Addiction doesn’t just impact the life of the person who’s struggling with it; it affects the lives of their loved ones as well. Addiction is often described as a family disease.1
The idea of reconciling with family during recovery can be a bit intimidating. You may worry that your family relationships are beyond repair; however, attempting to reconcile with family can play an important role in your recovery. In this article, we’ll provide some suggestions for reconciling with family during recovery.
1. Focus on communication.
Relationships thrive on communication. If you hope to repair a damaged relationship, the first step is to open the lines of communication and keep them open. Let your loved ones know that you’ve completed addiction treatment and have committed to a sober life. Tell them you want to work on rebuilding the relationship.
It’s best to have these talks in person; if a face-to-face conversation isn’t possible, a phone call, letter, or email will suffice. Remember that your loved one may be feeling resentful and distrustful, and it may take more time and effort on your part to get a response from them.
2. Ask for forgiveness.
When you’re reconciling with family during recovery, you’ll need to regain their trust. It’s important to acknowledge the ways in which you may have hurt them while you were using. There’s no need to hold on to feelings of shame or guilt over your past actions—apologize to your loved ones and ask for their forgiveness.
Some people may be hesitant to put the past behind them and forgive you; however, if you continue to prove that you can be trusted and that you keep your promises, there’s a good chance you can re-establish a positive relationship.
3. Be patient with family during recovery.
Remember, you didn’t overcome your addiction overnight. It took a lot of time, therapy and hard work to get on the road to recovery. Your family members will need time to heal as well. Mending relationships is a slow and steady process, and you may be met with some degree of hesitation when reconciling with family during recovery. You may have loved ones who aren’t ready to put their resentment and anger behind them; others may not believe that you’re committed to sobriety. Don’t give up or feel offended by this reaction. Have patience, and understand that it may take time and consistent effort to repair the relationship and move forward with your family during recovery.
When you were deep in the throes of addiction, your actions probably changed dramatically and affected many of your loved ones.2 While these changes may have harmed your relationships, the damage doesn’t have to be permanent. Not every relationship can be salvaged, but with hard work and patience, it’s often possible to reconcile with your family during recovery and earn their trust again.