Relationships and Recovery: Choosing Yourself, Choosing Your Partner

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Table of Contents

While in active addiction, the choices and decisions on how we spend our time, money, and efforts are all hinged on our drug of choice. As we enter recovery, it can be difficult to learn how to be an attentive partner and a caring friend. Since we have spent years and years catering only to our own psychological and physiological needs, we must practice new habits in order to become better friends and partners.

Identify Supportive Relationships

Recovery impacts your relationships in a big way. Treatment allows you to take stock of your relationships and how they are serving you. During this time, you will begin to create your support system, which will be essential to your sobriety. You might already have supportive people in your life. There might have already been people who asked you to seek help. There might have been people who have had your back when you struggled with addiction. There also might have been people who weren’t so supportive. In early recovery, identify which relationships are worth holding on to. Knowing which people support you and your recovery from the get-go will help you invest your time in people who are worth the effort.

If those who aren’t supportive are still important to you, then now is the time to have those difficult conversations about what recovery means to you. If they understand, they will be willing to be there for you however they can. If they don’t, it might be time to let them go.

Be Wary of Toxic Dynamics

Addiction can bring about unhealthy relationships. Codependency is common among those who care about someone with an addiction, whether intentional or not. Codependency has been described as a form of relationship addiction. Those who struggle with addiction often struggle with forming these types of relationships too. Codependent relationships involve two people who are entirely dependent on each other. Imagine a Venn diagram. Two circles overlap in the middle. A couple might meet in the middle on shared interests and activities in a healthy relationship, but there’s still life outside of their relationship. There’s no Venn Diagram in a codependent relationship—only a circle.

Codependent relationships and other unhealthy relationships can also include enabling. You might have someone in your life who seemed supportive of your addiction. They might not have intentionally supported you, but they still gave you money for drugs and alcohol, or they may have allowed you to walk all over them, or maybe even have ignored your addiction and pretended it wasn’t a problem. Enabling an addiction is dangerous. Be aware of these dynamics and call them out. There are healthier alternatives.

Repair Broken Bonds

Addiction can destroy relationships. A person suffering from addiction isn’t their best self, and as a result, their relationships can suffer. There might be broken trust, resentment, hurt, and fear that will need to be accessed in order for a healthy relationship to continue. This might be a good time to seek couple’s therapy or family counseling. Working through the problems and facing them directly can have significant benefits that will improve your relationship with your loved one and give you the tools to work through difficulties in the future.

When navigating relationships in recovery, hold yourself accountable for your actions during addiction, as well as decisions made in the present and future. Taking ownership of past mistakes can improve connections in the future. Owning the hurt you caused at your lowest point will begin the reparations needed to continue your relationship.

Practice Healthy Relationship Habits

In current and future relationships, practice healthy habits. First and foremost, establish and respect boundaries in your relationship. Boundaries are rules we set to keep ourselves safe. Boundaries might include the time you’re willing to commit to a relationship, activities you’re comfortable doing, and conversations you’re comfortable having.

Know When to Prioritize Yourself

While those with an addiction might have been called selfish more than once, it can be hard to put yourself first. However, there are times where prioritizing yourself is okay. This can be difficult if you have low self-esteem, but knowing when to choose yourself can help you build up your confidence. It isn’t selfish to care about your needs. It’s likely that during addiction, your needs were neglected.

Your needs that come first may include physical needs like exercise, eating well, and getting enough sleep. Your emotional needs include receiving love and feeling connected. Mental health needs include receiving care, space to process trauma, and support.

Relationships can be hard to navigate in recovery. Addiction can make it hard to maintain healthy connections. In recovery, we must learn how to build and maintain healthy, supportive connections. The moment you begin treatment at Jaywalker, you will learn how to develop and grow those connections.  Over time,  you’ll learn how to practice those healthy relationship habits that will help you foster strong bonds with those who matter most in your life. You’ll be able to repair what was broken and establish a connection that is stronger and healthier before.  Navigating relationships can be one of the most complex parts of life post-treatment, but after all of the work is done, you will have deeper connections like never before.

Jaywalker cares about our client’s connections. We’re all about making lasting and meaningful connections.  For more information on relationships in recovery and making healthier connections with loved ones, call us today at (866) 529-9255

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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