If you’re suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder, you know how bad it can be. At first, you may try to hide your behavior, but eventually, people will start to notice. You may begin lashing out at your loved ones when they bring up your personality changes, causing a rift. You could even steal from them to help fuel your addiction. Whatever the case, it’s clear that AUD alcohol abuse and healthy relationships don’t mix.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up all hope. If you value the people in your life, you can use them as motivation to help you stay accountable. Learn more about what it means to have a healthy relationship and how you can finally get sober once and for all, with the help and support of your friends.
What Is a Healthy Relationship?
In many cases, having alcohol use disorder can skew your perception of a healthy relationship. You might not remember how to treat people. This is especially true if you grew up without having an example of a healthy relationship in your life.
First and foremost, a healthy relationship should have good communication. It’s important to be honest and open about your feelings and listen when others are expressing themselves. For example, if a loved one is telling you how much you hurt them with your behavior, don’t just cast their views aside. Try to understand where they’re coming from.
Healthy relationships also include trust. People need to be able to rely on you to be responsible for your behaviors and do what you say you will. Chances are, you’ve promised again and again you’ll get sober. After many broken promises, people won’t believe you anymore. That trust can be broken.
Finally, a healthy relationship has healthy boundaries. You need to set limits for what is and isn’t acceptable in your life. More importantly , though, you need to respect the boundaries of others. If friends and loved one set boundaries they’ve told you they don’t want to deal with you until you’re sober, don’t get mad at them instead honour those boundaries. They’ve established a boundary, and you need to honour that.
Ways You Might Abuse a Relationship While Using Alcohol
It’s easy to abuse the above tenets when you’re under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol can make you lie to others, breaking down the bonds of honesty and trust. If you’re low on money, you might resort to stealing from your loved ones. Sometimes, you might even manipulate people to get your way. This could involve getting them to cover up your drunken behavior or taking advantage of their hospitality.
Even if you’re not outright abusive, you’ll probably find yourself becoming more and more distant from family and friends. You might become withdrawn and seek out less social support, abandoning your loved ones.
All of this can leave you feeling isolated and bereft of a reason to stay sober.
How to Make Amends
Making amends is tough, especially if you’ve burned bridges in the past. However, it’s essential to repairing your relationships and having something to stay sober for.
It’s normal to feel shame for the way you acted while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol can skew your perception and make you lash out in ways you never thought possible. Therefore, make sure you can forgive yourself for your actions first. After all, if you can’t forgive yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?
Next comes the tough part — making contact with those you’ve wronged. Be upfront and honest about your intentions. When possible, always try to repay any money you stole or provide compensation for any property you might have damaged. Note that you’re really trying to change, and you want to apologize for what you’ve done. They may be reluctant to accept your apology, and that’s okay. As long as you can stay sober and prove to them you mean it, over time, they may open back up to you.
How to Ask for Help
Once you’ve repaired your relationships, now you can ask for help. Remember that it is not the responsibility of your loved ones to keep you sober. They have their own mental well-being to consider, especially if you’ve been a challenge for them in the past. Never try and guilt or shame them into helping you.
Remember the tips for a healthy relationship above? Be honest and open about what kind of support you need. Maybe you need someone to share your feelings with, or maybe you need someone to take your mind off potential triggers. If you show you’re vulnerable and ready to change, your loved ones will be more willing to help.
How to Maintain Your Relationships Through Recovery
Now that you’ve repaired your relationships, you have to maintain them. Remember that relationships are a two-way street. If you rely on your friends too much for emotional support, your relationship won’t be balanced. Be sure to stay aware of their needs — it’s a sign you care about them.
What this means is that you need to stay as connected as possible. Go on regular outings with your loved ones, start a text chain, and cheer on their personal and professional successes.
Working on Relationships During COVID-19
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made it a bit difficult to stay connected with others. As someone trying to stay sober, you especially need to work on making contact with others, so you don’t fall back into old habits. There are plenty of ways to do this, from regularly scheduled Zoom calls to fun virtual game nights. You could even start up an old-fashioned pen pal chain and do a letter exchange.
Don’t let isolation be an excuse to slowly fade into the background. It’s more important now than ever before that you have the support and kinship you need to make it through this.
Stay Sober and Connected
It’s not up to your friends and family to help you get sober. That weight rests solely on your shoulders. However, if you’re willing to own up to your past mistakes, work hard at maintaining connections, and put destructive abusive behavior to rest for good, chances are, your loved ones will be more than willing to help you along the way. Stay sober for yourself and for them.