How to Rebuild Relationships after Alcohol Addiction

Life with an alcoholic is chaotic and unpredictable. Partners and families of alcoholics deal with the fallout of the illness, which typically include betrayals, broken promises and one disappointment after another.

Frequently, relationships are damaged by legal or financial problems, and sometimes domestic violence enters the picture when a family member is in the grip of addiction. Life becomes mentally and physically exhausting, and hurt and resentment grow with each passing day.

If you’ve completed drug and alcohol treatment or rehab, you have every right to be proud. However, repairing a relationship damaged by alcoholism doesn’t happen overnight. Rebuilding trust requires hard work and commitment.

If you’re serious about rebuilding a relationship after alcohol addiction, be patient and steadfast, and don’t surprised if you come up against some resistance.

Here are a few helpful suggestions for rebuilding relationships after drug and alcohol treatment or rehab:

Make a commitment to be trustworthy, then stand by your word every day. Do what you say you’ll do. Show up on time. Call if you’ll be late. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Be transparent, as you may have been deceitful during your struggles with alcoholism. Whenever possible, tell your partner exactly where you’re going, who’ll you’ll be with, and what you’ll be doing. Don’t hide your emails, bank account or appointment book. Your openness will go a long way towards building trust, especially in the early days after you’ve completed drug and alcohol treatment.

Apologize. Admit you’ve made mistakes while in the throes of addiction, and acknowledge that you’ve hurt people you love. Make sincere and honest apologies, but be patient. True forgiveness may take time.

Allow the other person to express their anger and disappointment. Take their feelings seriously. Don’t make excuses and try not to be defensive.

Work on rebuilding the structure of your life. Get back to work as soon as possible. Have fun with family and sober friends. Engage in healthy activities.  Have dinner together. Help your kids with their homework and attend their activities.

Improve your communication skills. Practice listening and responding calmly, without judgment. Don’t interrupt and don’t make assumptions or jump to conclusions. Think about how the other person feels.

Forgive yourself. Let go of shame and guilt and accept your failures and misdeeds. You can’t change mistakes of the past, but you can build a better life as you go forward.

Show your appreciation for people who have helped you. Acknowledge those who have remained by your side through thick and thin.

Commit to your aftercare or relapse prevention program. Keep appointments with counselors or therapists. Do your homework. Attend meetings if a Twelve-Step group is part of your healing process. Don’t hesitate to seek help or return to treatment if your cravings are out of control.

See a marriage counselor or family therapist. Seek professional help if you and your partner need work on difficult or unresolved issues. Accept that sometimes, the damage may be beyond repair.

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