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DR. MANEJWALA

Repairing Relationships During and After Recovery

September 7, 2016

 Addiction is a national problem. There are 12 - 13 million alcoholics in the U.S and 1- 2 million cocaine addicts in the U.S, not to mention the huge numbers of individuals addicted to other addictive drugs. That means that there are a huge number of relationships in the country that are being negatively impacted because of drugs and alcohol.


Addiction doesn’t just cause damage to the body and to the mind of the sufferer: it can also irreparably damage their relationships with those around them, particularly those that they are closest to. Addiction is a time-consuming, all-encompassing endeavor, meaning that most addicts spend all their time taking drugs or alcohol, thinking about taking drugs, or alcohol and sourcing either the drugs themselves or the fund they need in order to procure them. This leaves drug addicts with very little time to nurture their relationships, leaving their loved ones feeling abandoned, neglected and let down. Addicts are often single minded and selfish: the desire to pursue addictive behaviors is an individual one that leaves no room for family, friends and loved ones.. This is why addicts often find their relationships suffer: whilst almost 50 per cent of all American marriages that will end in divorce, this rate is significantly higher if one spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol. In fact, a recent study found that each liter of alcohol consumed by an individual per anum raises the likelihood of a marriage ending in divorce by 20%. Loving an addict isn’t easy, and often the only hope for the survival of the relationship is to commit to entering recovery.


The Rocky Road to Recovery
The road to recovery is not an easy one: it is a long road marked with pot holes and extreme twists and turns. There are often setbacks and relapses are not uncommon. This can take a toll on the emotional and mental health of loved ones who are so invested in the concept of recovery saving their relationship, and adjusting the behaviour and personality of their spouse for the better.  It is unrealistic to expect that life will immediately become better simply because you or someone that you love has decided to enter recovery and, in and of itself, that simply isn’t enough to repair relationships with your friends and loved ones.  The threat of divorce is not usually enough to get an addicted individual to seek support, and rehabilitation is generally only successful if the addict wants to change for themselves, not simply to save their marriage or as a result of an ultimatum from a loved one. However once an individual has chosen to enter rehab, it is possible to repair broken relationships that have been damaged because of addiction.


Seek Professional Support
In conjunction with a robust drug rehabilitation programme or twelve steps programme, it can be helpful for couples where one individual is struggling with addiction to find a therapist in their community who specializes in addictive illness and recovery, and works with couples to support their relationship throughout the process. There are also some fantastic companion support programmes, such as CoDA (Codependents Anonymous), ACoA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) which can help those loved ones to find their own support network and process the emotional, mental, and physical toll that loving an addict can often inflict. It is important not to underestimate the impact that being in an addicted relationship can have on the partner who is not addicted. Waiting up at night, wondering if your partner is going to come home or not, dealing with their physical and mental health issues can in turn impact your own physical and mental health. Whilst it is certainly possible to save a relationship in these circumstances, this will take commitment, and a determination to help that relationship succeed.
 
Citations
“The addicts recovery process: steps in rebuilding trust”, The Huffington Post, 
“Compassion: An essential ingredient of recovery”,  Recovery.org,
“Mending strained relationships caused by addiction”, Prescott House,
Rebuilding relationships in early recovery”, Psych Central,
“Substance abuse and intimate relationships”, American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy,
“Everything you need to know about divorce – facts, statistics and race”, WF Lawyers,

 

photo credit: Eva & Casey Cheeks Wedding via photopin (license)

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