Recovery is a time of new beginnings, which makes it the perfect time to work on creating stronger bonds with family and friends. Relationships take consistent time and effort, but the team at Mountain Laurel Recovery Center’s Pennsylvania drug and alcohol addiction treatment program has assembled this list of tips to help guide you through the process.
Make It Priority to Spend Quality Time with the People You Care About
Relationships flourish when they’re treated as a priority, so make an effort to connect with family and friends regularly. Don’t wait for the other person to contact you—reach out and take the initiative.
Planning quality time together doesn’t need to be difficult. Some ideas to consider include:
- Go for a walk, ride a bike, or exercise outside.
- Watch a movie at home.
- Create your own book club.
- Break out a favorite board game, or play video games together.
- Paint, draw, or try a new craft together.
- Try a new recipe and enjoy a delicious meal.
If distance is an issue, keep in mind that video chat applications such as Zoom make it possible to enjoy many of these activities virtually.
Create New Traditions
Now that you’re in recovery, it’s the perfect time to create new traditions that honor your wellness-focused approach to life. Often, people with substance use disorders associate holidays and special occasions with drinking or using drugs.
Finding sober ways to celebrate helps keep you on the path to a lasting recovery while giving you a chance to make new memories with the people you care about. For example, instead of celebrating a birthday with a round of drinks, you could enjoy s’mores in your backyard or plan a virtual karaoke night.
Just as no one is perfect, no relationship is going to be perfect. Resist the temptation to hold your loved ones to impossibly high standards.
When your friend or family member is struggling, offer support and encouragement. When they make a mistake or hurt your feelings, try to find it in your heart to offer forgiveness. Strive to be a source of positivity for the people you care about.
Communicate with Love and Kindness
Healthy communication is essential to forming strong relationships. Key tips to remember include:
- When your loved one is talking, give them your full attention. Put away your phone or other distractions. Listen patiently and without interrupting.
- Don’t make unfounded assumptions. You are not a mind reader. Don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking or feeling.
- Ask for what you need. Waiting for others to anticipate your needs is a recipe for disappointment. If you need help, make a direct request.
- If you need to talk about a sensitive subject, choose a quiet and private place. Give the other person time to process their thoughts before demanding an answer.
- When you’re angry, take a deep breath and walk away instead of giving in to the temptation to yell or verbally lash out.
- Watch your body language. We often overlook the impact nonverbal communication has on our relationships. Smiling and making frequent eye contact sends a positive message. Rolling your eyes, sighing with exasperation, or sitting with your arms crossed over your chest sends the message that you’re either upset or don’t respect the person you are talking to.
It’s hard to build a strong relationship with someone you feel is not trustworthy, reliable, or responsible. While you may have made mistakes in the past due to your previous substance abuse, you have the power to change the future.
You can start being accountable for your actions by making a sincere apology for the harm or hurt you’ve caused in the past. Acknowledge how you made your friend or family member feel, express your regret, and talk about what you are doing to change your behavior so you can make positive choices going forward.
Being accountable in recovery means:
- Honoring your commitments, such as showing up for appointments on time or calling to provide notice if your plans change and you can’t be someplace
- Admitting when you’ve made a mistake, instead of blaming your problems on others
- Reaching out to help others when you have the ability to do so
- Trying your best to make ethical and wise decisions—even when no one is watching
Use the Resources that Are Available to You
Mountain Laurel Recovery Center offers a family program that helps educate spouses, parents, and other family members on addiction as well as how to create healthy relationships in recovery. Additional family counseling or couples counseling may also be beneficial as part of your continuum of care plan. Speak with your treatment team to learn what resources can help you find the best way to move forward.