An important step that is taught in 12 Step programs is to make amends to those you have wronged when you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse, 1.2 million people are affected by drug abuse in their families. With a lot of trust and honesty, it is possible for relationships to be mended during recovery.
One stage family goes through when living with an alcoholic is where relatives are concerned about the addict’s self-destructive behaviour and they have no knowledge of how worse things will get.
Then relatives will ignore or deny the reality of the addict’s situation and feel the need to protect or justify the addict’s actions.
They tolerate this and feel in some ways it is their fault. Family members feel the need to change their own behaviour as a result of the addict’s acting out making some relatives take to alcohol or drugs themselves to cope. In the final stage, all relatives are exhausted by the addict.
It helps if friends and family learn about their loved one’s condition so that they will better understand what that person is going through and how to tell an overdose. Family members and friends may feel hurt, betrayed, and angry for possibly helping that person’s cravings if they contributed financially.
Those under the influence tend to lie, steal, and say hurtful things to the ones they love as their mind is only filled with methods of feeding their addiction.
While some relationships may not be mended depending on how much damage was done, other relationships can grow stronger when they start anew.
If you are afraid to make amends with your friends and family on the phone, you can send an e-mail or write them a letter. Let them know you are in the process of putting your life back together and want to be a part of the recovery.
There is family therapy to repair dysfunctional relationships, learn about conflict resolution, and improve communication. Apologize to that person about what you have done and ask for forgiveness. Show you are sorry and willing to change by showing up on time for plans and obligations as well as doing what you say.
It will take a lot of time and patience for your loved ones to trust you again but have faith that they will one day.
Castle Craig is one of the most established and respected addiction rehab centres in the UK.
Castle Craig’s family therapy involves promoting recovery, exploring the impact of addiction, discovering adaptive strategies, residential family programs, and joining two joint sessions with the patient and the therapist. For information, call our 24-hour free confidential phone line: 0808 256 3732.
From outside the UK please call +44 1721 788 006 (normal charges apply).
Page published: February 27, 2018. Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked April 27, 2021