In early recovery, it is common for the newly sober addict to feel elation, invincibility, and a newfound willingness to right all the wrongs of their past. If they are choosing to go through the Twelve Steps, this is addressed in the 7th Step, also known as the Amends process. This is an emotional process for all involved, and there is a method to it that sponsors and certified counselors do their best to prepare everyone for.
While in addiction, the addict harms those around them, and is often not aware or clear-headed enough to even know what transpired. Their actions are difficult to understand, and may be difficult to forgive. Those affected are often left reeling, hurt, and are consequently skeptical of repairing the damage done. The newly recovered person must be prepared for their loved ones to be unable to or unwilling to participate in any repairing conversation to begin until there has been a substantial amount of recovery time.
For someone with substance use disorder, taking the steps toward recovery and sticking to them are a big deal, and it’s a great start in repatching relationships. As one moves forward with their recovery and continues to make the right decisions, their family and friends will take notice. With transparency, earnestness, and a true desire to change, relationships will strengthen and grow. The best way to display willingness is to continue putting in the time and effort.
What can loved ones do to help?
As a family member or friend of someone in recovery, your support will help immensely. Set healthy boundaries for yourself, and stay in tune with your feelings about the person you are hoping to reconnect with. Writing a letter to first reconnect is a soft way to first reach out, and allows for more thoughtful correspondence. As more time passes and your loved one continues on their path to recovery, a phone call or meeting for a coffee can allow for more in-depth conversations and getting reacquainted.
Make sure that you have enough support for yourself. There are support groups available, such as our Family Meeting, that can help with questions and provide general kinship with others who have experienced the same.
Know that this is not an overnight process. Everyone involved in addiction has been hurt, and it will take time to build anew. Stay involved with the process (as much as you feel comfortable), and know that you aren’t alone. We are here to help along the way.