Addiction is lonely, but recovery from addiction doesn’t happen in isolation. Recovery from addiction requires a support team with a lot of different players. That means building healthy relationships with different people, which isn’t always easy.
Addiction robs people of their ability to build and maintain healthy relationships because the primary relationship is with alcohol or drugs. Once you have detoxed and are on the path to recovery, it’s time to start building healthy relationships that will help you along the way. It may seem like a challenge, but it’s possible to accomplish in five steps.
Step 1. Seek Out Supportive Relationships
One of the first things you have to do when you enroll at an addiction treatment center is to really take a hard look at your past and current relationships. People who have substance use disorders (SUD) often have been in very negative relationships, which contribute to the addiction. Usually during the addiction the people you are around the most are people who support the drug or alcohol use in one way or another.
To give yourself the best shot at long-term sobriety you have to end negative relationships that support your addiction rather than your recovery. Those relationships need to be replaced with people that can help you maintain a positive outlook and fully support your sobriety
People who are enrolled in programs at addiction treatment centers are able to build healthy relationships with their therapists, recovery coaches, support staff and other patients. Residing at a Sober Living Home in Dallas helps our patients create a whole other support system with peers and mentors.
Step 2. Practice Effective Communication
Communication is the key to any relationship. It’s so important communication is one of the life skills that we include in programs at our Dallas addiction center.
A person who communicates effectively can express themselves clearly and is a good listener. That’s often easier said than done with so many distractions all around and emotions that can get in the way of words. Ultimately, effective communication is unique for each person because we all communicate differently. Working with someone you trust who can provide an outside perspective on your communication skills can help you become a better communicator.
Step 3. Be Mindful of Codependency
As you go through a program at an addiction recovery center you’ll learn about relationship dynamics, including something called codependency. It’s okay to rely on people from time to time, but codependency is an unhealthy need to please another person. That’s especially unhealthy if the other person takes advantage of the codependency or manipulates the codependent party.
For some people, codependency was a factor in their addiction. People who are codependent don’t set boundaries and that can trigger addiction. If you focus on having positive relationships and setting boundaries, codependency should be less of an issue.
On the flip side, you may already have relationships with codependent people who enabled your addiction. If that’s the case, you may need to limit or cease interaction with them early in recovery. At the very least you need to have an honest discussion with the person about reframing the relationship so that codependency doesn’t become a problem.
Step 4. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
Relationships take work. If you are trying to juggle too many relationships it can feel overwhelming and stressful rather than beneficial.
There’s some interesting research from an anthropologist named Robin Dunbar who came up with a theory about relationships. Dunbar’s number theory states that a person can manage no more than 150 relationships. That means you personally know up to 150 people.
BUT that doesn’t mean you have close relationships with them all. Your inner circle should ideally include just five people. Then there should be up to 15 close friends just outside of the inner circle. After that there are up to 50 friends and the rest are meaningful contacts.
In recovery it’s a good idea to really focus your efforts just on the two inner circles. These are your close family members, a significant other, very close friends and your addiction treatment support team.
It can help to compartmentalize your relationships. For example, you can have relationships with your medical support team, family relationships and peer relationships. Each one is separate so that the relationships are easier to manage.
Step 5. Focus on Your Relationship With Yourself
Too often we forget about our relationship with ourselves. But how can you have healthy relationships with others if you don’t have a good relationship with yourself? It all starts with you, so it’s important to work on that relationship to make it stronger.
Get to Know Yourself – It’s amazing how little we know about ourselves sometimes. We’re so busy looking outward that we don’t turn inward enough to reflect on who we are and what we value in life. Two effective ways to get to know yourself better is through meditation and talk therapy.
Practice Positive Self-Talk – We all talk to ourselves (self-talk), and it can be positive or negative. Put yourself in a better mindset by keeping your self-talk as positive and loving as possible.
Give Yourself a Break – Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a good friend. That will help you give yourself some grace just as you would do for others.
Put Yourself First – Remember the boundary setting mentioned above? It’s important to put yourself first at times for your own mental and physical well-being. That might mean saying no to others so that you have time for yourself. It could also mean ending relationships if the other person doesn’t understand that you need time to take care of yourself.
If you would like to know more about Sober Living options and the available treatment programs at Dallas addiction centers you can give our admissions team a call.