Getting free from the disease of addiction is as much about emotional, psychological, and relational change as it is about physical recovery. One of the most important steps in treatment, therefore, involves making amends with the people you’re close to who’ve been hurt by your addiction. A family counseling program is a great place to start, as are 12-step meetings or other structured forms of group therapy where a sponsor can help guide you through challenging relational repairs. For addiction recovery services in Ohio, Florida, Texas, Illinois, or Massachusetts, call Evoke Wellness at 866.429.2960 or message us online.
Rebuilding Relationships by Making Amends
Making amends in recovery refers to enacting lasting behavioral change. Unlike apologizing, it goes beyond mere words and involves committing to healthier modes of relating going forward. Addiction can push people toward a host of destructive actions, including everything from neglect and abuse to theft, infidelity, and dishonesty. When you make amends, you put these behaviors in your rearview mirror and replace them with healthy patterns.
How Professional Support Helps
In a rehab offering like family therapy, a patient and their loved ones can address past harm that has been done and, ideally, reconnect. Common subjects include the physiological nature of addiction, setting healthy boundaries, and examining the root causes of addictive behavior within the family culture. All this means that both a person in recovery and their loved ones can be directly involved in processing challenging experiences they went through due to the patient’s addiction.
From the patient’s perspective, specifically, making amends takes a couple of forms. When a person makes direct amends, they first verbally acknowledge the wrong they’ve done to someone and then take direct actions to set things right if possible. For example, if a patient stole money from a loved one to purchase drugs, they would first admit the action and apologize. Next, they’d repay the person and resolve never to engage in such behavior again.
Indirect amends may be needed in cases where irreparable harm was done, or direct interaction isn’t possible for another reason. In these cases, the patient must simply resolve to change their behavior going forward. For instance, if a patient was physically abusive to their child and lost custody, they might not be able to directly reconnect. Nonetheless, they could begin anger-management classes, resolve to remain sober, and donate to an organization supporting survivors of domestic abuse in their child’s honor.
Recovery takes more than just making amends. Committing to a life without substance abuse involves constant self-reflection, maintaining healthy boundaries, and finding healthy ways to cope with stress and difficult emotions. 12-step and other types of support groups help promote these changes.
Living Your Amends in the Longer Term
In the 12-step world, the phrase “living amends” is often used to refer to the ongoing nature of changes made during the amends-making process. The most important part of making amends is the internal and external commitment to continue in a new mode of behavior. Here are a few concrete ways you might live your amends going forward:
- Actively work to improve your relationships by making time for loved ones through either structured activities like home improvement projects or social engagements like date nights or family dinners.
- Follow through on promises that may have fallen by the wayside when you were in active addiction.
- Share your resources when you have an abundance by making donations of money, material possessions, or volunteer hours.
- Teach the skills at which you excel by mentoring young people, helping your kids with their homework, or showing new employees the lay of the land at work.
- Remember to “show more than you tell” by avoiding apologizing over and over and, instead, offering concrete acts of love and service, such as helping with tasks your loved one finds difficult or unpleasant.
- Follow through with the plans you make, allowing loved ones the opportunity to rely on and trust you.
Though you are on a mission for positive change, not everyone will be receptive right away—or potentially ever. Be considerate of others’ feelings and needs, and don’t force any relationships or activities that are not able to happen at this time. Accepting these circumstances with grace and empathy is also a part of the amends-making process and healthier relationships going forward.
Cal Evoke Wellness Now to Start Recovery
Making amends is an undeniably difficult but essential part of lasting recovery. When you repair damaged relationships, you not only do right by others but also improve your odds of ongoing sobriety. Unresolved emotional baggage has a way of coming back up, and sadly, it can often trigger relapses if it’s not dealt with. Better to face issues head-on when you’re ready to do so and to avail yourself of support in the process. For information on rehab programs in Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, and Massachusetts, call 866.429.2960 to reach Evoke Wellness or fill out our confidential online form.