Building Healthy Relationships in Addiction Recovery
If you are in recovery from addiction, it is so important to build healthy relationships with people who can support you on your recovery journey.
Active addiction leads many people to develop relationships that only enable drug and alcohol use. Coming into recovery there is a need to distance yourself from these relationships, and for many, that means building a whole new set of friends.
If you are new to recovery or attempting to overcome an addiction, you may have little or no idea of what a healthy relationship consists of. This can be a steep learning curve for most people, yet it doesn't have to be.
Recognising Toxic Relationships
When developing healthy relationships, it is helpful to know what a toxic relationship looks like. Toxic relationships can hamper your recovery and can cause relapse.
Many people with addiction end up feeling their loneliest just before they come into recovery. Their world becomes smaller and smaller as alcohol and drugs take over everything and everyone. If by the end of your addiction, you had any friends left, there is a good possibility your relationship with them was toxic. Why would a person want to hang around someone who is in active addiction unless there is something in it for them?
Now that you are in recovery, or attempting to get well, you may find that the people who you thought were your friends, were nothing more than using acquaintances. These former associates are unlikely to be happy for you. If anything, they may try to drag you back down.
Part of forming new healthy relationships is knowing when to let go of old toxic ones. When you come into recovery it is time to move on from the darkness of your past and let go of any relationship that does not serve your new way of life.
Stopping Codependent Behaviour
Codependency in relationships, where one partner has been in active addiction, is common. However, continuing to allow codependency can really harm your recovery and prevent you from developing healthy relationships with others.
Codependency occurs when one person places the needs and wants of another person above their own and to the detriment of both people.
Perhaps you are in a relationship whereby your partner is used to having to be your caregiver. They may well struggle with your new-found independence and desire to form new friendships. They may struggle with not being needed. In instances like this, couples counselling or your partner attending Al-Anon or similar for themselves can really help. SMART Recovery also offers a programme for family members and significant others.
Addiction is an illness that infiltrates all of a sufferer's relationships. Partners and family members become used to living under constant tension and fear. They also often inadvertently enable the behaviour of the person they love. Coming into recovery changes the dynamics of a relationship, this is not always easy to adapt to without help and support.
Establishing Healthy Relationships With Those Close To You
If you are working with a counsellor or recovery sponsor, they will try to help you to identify unhealthy relationships in your life. This is important, as someone close to you may be causing more harm than good. What is plain for others to see, can be difficult to acknowledge when it is all you have ever known.
There are a few ways to approach current relationships that may be holding your recovery back:
- Implement boundaries: Boundaries can be a steep learning curve if previously you have had non. Nevertheless, healthy boundaries are important in addiction recovery and can help to keep you safe in your relationships with others.
- Lean on supportive relationships: There may well be many people in your life that are very supportive of your recovery. These people will only truly want the best for you. If you feel you are lacking in supportive relationships, joining a recovery community is extremely beneficial. Like-minded others on the recovery path will understand you like no one else can and can share their experience of developing their own healthy relationships
- Don't be afraid to move on: Sometimes a relationship cannot be saved. If it is putting your recovery at risk, then cutting contact or reducing it to a minimum is recommended. You may find this hard to do, especially if the person has been in your life for a long time. People who are supportive of your recovery can help you through this and provide guidance.
Making New Healthy Relationships
Making new friends without substances can feel daunting at first. Naturally, previously, you may have only gravitated towards other substance users. Protecting your recovery means that everything has to change for the better.
Healthy relationships are mutually:
There are many ways in which you can build a healthy support network of new friends, including:
- Attending recovery meetings
- Joining a recovery community
- Taking a new class or course
- Starting a new hobby or joining a sports group
- Joining a gym
- Attending sober or spiritual events
Start Building Healthy Relationships With Like-minded Others Today
Recoverlution is an online platform dedicated to recovery well-being. By joining our recovery community for free, you will have instant online access to meetings, recovery tools and support groups. You can also connect individually with others on our platform and start your own zoom meeting or support group if you wish.
Recoverlution provides a safe space for those in recovery or seeking recovery to connect with like-minded others. We recognise the importance and power of recovery communities. Access to our platform is free and provides recovery-focused knowledge, connection and wellbeing all within the same confidential space.
- Developing Healthy Relationships in Recovery: https://www.verywellmind.com/developing-healthy-relationships-to-maintain-abstinence-69450
- Co-dependency https://www.mhanational.org/co-dependency
- How to spot and stop enabling behaviour: https://psychcentral.com/health/are-you-an-enabler
- What is a toxic relationship? https://www.healthline.com/health/toxic-relationship