Far more then simply getting to a stage where you’ve stopped using an addictive substance, the process of recovery is about learning to regain a healthy balance in all areas of life that have been affected by addiction. This is a process that will not happen overnight, because the learned patterns of addiction we are trying to undo did not happen overnight either. Although the initial use of a drug may have been voluntary, habitual drug use alters the brain in a way that stunts its ability to make voluntary decisions, and the addiction just “takes over,” and people behave in ways they wouldn’t otherwise think possible. Goal of Recovery
One of the central tolls of an addiction is on relationships. The cycle of being influenced by a substance and then becoming obsessed with finding that substance causes an addict to become a totally different person, one unable to empathize with others, communicate clearly with someone else, or be trustworthy. The elements of a good relationship are broken, and recovery means healing those relationships, and learning how to form new ones. No human being is meant to be totally isolated from people, and so forming and repairing relationships with others is both a final goal of recovery, and one of the main things that makes recovery possible.
Work to Restore Trust. The Goal of Recovery
Sometimes, people in the beginning stages of recovery may be disappointed that what seems like a radical change in their own lives is not accepted right away from the people they know. The hurt may go down too deeply for them to forgive and trust you right away. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you try to make things better with people who were hurt by the actions you did as an addict:
Apologize for the hurt you caused, and give the other person space to fully express how he or she feels.
Actions speak louder then words, so putting effort into concrete acts of compassion and consideration are going to be seen as the main proof that you’ve changed.
Work at being as honest as possible, and as open as possible, as much as possible. People have gotten used to you not keeping your word, so it might take several times for them to realize you are now able to keep your commitments and tell the truth about your behavior.
Repairing Relationships Takes Time
Forgiveness is often a very hard process that first requires that a hurt be fully explored and expressed. Recognize that people do not have the duty to forgive, and sometimes it may take time for them to feel resolved. You are the only person responsible for your own behavior, and cannot control anyone else. Thus, your job is simply to work to make restitution and amends as much as you can on your end, and realizing it may take more time for all the wounds to fully heal. If someone else doesn’t feel like you’ve “earned” his or her forgiveness, it is best to respect that decision, and move on.
Also, there are probably going to be other people who are going to continue to love and even forgive you, but may have difficulty trusting you. Even in the throws of addiction, many people never stopped loving you, reaching out to you, and trying as hard as they could to get you to change. However, trust, a belief that you will keep your word, may take a period of displaying your honesty and commitment to change to build back up.
Your own process of recovery is proof that, with patience and hard work, change is possible. If the two of you are both committed to reestablishing trust, communication, and honesty in your relationship, then this full recovery is possible, even if it takes time.