When you go to rehab for addiction, you have one thing on your mind: getting better. Rehab, in a way, is a selfish thing. In order to succeed at getting sober, you have to focus on you. When you leave rehab, you have not only a new life to live, but also a big mess to face. One of the most important messes to clean up after rehab is the relationship mess. You probably wrecked all kinds of relationships with people from your parents to your romantic partner, your friends and even your coworkers. Here’s how you get those relationships back on track.
- Apologize, but also listen. Being genuinely apologetic for everything you did, and whatever you didn’t do but should have, during your time at the bottom of the addiction barrel is crucial for rebuilding your relationships. However, it’s also important that you listen to those you hurt. Let them talk to you and vent. They need you to know how they felt when you hurt them, so let them talk and be a good listener.
- Actively make amends. You don’t have to be a part of a 12-step program to benefit from making amends. It’s just the decent thing to do. If you stole money from your mom, pay her back. If you hurt someone in a more abstract way, you’ll have to get creative, but it’s important that you do. Words only go so far. If you really want to repair your relationships, your actions need to show that you care.
- Put in the time. Just because you are out of rehab does not mean that you are done with addiction treatment or that you have recovered. You will need to continue to put time into treatment, staying sober and improving yourself. Make sure you don’t get lost in the process, though, and that you carve out time for other people. Making time for someone is a great way to show that you care and that you are serious about the relationship.
- Work on trust. One of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship, and often the one most damaged by addiction, is trust. If you have no trust in your relationships or if you lost it because of your addiction, it is essential to rebuilt it. Destroying trust doesn’t take much, but building it back up takes effort and it takes time. Be patient and rebuild that trust by never letting your friends or family down. Do what you say you will do, be there to support them when they need you and be transparent. When you share what you feel, think and need, people will trust you more. Being secretive or closed off will only hamper your efforts to build trust.
- Communicate well. Another important trait of a good relationship is communication. Without good communication, your intentions and your needs get lost. Talk openly to the people you care about most. Tell them what you need and ask questions about their needs. If something is bothering you, don’t let it fester. Get it out in the open and talk about it. Clear communication prevents problems and helps to establish intimacy and trust.
Rebuilding relationships after rehab isn’t easy. You likely wreaked a lot of havoc as an addict, like Godzilla stomping on a city. Bringing it all down didn’t take much effort, but building it back up will. Be patient, take your time and be genuine as you work to repair your relationships and you will reap the rewards.