As much as drug and alcohol abusers wish to believe that their addictions only affect themselves, they are sorely mistaken. Family members, friends and significant others are often causalities of the user’s behavior, whether they knowingly or unknowingly commit acts that are detrimental to the relationships.
There are both physical and emotional tools that come with being in close proximity with someone who is actively engaging in substance abuse. Theft is one of the more common crimes committed against those who live with or spend a great deal of time with the user. This can naturally include stealing large sums of money or as simple as ransacking a mother’s purse. Either way, the effects of drug and alcohol abuse is not merely confined to the user himself.
Due to years of letting people down or emotionally damaging them, there is a lot of work to do if the recovering addict wishes to rebuild these relationships. It is not the responsibility of the hurt person to initiate contact but the abuser’s, who should be actively seeking to rebuild what’s broken.
1. Stay Sober
It may seem like an obvious notion, but it all starts with how you treat yourself. Depending on the situation, there may have been many times when you’ve told others that you’re going to get clean but never do. This may have led to numerous apologies over the years which have all turned out to be worthless. Staying clean for a long period of time will show those involved that you are serious about your recovery and, in turn, the relationship.
2. Make Amends
After years of abusing substances and the people around you, a simple apology is not adequate enough to remedy a broken relationship. Serious damage has been done so making amends is in order. The difference between the two is that making amends is an attempt to right the wrong while an apology only consists of words. Depending upon the situation, a letter or an in-person meeting is a good place to start. A text message or phone call may seem a bit too impersonal.
3. Take Action
By definition of “amends,” immediate action is required to make up for the damages done. Naturally, if it’s financial damage, there is an acceptable period of time for the funds to be paid back. In most cases if your loved ones are thoroughly convinced that you are making an honest attempt to be sober, they will not ask for retribution. However, that is their decision to make and you should still be willing to go to all lengths to repay what was taken.
4. Establish Trust
As much as you wish that a magic wand can be waved and everything be back to normal, that just doesn’t happen. Trust is an essential value of every relationship and if it is broken it can take years to restore. While this is frustrating, it should not discourage the recovering abuser. There are many consequences for your actions and the time it takes to fully rebuild trust is just one of them. Continuing to be receptive and responsible towards loved ones is a great way to move the process along.
5. Move Towards Success
From a parent’s perspective there is no greater joy than watching their child succeed. In the same way, sometimes the best way to rebuild a relationship is to show loved ones that you are able to be a successful human being. Milestones such as holding down a great job or graduating from college may have previously been overlooked due to substance use but recapturing these events will do wonders for your relationships. After all, if a loved one stuck around for such a long time they obviously want to see good things happen for you.