Maintaining Positive and Healthy RelationshipsApril 14, 2020 4:09 pm -
Experts agree that creating and maintaining positive, healthy relationships is a pillar to successful recovery. Social structure can provide ongoing support, respect and love during a difficult time. Likewise, toxic relationships or negativity can pull you down toward the same destructive feelings and behaviors that originally caused substance abuse to begin with.
As we look toward helping you create a more meaningful and healthy life, we feel that it is important to discuss those around you and their impact. In today’s article, we will look at the differences between a good relationship and a toxic one, tips for building new relationships and the importance of human connection.
The Difference Between a Positive Relationships and Toxic Ones
In order to build the right relationships and prune out the bad ones, it is important you first understand the differences between the two. It is challenging, because many times a toxic relationship can disguise itself as healthy, where in reality, it is actually bringing you down. As you read through these lists, try to visualize the people in your life that check off the boxes for helping you build strength and value, and make a mental note of the ones you may want to distance yourself from socially.
What a Healthy Relationship Looks Like:
What an Unhealthy Relationship Looks Like:
- Destructive Behavior
Identifying these markers is very crucial in determining who is going to be in your corner when you decide to start a new life of sobriety and beyond.
Tips for Building Positive Relationships in Early Recovery
If you are recently in recovery, currently in treatment, or planning to start, you may make the decision that you will need to change your social circles or build new ones. It may be that you are choosing to relocate, or perhaps the people you are currently surrounding yourself with are also using substances and you no longer want to associate yourself with these behaviors. Whatever the case may be, it could be time for you to start building the right kind of relationships that will help you to grow and evolve. Here are some things that we want you to remember as you start to seek out new social bonds:
You are Amazing:
Understand Yourself First:
Stability and Honesty are Key:
Take it Slow:
This is the perfect place to start. Right now, you are making the choice to live a healthier, more positive life. You are freeing yourself from burden and abuse. You are an inspiration. Keep that in mind!
Piggy backing off of number one, we want you to also understand that your first responsibility in building a new relationship is to first truly understand yourself. Who are you really? What do you love? What are your needs? By understanding yourself, you will know what you bring to a new relationship and what you need to find in a positive friend or partner.
There are two things that we absolutely recommend before you start a new relationship, and it is to first make sure that you are stable in your recovery, and honest with yourself and others. You should not hide who you are or who you were. It is a pivotal part of your story, and people you choose to forge a bond with need to understand it. Likewise, you need to be honest with yourself and make sure you are in a place emotionally to sustain a good relationship. Emotional changes could affect your progress, and your personal healthy needs to be your top priority.
There is no need to rush into a relationship, friendship or romantic. Too much intensity too fast can cause unhealthy, emotional dependency. With any new relationship, take it slow and let everything happen over time and organically.
Importance of Healthy Relationships
Whether you are in recovery or not, people who are socially connected in a strong, positive manner are physically and mentally healthier. Men and women who have good social bonds report higher levels of happiness and fewer mental health concerns. What is important, however, is not how many connections you have, but rather the quality. Having ten toxic, verbally abusive friends who encourage destructive behavior is vastly different than having one person who lifts you up and understands and celebrates your value as a person. The relationships you should be seeking, building and fostering are the latter.
According to MealthHealth.org, research has shown that the influence of social relationships can have an impact on health as dramatic as smoking or alcohol consumption. Lacking in strong bonds, or over abundance of toxic relationships is actually considered as dangerous as the over-consumption of harmful substances! Building a network of value, respect and love can quite literally prolong your life.
Social Connection in Recovery
In the world of recovery, it is more important than ever to establish healthy relationships. We are social creatures. We are fueled by positivity, encouragement and love. Social connection has been the topic of discussion in the addiction research community for decades.
If you’ve been following us on Facebook, you may have seen us talk about “Rat Park”, an experiment wherein rats were isolated in a cage and given two water bottles – one laced with cocaine, and another clean. An isolated rat would always choose the cocaine water until it overdosed and died. When rats were put into a positive environment filled with other rats and could socialize, they never chose the cocaine water, and never overdosed.
A similar situation happened during Vietnam – a large percentage of soldiers overseas developed a heroin addiction to get through the horrors of war. Americans back home were terrified that they’d return as substance abusers with PTSD. However, as soon as they returned home and were re-acclimated into society with their family, the overwhelming majority kicked the addiction – most without even experiencing withdrawal.
Isolation can inspire destructive behavior. When we exist in the dark by ourselves, we run the risk of seeking comfort from substances or behaviors that can injure our mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. If you, or someone you love is alone, struggling with social connection, the time to make the change is now. It may just save a life. Pick up the phone and call that friend you text every now and then. See how they’re doing. Do a video chat with some family members. Make a plan to spend time with someone you know brings out the best in you. Life gets in the way, but there is ALWAYS time for a phone call. Start small, so that you can make a huge change.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse of any sort, please reach out to us at (877)-RECOVERY or 877-732-6837. Our team of addiction specialists make themselves available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are here to help, to be a friend, to show support and to be a positive life in a dark time. Because We Care.
Get The Help You Need Today
If you or a loved one has a substance use disorder, please give us a call or fill out the form to the right and let us help you change your life for the better.