individual who suffers from chemical dependency can only recover at his or her own pace. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction and would benefit from learning more about the available treatment options, the Palm Beach Institute is here to help. Call us today to speak with one of our experienced recovery specialists who have helped countless individuals return to lives of health, sobriety, and happiness.