3 Positive Effects of Healing Human Relationships

Addiction ravages relationships. Although National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) research shows that professional treatment boosts chances of achieving sobriety and lowers relapse risk, healing never happens instantaneously. Restoring trust and repairing hearts is a process that takes time—a fact that friends, family members and individuals in early recovery should keep in mind when they feel discouraged or hopeless. As anyone with lasting sobriety can attest, the hard work is well worth it. To learn three positive effects you can expect as your relationships heal, read on.

#1: You Will Have a Better Grip on Reality

Escaping an addiction is an incredible achievement, but it does not mean that everything is going to be perfect right away. It can take a long time to put right the destruction wrought during the years of substance abuse. The hardest challenge can be rebuilding relationships. Some relationships may be unsalvageable; not everyone can forgive and forget. More likely, it will simply take some time to regain trust and respect from people who have been hurt.

If you forget this fact, you may have unrealistically high expectations of the people around you. For example, you may come home from rehab and expect to get along peacefully with your children, or stop bickering with your spouse about money. Expecting to be greeted like a conquering hero, you may feel cheated when the actual response you receive is less than effusive. The folks at home may congratulate you warmly yet still feel quite wary, a reasonable and appropriate response when rebuilding a relationship with an addict in early recovery.

Rehab jumpstarts recovery and sets the stage for reconciliation and repair, but the long-term restoration of broken relationships requires patience, wisdom, and commitment. Accepting this reality will help you stay serene when problems arise. Years of hurt and disappointment cannot be put right overnight. The best way to set things straight is to stay sober and build a respectable life. Accept the pain you have caused, provide space and time to heal, and look for ways to provide tangible signs of change in your heart, mind and character.

#2: You Will Form Healthy Connections

Research shows a strong link between positive community support and recovery. Addiction leads to isolation, which is why one common treatment goal is to break social isolation. Many forms of therapy that are frequently used at rehab centers such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT) focus on removing the barriers that block addictive people from intimacy. Learning how to rely on others and connect more deeply is also a goal of group therapy.

Healthy communication is one of the skills practiced in group therapy at most rehab centers. The ability to ask for what you need, respect the needs of others and learn to give more than you take is the centerpiece of sober relationships. Often, this skill can only grow once dysfunctional ways of relating have been eliminated. For instance, experts at the Centre for Mental Health and Addictions maintain friends and family members of addicts frequently stay “sick” because they enable each other, a term that describes stepping in to solve another person’s problems.

Enabling perpetuates beliefs that personal love, acceptance, and security hinge on caretaking. It locks people into set roles. On the other hand, setting boundaries and defining ownership of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs allows relationships to grow and expand. In turn, this fuels positive connectivity that is productive and mutually satisfying.

#3: You Will Deepen Your Capacity for Intimacy

Intimacy is one of the earliest casualties of substance abuse. Addiction is all consuming. As individuals fall deeper into addiction, substance use leaves less and less room for anything—or anyone—else. Once someone enters recovery, he or she often needs to work hard to regain the ability to enjoy healthy romantic and platonic relationships based on factors that include the following:

  • Trust
  • Knowledge of another person
  • Affection
  • Learning to think in terms of “we” not just “me”
  • Commitment
  • Equanimity
  • Mutuality

Relationships that lack these traits do not have this closeness can feel stale and unfulfilling. As intimacy is a vital component of spirituality, feeling closed off from others can also block spiritual progress. In contrast, cultivating intimacy—and the traits that go with it—opens connection on every level. Real intimacy allows an individual to understand themselves, others and a Higher Power in life changing ways.

Help for Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, we can help. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free helpline are available 24 hours a day to guide you to wellness. Don’t go it alone when support is just one phone call away. You never have to go back to a life of addiction. Start your recovery now.

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