From a recent blog post:
3 Tips Only People Rebuilding Relationships After Addiction Will Understand
Substance abuse affects many facets of a person’s life that take time and energy to repair. Romantic relationships are not immune to the negative life impacts of addiction or other substance use disorders; in fact, addiction and infidelity often go hand-in-hand. But, the road to recovery can include repairing and rebuilding relationships. It is not an easy road, and sometimes couples decide the best thing to do is to part ways. The key is to work forward together and make a decision that is in your best interests.
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Substance abuse frequently closes lines of communication. People with substance use disorders typically hide their behavior and feel ashamed. They also push away from their partners emotionally and sexually because of guilt and shame. On the other hand, their partners start to feel as though they cannot trust them. When infidelity enters the mix, the relationship suffers heavy damage.
That’s why addicts and their partners need to work on communicating throughout addiction recovery and beyond. Partners feel angry, hurt, and betrayed when infidelity occurs. It breaks down trust and can ruin a relationship that already was tumultuous because of drug and alcohol use. Swift River’s guide to addiction and infidelity points out: “Infidelity is traumatizing. It causes the wronged party to question you, your relationship, and themselves.” Fortunately, communication can repair the damage if it is constructive.
The person in recovery needs to allow his or her partner to express feelings and accept them. If these conversations result in arguments or fights, you need to seek help from your recovery counselor in treatment or a marriage counselor. These counselors are neutral parties who understand how to guide conversations so they remain productive and help both of you heal.
- Take Advantage of Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment is not just about detoxing and learning how to live a sober life. It also is about learning how to be honest and truthful and how to stop deceiving your partner while rebuilding trust. And, it is about your partner having time to heal and learning to trust you again. Even if your partner loves and forgives you for your addiction and infidelity, he or she may not trust you for quite some time.
The first step you can take to eliminate deceiving your partner is to stop using drugs or alcohol. Your partner likely has heard you say you are going to stop, but you need to enter treatment to have a better chance of staying on the road to recovery and learning how to be honest. Showing him or her that you are committed to recovering and leading a sober life by entering treatment is a positive first step.
When you enter treatment, you will address your emotional, medical, and psychological problems. You will learn how to stop depending on substances and how to deal with stress and other issues in a healthy manner. Behavioral therapy and counseling will help you understand your motivations for maintaining sobriety and help you build skills to resist drug use. You’ll also learn how to solve problems and communicate more effectively, and you’ll begin to understand how your substance abuse and infidelity hurt your partner. You will build interpersonal skills that will help you repair your relationship, too.
- Mend Fences and Understand You May Move Forward Together or Apart
Communicating effectively, building trust, and staying on the path to recovery will help you in your efforts to mend fences with your partner. It takes time to repair relationships, and you will begin to learn how to do so in treatment. With the help of a counselor or therapist, your partner eventually will forgive you. But, you need to be prepared for your partner to consider his or her own needs and desires regarding the relationship. He or she may not be able to move past the infidelity or trust you again. Or, he or she may not want to remain in the relationship because of fear of relapse or more infidelity.
Rebuilding relationships after addiction is an essential part of recovery. Fortunately, treatment will help you develop the skills you need to move forward and stay sober even if your relationship cannot be repaired. You also deserve to be happy and enjoy the benefits of being in a healthy relationship; this relationship may be with your original partner, or that may be with someone new.
Guest Blogger for Jeremy Frank Associates and Jeremy Frank PhD CADC
Founder operator Recovery Hope