Developing Healthy Relationships in Recovery


Overwhelming grief is an interesting thing. When we are grieving, we need compassion and support more than ever – however, we are also more inclined to push our friends and our loved ones far, far away. When we think of grief, we typically think of mourning loss. Grieving the death of a family member, the end of a long-term relationship, or the culmination of a fruitful career. It is important to note, however, that we also grieve loss of self… the loss of self that occurs when we are battling a devastating addiction, or attempting to cope with a significant trauma. When we begin to lose sight of ourselves, we are naturally inclined to push others away, denying the support we know – in the core of our beings – we desperately need. Why do we do this? It may have something to do with the way we feel about ourselves; a lack of self-identity and self-worth will inevitably lead to feelings of helplessness… we have no idea what it is we need, so how would we know what to ask for? We may feel shame, fear, or self-disgust. We may believe that we are undeserving of help; we may even begin to believe that we would be better off dead.

This is a dark place to be, especially when you find yourself all alone. Those of us who have struggled through an active addiction or grappled with an unresolved trauma have undoubtedly been there, and know what a difficult place it is to escape from. In order to begin healing, we need to understand that we will likely never successfully escape unless we become willing to ask for and receive help from others.

Relationships in Recovery

Asking for help is only the very first step of beginning to form meaningful (and vital) relationships with others. Once we do this, we open ourselves up to vulnerable and authentic connection. Of course, many of us will not inherently know how to nurture and sustain healthy and functional relationships. After all, we have spent years of our lives avoiding close, intimate contact – opting instead for isolation, obsession, and mock-relationships built exclusively on manipulation and self-involvement. Perhaps we fooled ourselves into thinking we had formed solid and lasting friendships while active in our addictions, only to find out that as soon as the drugs and money ran out, we were truly all alone. Perhaps we avoided vulnerability and emotional connectedness after being traumatized at an early age, convincing ourselves that a life of loneliness was better than a life of pain – pain caused by others. Who could be trusted?

Because we either close ourselves off or live a life of delusion, we are unequipped to forge authentic relationships when we first enter into recovery. We need to relearn how to do so (or learn for the very first time, as the case may be). Entering into an inpatient treatment program is an ideal way to lay a solid foundation for continuous interpersonal health. Therapeutic groups are structured to facilitate advantageous interactions – healthy communication, effective boundary setting, and camaraderie. Many inpatient treatment facilities, including Next Chapter, utilize adventure therapy to help strengthen bonds and promote positive risk-taking (and the healthy peer encouragement that goes hand-in-hand with taking positive risks).

Our dedicated team of experienced professionals work closely alongside each of our patients, teaching them to treat others – and themselves – with an appropriate level of respect.

Healthy and Functional Relationships

As time goes on, those of us in recovery will learn how to interact with others in a healthy and mutually beneficial way. Eventually, we will begin to develop relationships based on honesty and openness, and we will begin healing those relationships we unwittingly damaged in the past. We will learn to take responsibility for our own actions, and do for others without first considering what is ‘in it’ for us. We will grow less afraid of vulnerability as we realize that not everyone is out to get us. Life without human connection is life void of true significance. Rather than continuously deny yourself fulfillment, why not take a chance on recovery? For more information on our comprehensive program of trauma and substance abuse recovery, please contact us today.