Do you wish to rebuild relationships in recovery but feel unsure where to begin? You are not alone in feeling this way, as many recovering individuals find relationship skills the most challenging issue to relearn. This is also why many recovery centers now offer life skills and relationship skills coaching.
Why People in Early Recovery Struggle With Relationship Skills
Substance addiction changes relationships. Many families—parents, children, spouses, siblings, and others—find the very foundation of their relationships broken due to a loved one’s addiction. The destructive effects of addiction often include lies, secrecy, anger, abuse, neglect, emotional distancing, and much more.
For example, addiction may lead to physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. Because drugs and alcohol cause people to act impulsively and irrationally, this can translate to or cause trauma in family members around them. None of the isolation, mood swings, and irritability that individuals stuck in addiction experience contribute to healthy relationships.
People with substance use disorder (SUD) may lose interest in relationships when they are preoccupied with substance use. They may no longer desire the pleasure of spending quality time with family and friends. The pleasure center of their brain has been hijacked by chemicals. Over time, substances change the neurological pathways in the brain, leading to behavioral shifts. This is why family and friends often feel that the one suffering from SUD has become different.
Relearning Relationship Skills
It is never too late to make amends if one truly cares for their friends and family. The first step in the process of rebuilding relationships is to own up to past mistakes. Honesty is the foundation of every healthy relationship. Once the recovering individual expresses regret over past happenings that caused harm and pain, they can then begin to reverse the damage.
Relationship skills are complicated, even for people with no substance addiction history. Repairing broken relationships is challenging work. Navigating family dynamics can become emotionally draining. Unfortunately, not all relationships may be fixable. If it comes down to maintaining sobriety or continuing to pursue a relationship with someone who won’t accept the changes, progress, and amends an individual has made, sobriety must remain the first priority.
Is It Too Soon to Start New Relationships?
Many people look forward to a new page in life once they complete rehab. They may want to find new friends and get engaged socially. However, recovering individuals need to consider the potential threats to their sobriety when making new friends. For example, do these friends use drugs or alcohol? Will they bring the individual to social events that trigger cravings?
When it comes to romantic relationships, many experts discourage people in early sobriety to begin dating, considering how much emotional strain new romantic relationships may bring. Building new relationships need a certain level of emotional stability, and not everyone in early sobriety has achieved that yet. Further, some relationships may become a replacement addiction with co-dependency issues.
How Health Professionals Can Help
In life skills or adulting classes, health professionals will first teach you about the qualities that make relationships healthy. A healthy relationship involves mutual respect and understanding. It makes both parties feel happy and safe.
Healthy relationships are built upon healthy boundaries. Having a solid foundation of mutual trust, respect, care, and kindness is what makes a relationship healthy and long-lasting. Without boundaries, people may feel uncomfortable or belittled when their needs are not met or their lines are crossed. With a relationship skills course, individuals can learn to create, maintain, and respect boundaries.
Apart from these values, health professionals can teach basic self-management skills like taking care of personal hygiene, cooking meals, and keeping a tidy home. When people are their best for themselves, they can be their best in their relationships.
Building relaxation and stress management skills into individuals’ life rhythm will help them stay calm in navigating relationships. Most important of all, individuals need to relearn how to verbalize and process emotions in a healthy way. Friendships or close companionships are based on communication.
How Do I Deepen Relationships in Recovery?
Emotional intelligence and self-awareness are necessary to nurture a mutually beneficial relationship. In building a strong connection with another person, individuals must be aware of their own shortcomings and character flaws. This does not mean that they should take on all the blame in the relationship, but that they need to own their imperfections and make amends for them when necessary.
To deepen a relationship, people must be open and vulnerable. While in residential treatment, individuals learn to share with openness and vulnerability from therapists and peer group meetings. These concepts translate to all relationships, whether familial, friend, or romantic, and should be applied to facilitate deepening connections and better relationship dynamics.
Are you looking for life skills or adulting classes that teach relationship skills, including listening and communication skills? At Laguna Shores Recovery, our health professionals coach people to know how and where to meet other people, resolve conflicts, put forward one’s best self on social media, and make meaningful connections with others in real life. Other relationship skills include increasing emotional intelligence and soft skills. At Laguna Shores, you will experience the benefits of high-quality “adulting” coaching alongside innovative, holistic addiction treatment. We strive to provide customized programs to ensure the best treatment for you. Schedule an appointment with a licensed mental healthcare professional or therapist at Laguna Shores Recovery today. We help you enter a new page in life and enjoy healthy relationship-building. You do not need to look elsewhere for support. Call us at (866) 906-3203 to find out more.