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Repairing Relationships

Repairing Relationships

There is no question that addiction takes a vicious toll not only on the addict but on his or her family members and loved ones and on their relationships with them. This manifests itself perhaps the most in marriages where one spouse suffers from a substance abuse problem. The problem with addiction and repairing relationships is that, even if a substance abuser is able to seek help and get sober, the damage caused by a substance abuse problem is often so severe that it cannot be fixed and the marriage will fail. In fact, most divorces take place after the individual has gotten into recovery and is no longer an active substance abuser.

Robert Navarra, master therapist, wrote about the effect that addiction has on a marriage, discussing the fact that nearly half of all Americans with past or current drug or alcohol abuse had gotten divorced at some point in their lives. He spoke further about how couples can salvage their relationships after one has kicked their addiction and is in recovery, but it takes a significant amount of work and dedication on both parts. He discussed divorce rates in recovering addicts and the importance of repairing relationships after the addicted spouse gets out of treatment because most rehab centers do not address this issue properly.

Mr. Navarra, in commentary, said that:

“We also know that addiction brings with it a divorce rate 4x higher than average and that the first year of recovery is really, really hard for couples. While addiction is often referred to as a “family disease,” current approaches in recovery typically do not provide treatment approaches that address or account for the relationship between addict and partner.”

Family, Relationships, and the Importance of Communication

The biggest misconception is that going to rehab will fix everything in an addict’s life. Not true. Most times, when an individual goes into an average rehab, the treatment program will be entirely focused on helping that individual to triumph over addiction and work their way upwards into a level of sobriety and abstinence that is lasting and permanent.

But this is an inherent flaw of treatment centers to not address this crucial factor of an individual’s recovery process.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine:

“The parent of small children may attempt to compensate for deficiencies that his or her substance-abusing spouse has developed as a consequence of that substance abuse. Conversely, children may act as surrogate spouses for the parent who abuses substances. For example, children may develop elaborate systems of denial to protect themselves against the reality of the parent’s addiction. With a single parent who abuses substances, children are likely to behave in a manner that is not age appropriate to compensate for the parental deficiency.”

When addiction enters into a family, whether it strikes home in a spouse, a parent, or in adolescent or adult children, havoc ensues and the entire family unit is damaged as a result. It is for instances and examples like the above that support groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon exist, to provide support, care, and help for the family members and loved ones of drug addicts and alcoholics.

While it may take great effort to address the damage caused to a family because of addiction, it can be done. Addiction expert Russell Goodwin, who is a fully licensed chemical dependency counselor in Ohio, published his own findings on addressing addiction within the family and the effects that that creates.

He said that:

“Each member of the relationship needs to be doing their own individual work before proceeding to work on the relationship. Once you are established in your own work [towards dealing with the situation], you can start to work on healthy communication and honesty with one another.”

We can see from his work that communication more so than any other, single tool is key in addressing such damage. With communication, a recovering individual can get an idea of exactly what damage they caused and is able to locate what solutions and remedies they can apply to repair such damage. By using communication, a recovering individual can let their family members know what he or she needs from them to support them in recovery, and can conversely find out what their family members need from them as well.

Repairing Relationships

A small handful of addiction treatment centers are able to address repairing relationships with their clients while their clients are still in treatment. These programs offer relationship counseling, which teaches recovering individuals how to take responsibility for the negative effects that they will have had on their family members and loved ones and how to repair that damage.

Such treatment centers can offer safety and stability within the relationships of their clients, and some such rehabs will even have the family members, loved ones, and marital partners of their clients come to the treatment center to work with the client for specific intervals throughout their recovery. Regardless of the process used, treatment centers certainly are starting to catch on to the importance of addressing all of the aspects of an addict’s life, and his or her relationships is a big part of that.

A recovering addict’s family members and loved ones will be crucial to them while in recovery. This is the support group, the safety network, the confident, the shoulder to cry on when times in recovery get tough and relapse threatens. If a recovering individual is not able to properly address the hardships that they created for their loved ones, repair that damage, and start anew, they risk not having a fulfilling recovery experience. Furthermore, they leave their family members and loved ones stuck in the morass of their recovering loved one’s past mistakes, even if the recovering individual has not made those mistakes in years. One must repair the damage by using communication and by seeking to start anew.

Navarra writes that communication is the backbone of creating effective reparations of a damaged family unit. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence supports the idea that addiction is never a singular matter, always a family matter, and just as the family can be the deciding factor in an individual’s positive recovery, the family can also be the reason why a recovering individual relapses if these relationships are not handled properly.

The NCADD goes a step further to report that:

“The disease of alcoholism and addiction is a family disease and affects everyone close to the person. Not only does the alcohol or drug user need help, so do you, even if you don’t realize it at the time. You and other family members need and deserve appropriate education, help, and support in finding healthy ways to overcome the negative effects of the disease.”

Repairing Relationships with Addiction Treatment

New Beginnings seeks repairing relationships with each of their clients. They give their clients a personal toolbox for addressing their relationships outside of rehab, a toolbox that uses communication and a willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions and to repair them. For more information on New Beginnings and how they help people, contact us today. A phone call can help change your life for the better.

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