How Does Drug Addiction Affect Relationships?

While many treatment plans offer an assessment of an individual with regard to the negative effects that substance abuse creates in their overall health, some other factors are too frequently overlooked. Aside from the physiological, physical, and behavioral changes, there is a relational impact that people suffering from substance abuse experience.

The hard truth is that substance abuse, especially when left untreated, damages every familial, social, and professional relationship a person experiences. This factor cannot be overlooked because a lack of social support structures is a major reason for relapse among recovering individuals. People working toward recovery are too often left without a frame of reference for healthy relationships and have trouble distinguishing between a healthy relationship and a potentially harmful one.

Characteristics Present In A Healthy Relationship.

To evaluate the changes in an existing relationship or determine if a new relationship has potential for a healthy future, it is important to know what elements are present in a healthy relationship. Here are a few general guidelines that exist in healthy relationships:

  • Boundaries
  • Honesty
  • Communication
  • Trust

Clear boundaries between two parties avoid uncomfortable situations where one or more parties feel they are being taken advantage of or used in some way. Boundaries also place limits on each person and create protection against manipulation and codependency. They are essentially limits that establish what a person will and will not do to be part of the relationship.

Honesty is the most essential part of any type of relationship, even the relationship with oneself. Being truthful and realistic with one another is the most effective way to move forward in recovery. Transparency among individuals in a relationship creates vulnerability but also leaves a space for unconditional love and acceptance.

Open communication between members of a social group facilitates the free exchange of ideas and feelings. Effective communication skills are also necessary for clients in recovery because it promotes the release of thoughts and feelings that could be harmful if they are continually suppressed.

Of course, if there is no trust, there is no relationship. This holds true for every type of interaction between two people. Since trust is so vital to a healthy relationship, people in their journey to overcoming a substance abuse history worry that they will not be able to maintain relationships due to their dishonest behavior and other harmful actions of the past. Rest assured, there are solutions to restoring relationships.

Substance Abuse Changes Relationships

If one or more persons in a relationship are dealing with a substance abuse issue, there are inevitably going to be changes for the worse. The unhealthy habits that are acquired during a period of substance abuse cause harm to oneself and others. Usually, both parties maintain some sort of defense mechanism that allows them to continue in the damaged relationship. They may be stuck in denial, fear, resentment, indifference, or some other emotion that prevents open conflict resolution to take place.

These and other unhealthy relationship habits allow only limited communication and no real chance for joy or growth. Unfortunately, neither party may want to give up even this broken thing that exists between them. With an integrated treatment plan, it is possible to tackle both the initial subject matter of a substance abuse problem, along with the secondary but related issue of troubled relationships.

An effective treatment program can provide an individual with all the tools necessary to enable them to seek and maintain healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. These tools are useful for deciding whether to keep existing relationships and whether to pursue new ones with specific individuals.

Restoring And Releasing Relationships

Restored relationships happen as a result of humility, honesty, and hard work. Reclaiming the trust of a friend or loved one after a betrayal is never easy, but it is indeed possible. Recovery tools allow clients to learn more about themselves and why they behave and think in particular ways. This alone is an eye-opening experience and can impact the way they communicate with others.

Recovery also encourages positive interactions in multiple types of relationships. Professional acquaintances are most likely to forgive and forget, while personal relationships may require a little more finesse to restore. Every type of relationship that is important to the client deserves to have a chance to thrive.

Another focus of recovery is recognizing codependent or toxic relationships that would be harmful to one or both parties if maintained. Letting go of these negative influences is an integral part of recovery. Clients should recognize that it is healthy and even recommended to grieve over these severed connections when appropriate. The main priority of recovery is lasting sobriety, and that happens when negative relationships are removed and positive ones are restored and created.

Treatment Options

Recovery treatment for an individual is expected to expand far beyond the client with a substance abuse history. Friends, family, co-workers, and previous acquaintances all factor into the treatment plan, even if they are not explicitly named. This is true because integrative treatment plans operate with the initiative to heal the entire being, not just one aspect of struggling with substance abuse. All experiences from the past and present may be relevant to the healing process.

Inclusive treatment programs offer healing experiences for the entire family unit. Group therapy provides the opportunity for friends and family to reconnect in a monitored environment where communication can be interrupted or even redirected if necessary. Coping mechanisms and effective communication style guides are provided to those individuals supporting a loved one in their recovery efforts.

There is no question about the damage incurred in relationships due to substance abuse. That is simply the nature of the beast. However, effective treatment plans are available that help friends and family cope with the battle of watching a loved one suffer. Once restored, these relationships can become fruitful and completely enjoyable again. Perhaps they will be even stronger than they ever were before.

If you are experiencing the painful effects of a damaged relationship due to the substance abuse challenges of yourself or a loved one, please know that St. John’s Recovery Place can help. Call today and begin the restoration process that comes along with recovery.

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