Repairing Personal and Professional Relationships in Recovery

To heal and re-establish trust, it’s essential to understand that your life won’t suddenly get better when you give up an addiction. Once the fog of substance abuse begins to lift, recovering individuals need to focus on repairing any potentially broken bridges with the people damaged by their addictive behavior.

Those combating alcohol and drug addiction must confront the consequences of their past actions while they were in active use. Even if the damage caused wasn’t by choice, it’s essential to make amends with employers, partners, family members, and friends that may have been hurt during this time in order for them to recognize your remorse and find trust in you again. Taking ownership of your actions is paramount when striving toward recovery.

However, it can be difficult for people to forgive past hurts inflicted by your addiction. They may need time and healing before they are able to move forward. In some circumstances, family members might have been forced to deceive others about their beloved one’s shortcomings in order to protect them. Similarly, friends could have experienced a roller coaster of emotions while watching the addictive process take place over and over again.

Despite the fact that trust and connection are often lost in these situations, it doesn’t mean all hope for a relationship with someone should be abandoned. In reality, relationships can still be mended if both parties are willing to make an effort and exercise patience. Understandably this may take some time, but as long as you remain consistent in your efforts, reconciliation is possible.


Tips for Restoring Trust

Demonstrate to your employer, peers, and family that you can be counted on again by building trust in yourself first. Show them through your actions that things have changed this time around. Make promises you know you can keep and become more responsible at work. Not only will developing a habit of staying true show a genuine effort, but it is also essential for rebuilding broken trust. It may take some time before those closest to you fully believe in the transformation, yet having confidence in yourself throughout the process will result in extraordinary effects.


Set Realistic Expectations

Despite feeling confident about the strides you have taken in early recovery, addressing past conflict and hurtful behavior can be an ongoing process. Don’t expect to make up for everything overnight with a heartfelt apology. But the positive action of attempting to rebuild relationships is already a victory. As you continue on this journey, remember to celebrate even small progress as it comes.


Keep Your Word

Honesty and follow-through are essential cornerstones of demonstrating your trustworthiness. Those around you may be scrutinizing you more closely, so this is a prime opportunity to prove that honesty is at the forefront of your mind. Honor post-treatment plans and make sure to keep appointments on time as well. These small everyday actions will paint an accurate portrait of someone with integrity over time. Show those closest to you that sobriety remains of utmost importance in thought and action.


Learn Healthy Communication Methods

Communication is a two-way process that involves both speaking and hearing. Unfortunately, many people are so focused on making their own point during a conversation that they don’t pay attention to what the other person is saying. This hinders meaningful discourse as there isn’t an atmosphere of healthy exchange if one party only listens when it’s time to speak again.

While undergoing treatment, you can discover powerful ways to converse with others and truly hear what someone is communicating. Through this process, there are constructive approaches for managing conflicts that don’t lead a person to rely on drugs or alcohol in order to cope.

Instead of using damaging techniques such as emotional blackmail, guilt-tripping, or scare tactics you may have used in the past, you’ll discover how to flawlessly tackle issues with productive dialogue. Adopting effective communication skills not only diminishes the likelihood of petty arguments but also educates people on what steps should be taken if tension rises.


Leave Lines of Communication Wide Open

People struggling with addiction may feel the need to withdraw and conceal their behavior, making it difficult to reconnect with colleagues and loved ones in the early stages of recovery. However, re-establishing honest communication is essential for rebuilding trust. With effort, repairing relationships can be accomplished and lead to a successful recovery.

Staying connected with your friends and family members may appear intimidating, but ensuring you remain in contact and maintain a positive and healthy relationship is essential. Those closest to someone battling addiction will often become stressed about their whereabouts if not in constant contact. But by being available for communication, you can help ease some of those concerns.

Additionally, setting up a weekly check-in time establishes a strong foundation of trust between both parties. When you keep your loved ones informed by letting them know what you’re feeling, worried about, and wishing for throughout the treatment process, it can help to significantly reduce their own anxieties.


Eliminate Unhealthy Relationships

It’s essential to remember that not all relationships are beneficial for your health. Those individuals who have been, or still continue, using drugs and alcohol should no longer be a part of your life. The same is true for those with abusive tendencies. They don’t need to factor into your life either. Such associations will only cause you more harm than good, hindering any progress made in recovery and increasing risks of relapse along the way.


Practice Patience

Regaining trust will undoubtedly be a long road. After substantial betrayal, it can take years for the trust to return. Those struggling with substance abuse prioritize their cravings over anything else and often resort to dishonesty, fraudulence, or thievery to obtain what they need. Furthermore, hiding addictive behavior from others is part of this cycle that perpetuates its own existence.

It takes a great deal of patience to regain the trust of those you hurt during your addiction. Feelings were undoubtedly hurt, and relationships were damaged. Patience gives both parties the time they need to heal and move forward, allowing them freedom in forgiving or assessing levels of trust. With time, communication between them will be more comfortable, allowing bonds to form once again.

The reality is that you cannot expect to gain everyone’s trust overnight. This is a gradual process that must be done carefully yet deliberately for it to work effectively.

Returning to Work and Building Success After Rehab

As long as your job doesn’t place you in harm’s way with the use of drugs or alcohol, you should seriously consider returning to it. For most, returning to their prior job is a suitable step in recovery, even if it’s only temporary. You have accomplished so much by getting here. Your resilience deserves recognition, and your dedication and hard work should be celebrated.

To stay on track once you’ve secured your job, it’s essential to fulfill your promises to your employer. The surest way of doing that is by dedicating your energy and attention toward recovery and being better.

You can do this by:

  • Maintaining a professional image. Looking the part is often a key element to success in the workplace. So be sure to dress appropriately for your role and maintain a professional appearance.
  • Getting to know your coworkers. Demonstrating enthusiasm for your new coworkers will leave a lasting and positive impression.
  • Offering your help on projects. Demonstrating this kind of initiative is certain to gain the attention of your superiors.
  • Attending company events. Demonstrating your commitment and enthusiasm for the team both inside and outside of work will truly show that you are a dedicated employee.
  • Continuing with your recovery. Don’t forget to prioritize your mental health by routinely attending counseling sessions and joining support groups.


Finding Your New Normal

For anyone transitioning back into society after rehab, it can be difficult to adjust and find peace in their new normal. Fortunately, getting a job or returning to an old one offers the opportunity for addiction recovery patients to experience a sense of purpose again. Knowing that coworkers are counting on them provides ample motivation for individuals in recovery to stay sober and thrive at work. In turn, gaining employment helps reinforce sobriety and encourages success both inside and outside the workplace.

Struggling to manage employment and all of life’s other responsibilities after recovery may seem almost impossible. But a healthier, happier, drug-free lifestyle makes the effort more than worth it.


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The Union Workforce Initiative is for educational, training, and awareness purposes only. This is not an Employee Assistance Program. We help build awareness within the workforces of employer/employee assistance professionals, substance abuse professionals, nurses, doctors, and other educational professionals.