Whether it occurred before addiction began or once it’d already developed, toxic relationships can negatively affect the way a person views themselves – and even their life. It’s natural for every relationship to have ups and downs over time, especially as personalities, beliefs, attitudes, and values clash over certain situations. In some unfortunate cases, however, certain relationships can perpetuate a sense of toxicity; in many other cases, relationships can be broken because of the changes that are displayed in a person when active addiction is involved.
If you’ve lost important relationships throughout your life – which, if that’s the case, you’re not the only one – it can feel nerve-wracking to start over in building new relationships. We can’t always get by on surface-level conversations – to build a truly meaningful life, we have to develop a strong support system that we can lean on in times of need and during times of triumph.
There are two main types of toxic relationships that can transpire when a person battles addiction and much of this occurs in the individual’s friends or family members:
Codependent Relationships – these relationships can form when partners come to believe that love, security, and acceptance are based on taking care of their addicted loved one in the way they wish. In these relationships, a negative cycle can perpetuate which undermines a person’s sense of individuality in the relationship. It can be incredibly difficult for loved ones to say “no” to the person who is addicted, as they may be afraid to disappoint or upset them.
Enabling Relationships – many friends and family members struggle with this particular type of relationship, as they find it hard to tell their loved one that they have a problem and need help. Enabling can take place in the form of making excuses, lying, and covering up for a person who wants to continue abusing substances; some individuals may even supply their addicted loved one with money for alcohol or drugs. In these cases, many friends or family aren’t trying to consciously perpetuate the loved one’s addiction – they just may not know what to do.
These relationships are clearly not beneficial to either party’s side – and that’s why addiction recovery is the time to rebuild relationships in the best ways possible.
There are several components that make up a healthy relationship, such as honesty trust, open communication, respect and compromise between people. If you were to assess the relationships you currently have or have had in the past and compare them to this definition, could you truly say that you’ve held healthy relationships? Addiction recovery is more than simply treating an addiction; it’s also about helping people restore their sense of purpose in life along with establishing a strong support group. Healthy relationships respect each other’s privacy and space when it’s needed. They encourage each other to spend time with friends who make them feel good. They feel comfortable telling each other their thoughts and concerns or opinions, and there is a sense of safety in terms of physical and emotional wellness over the term of the relationship. In healthy relationships, both sides respect each other’s wishes and they’re often able to compromise when disagreements come up.
When these types of characteristics are present, relationships can blossom and those in recovery can feel more confident and secure of themselves.
The way a person communicates in a relationship is often more important that how committed they are to the relationship; when times get rough, it’s often an individual’s personality trait in stressful times that has the biggest influence on a relationship. In family and friend relationships, open communication is still vital – and those in recovery can learn healthy strategies towards creating and maintaining a healthy dynamic with those in their social support system.
Psychotherapy and group therapy are great outlets of addiction recovery where people can learn to develop healthy skills for navigating healthy relationships, such as working on a person’s self-esteem, talking about mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression, breaking down the walls of guilt, shame, anger, and other challenging emotions, and more. Those who’ve been in abusive relationships in the past may find that they can talk about it has affected them, and they can then learn to establish healthier boundaries for blossoming friendships and relationships.
12-Step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), along with other types of groups can propel social support by giving those in recovery a safe space to get to know others who’ve gone through similar situations. There are also other holistic practices, such as yoga and meditation, that can truly support a person’s mental health recovery as their going through addiction rehabilitation so that they can gain a greater sense of awareness in relationships.
If you’re ready to seek help, speak with a professional today.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 844-857-5992 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.