When we’re in the grips of addiction, one of the things we’re known to do is distance ourselves from the people trying to help us. We prioritize our addiction, so we push away anything or anyone threatening to get in the way of it. The separation can be especially hard on our loved ones who are consumed with worry and reeling from the pain of being pushed away. The distance we create during the course of our addiction can have lasting effects on us and our relationships.
Family and friends can have a very hard time trusting us again after we’ve pushed them so far away. They might be hesitant to give us another chance. They may feel the need to protect themselves by keeping their distance. They might be filled with fear that we’ll hurt them again in the same way, while at the same time they worry that they might contribute to our stress, causing us to relapse. Our loved ones can feel themselves caught in the dilemma of not knowing how best to help and support us.
Often when we’re struggling, the people we’ve lived with and been close to don’t fully understand addiction and all the harmful effects it can have. They most likely don’t understand our changes in behavior, personality and emotional responses. They can’t comprehend our mood swings, irritability, harshness and unkindness. Their instinct may be to want to separate themselves from us in order to protect themselves, but they will often try to stay present in our lives because they’re afraid something bad will happen to us in their absence. In this way, addiction can put our loved ones in very difficult and precarious situations, another way in which they face a dilemma in not knowing the best measures to help us.
The distance we create in our relationships can be hard to repair. We may not know how to come back from the distance once we’ve started doing the work of recovery. One of the steps in traditional addiction programs is to make amends to the people we’ve hurt. This step requires a great deal of humility and vulnerability on our parts. We have to dig deep and access our inner courage. We have to be willing to be honest about our most bitter regrets. We’re often filled with remorse and sadness at the damage done to our relationships. When that damage proves irreparable, we see that our addiction causes all kinds of destruction that we may not have been able to predict. While we may have thought our addiction was just making us suffer, we learn that the separation it has forcibly created in our relationships is another source of pain we have to work through in order to heal.
Our treatment programs allow you and your loved ones to take advantage of the weekly family therapy sessions and monthly family workshops. Call Riverside Recovery at (800) 871-5440 for more information.