Addiction is a demon that requires a concerted and committed effort to overcome. One’s relationship with oneself is the first and most important to establish, especially considering that often, the addictive behavior stemmed from some dysfunction in that most basic of relationships. It will be found that those recovering from addiction need time and space to find themselves, to discover or reconnect with the goals and aspirations of the time before addiction, or set new ones. This involves a good deal of soul-searching and introspection.
Relationships can either bolster or bungle a recovery. Many addicts drive away those who had their best interests at heart, while fostering relationships with those who enabled their destructive behavior. Ending or at least establishing boundaries with the latter can be key to changing those patterns of behavior that resulted in the addiction in the first place. In either case, individual healing must precede relationship healing, as described in the William L. White papers from Chestnut Health Systems.
One year is the often-recommended time frame for those in recovery to heal themselves before committing to a new relationship. This is not to say that friendships can’t be established, but this must be taken slowly. A fast friendships with a fellow addict, for example, could have disastrous results if the friend failed in the recovery effort. At the same time, connecting with someone who has successfully traveled the road to recovery can be inspiring. The key is to take it slow, honoring oneself and one’s process as priority. Addiction.com provides Golden Rules for Relationships When You’re in Recovery, starting with the one-year time frame as the first point.
Finding the Way
1. Find yourself first. This includes establishing goals or at least a path for your post-recovery life. Discover or rediscover your passions. Take plenty of time for this journey. It will be your foundation.
2. Strengthen connections with those who see the best in you, and who exemplify the traits you wish to nurture in yourself.
3. Recognize destructive relationships, including any that lessen your power or abilities, or subscribe to the idea that your addiction was acceptable. Establish appropriate distance and boundaries.
4. Stay away from situations where you are exposed to the addictive substance(s) and/or behavior(s), and from those who would not respect and be supportive of your need to do so.