Many people who are new in recovery may start trying to repair and rebuild old relationships that were damaged, devastated and/or destroyed as a result of their heroin use and abuse. However, recovering heroin addicts may on occasion run into resistance simply because some family members and friends simply aren’t ready to forgive and forget. This failure to repair an old relationship can sometimes lead to sadness, depression or even despair. Some brand new to recovery may even use this as an excuse to relapse and / or fall completely back into addiction. But if people living in active recovery are vastly different than they were when they lived in active addiction, why the hesitancy to reconnect? Is there any hope of rebuilding lost relationships, bonds and friendships?
Why Rebuilding Old Bonds with Family or Friends Sometimes Fail in Recovery
Those living in active addiction fail to realize at the time just how much pain, suffering and heartache family members and friends go through as a result of their addiction. In addition to the great loss they feel from being ignored while the addicts concentrates solely on acquiring and using heroin, opiates or their drug of choice, some addicts lie, manipulate, cheat and steal from their family and friends to get what they want. This ongoing pain and suffering can create gaping wounds that take time and effort to heal. Thus, an old friend or even a close family member may not be ready to dive back into the friendship head first. Even those that are willing to give it a try often keep their guard up and will have a hard time with trust for a significant period of time.
There is Hope
As much as it hurts, we really can’t blame family for their failure to trust and immediately put their guard down. After all, the recovery success rate is rather low and relapse is right around the corner for some individuals. However, with time and a gentle reminder from you to your family and/or friend that you were a different person when you were living in active addiction, those who genuinely love you will most likely come around. It may take time, but by reinventing yourself and showing them by your actions that you are a changed individual, connections and friendships may be restored.
Education for Family Members and Friends of Heroin and/or Drug Addicts
Most people today don’t have a full understanding of addiction, what it is and how it affects the individual. Moreover, people in general are typically very focused on their own feelings and forget to stop and recognize that their not the only ones who have been hurt by this. Family and friends often think addiction was strictly your choice and had you made better choices, none of this would have happened. While the last part may be true, addiction is a disease and a chemical reaction in the brain, similar to falling in love took place the first time a suffering addict tried heroin. Thus, the bond/connection to heroin/opiates became what can feel as “irresistible” and thus, while we believe everyone possesses the inner strength to choose recovery, the difficulty level in doing so is a 10 out of 10. View “Addiction: Is it a Disease or a Choice?” for more information.
Heroin addicts are victims too. Yes, they made the choice to use for the first time, but once that chemical reaction in the brain occurred, it became almost impossible to resist using again. Yes, choice is involved, but imaging being told the woman or man of your dreams is toxic and that for your own wellbeing, you must end a relationship with them. How many of you think you could break that connection with no problem? People often stay in bad relationships because of the chemical “love drugs” they experience being around that person and no matter how much they know deep down that a relationship may be bad for them, they stay. Why? Because of the chemical reaction in the brain which creates that “in love” feeling. That’s how difficult it is for a heroin addict to stop using – that in conjunction with the fear of withdrawal symptoms and a fear of the unknown. View “Addiction Vs. Using Drugs: Why Drugs Addicts Can’t Just Stop Using Heroin” for more information.
Advice to Family and Friends of Heroin Addicts
Friends and family members of recovering addicts are encouraged to encourage their loved ones in recovery. In the beginning, we feel that it’s smart to keep your guard up somewhat to protect yourselves, but we also believe that people deserve a second chance. Understanding addiction in conjunction with your genuine feelings of compassion for a recovering addict is key to learning to forgive and rebuilding a relationship with them. Don’t hold onto to previous grudges. But do keep a guard up for awhile to prevent yourself from getting burned again.
Cultivating New Relationships
Recovering heroin addicts are also encouraged to work to cultivate new relationships with positive, healthy people either in recovery or who don’t use heroin, opiates or other illegal substances. Building new connections and becoming part of a community is vital to wellness and one’s psychological health. So in addition on trying to rebuild old relationships, don’t ignore the opportunity to meet and cultivate new relationships with some good people.
Peace and Love,
William – Publisher and Founder of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™
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