Every year, more than four million individuals seek treatment for substance abuse disorders, including alcoholism. Successfully completing rehab is a huge accomplishment along the road to recovery. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done when you get home.
After treatment, you may notice a difference in relationships with your partner, family and even friends. The damaging effects of alcohol abuse, such as lying, stealing and cheating, can leave a lasting mark on those closest to you.
Improving a damaged or fragile relationship takes work from both parties involved. While spiteful words and painful memories cannot be erased overnight, you can gradually mend broken relationships back together.
A romantic partner or spouse is usually the person who knows you best. Sadly, alcoholism can quickly deteriorate a strong relationship. Alcohol abuse increases the risk of intimate partner violence which involves any form of physical harm, psychological abuse and forced sexual interactions. Roughly 55 percent of victims who experience intimate partner violence report that their partners were drinking before the assault occurred.
Alcoholism in romantic relationships can also lead to:
- Financial hardships
- Legal troubles
Communication is key to healing a broken relationship with your partner or spouse. Working with an alcohol counselor can prove extremely beneficial for partners who encounter problems due to alcoholism. Oftentimes, a counselor will meet with both individuals separately and together in order to find the best resolution.
Therapy sessions are an opportunity to work through challenges and learn different approaches to keep future situations from escalating. Although the topics discussed during therapy may not always be the easiest, they are necessary to growing stronger as a couple.
Alcohol abuse can take a toll on your family, including your parents, grandparents, siblings and other extended relatives. These are often the people who have watched you grow up over the years and become who you are today. Unfortunately, a loved one’s drinking problem can leave family members searching for answers or taking the blame.
Many studies have shown that a family’s participation in the recovery process can significantly help a loved one’s progress in maintaining sobriety. However, your family may not know what to do or say when interacting with you after rehab.
Take the opportunity to sit down with your family, individually or as a group, and explain ways they can help. Several ways they can offer support are taking part in local alcoholism recovery groups, like Al-Anon, or creating a substance-free environment.
Along the road to recovery, you may come across triggers that intensify your urge to drink. Surrounding yourself with a support system, like family, helps you get through times of vulnerability.
More than seven million children under the age of 18 live in a household with a parent who suffers from alcoholism. That equates to roughly one in every 10 children across the United States.
One of the biggest questions parents in recovery face is how to talk to their children about alcohol treatment. A parent’s absence at home can affect a child in many ways, including their behavior at school and home.
Make an effort to strengthen the bond with your child after treatment. You can start rebuilding trust by spending time with them every day. Some ideas include:
- Helping with homework
- Eating dinner together
- Taking part in a favorite activity, such as sports or music
- Becoming involved in school trips and classroom aid
- Talking about their day each evening
By creating fun and happy memories, you kids will begin to grow closer to you. This lays the foundation for a strong and healthy relationship for years to come.
Alcohol rehab provides you with the tools necessary for taking a deeper look at your friendships. While some peer relationships are healthy, others can be toxic. Eliminating harmful relationships, such as those who enable your dangerous drinking habits, is an important step after treatment.
Friends who helped you through troubling times and supported your recovery are relationships you’ll want to hold on to. Positive and uplifting friendships can make all the difference during your recovery.
Next time you’re around your friends, show your appreciation for them by:
- Acknowledging how much they do for you
- Making them a personalized gift
- Giving them a hug and telling them how much they mean to you
- Staying honest and sincere with them
- Helping them when they need a hand
Get your friends involved in the recovery process by talking to them about the steps you’re taking to maintain long-term sobriety. You can even include them in your recovery milestone celebrations like sobriety anniversaries. Over time, you will regain their trust, respect and loyalty.
Taking It One Day at a Time
Focusing on rebuilding relationships with romantic partners, family and friends is an important part of your recovery journey. However, it takes more than forgiving and forgetting to earn a person’s trust back. Mending a broken relationship can take weeks or months, and come with some unexpected twists and turns.
Make the commitment to work on and improve your relationships with loved ones. Remember, the foundation to a happy and healthy relationship starts with you.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). National Survey on Drug Use and Health. January 2017. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/…/Spot061ChildrenOfAlcoholics2012.pdf
World Health Organization. (2006). Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol. January 2017. http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/world_report/factsheets/fs_intimate.pdf
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help. January 2017. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/treatment/treatment.htm#chapter06
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