How Addicts Can Show Their Loved Ones Appreciation
You have met the challenge of kicking an addiction and are now in recovery. While you understand there is a long road ahead as you seek to maintain your sobriety, one of the aspects of life that you may not have considered is your relationships with those who have been supportive of you during your recovery. It is possible you may need to rebuild some of those relationships, especially if your addictive behavior harmed the trust that you and your loved ones once shared.
Perhaps one of the reasons you decided it was time to come clean was because you were ready to repair those relationships you lost while you were addicted. As you return home, you may be thinking about the fact that you have pledged to remain sober not only for yourself, but as a method of showing your family and friends how much you appreciated their support during your recovery. Staying sober is one of the most important ways you can not only thank your family and friends for their support, but also help reestablish those relationships that may have been damaged by your addiction and your addictive behavior.
IT TAKES TIME
Remember that healing will take time for both you and our loved ones. Your loved ones may have experienced a certain amount of co-dependency. This likely manifested itself in a number of ways, which included your loved one putting their own needs and lives secondary to yours. It can be difficult for your loved one to readjust and regain the sense of identity that was lost when they needed to focus on the ups and downs of addictive behavior. Often, couples in this situation may need to have some type of therapy so they can regain that equilibrium in their relationship.
Some of the steps that can be taken to help rebuild relationships in recovery include:
- Showing others that you have truly changed your behavior.
- Apologizing for hurting those you love when your addictive behavior was taking over your life.
- Making amends to those harmed — this is a step in the twelve step recovery program, and it is essential that if you are willing to make amends, you don’t expect anything in return.
- Understanding that no matter how much you apologize for your past behaviors, those you hurt aren’t responsible for forgiving you. Whether or not they choose to forgive is entirely up to them.
- Remembering to be patient. While you may be enthusiastic about your recovery and your desire to move on with your life and make amends, it may take those you harmed time to give you that forgiveness you seek and be willing to reestablish a relationship with you.
EMBRACE THE SUPPORT OF FAMILY
Now that you have completed your initial recovery, you need to spend time developing a different approach to interacting with your family and friends. You recognize your family is your support network to maintain sobriety. Furthermore, your family members may have been your biggest cheerleaders in your quest to stop drinking or doing drugs.
You should thank them by involving them in your recovery process. As it has been established that the ultimate way you can thank them is to maintain your sobriety, you can show them you want to thank them by giving them your ultimate trust and asking them to help you. For instance, if you think that being around some of the people you used to socialize with will be detrimental to your recovery, ask your family to help you think of alternative friends or activities. You will thereby be able to reestablish trust and show your appreciation by demonstrating that you trust them and would like to have their support.
Another great way you can show appreciation is to create some happy memories — especially if there haven’t been very many in recent times due to your addiction. Holidays are some of the best times to create new memories. Try doing simple activities together as a family such as sledding, watching a funny holiday movie, making cookies or decorating the Christmas tree.
These new, happier memories can be created by doing just about any activity that is centered around spending time with those you love. You may need to let go of past resentments to do this, especially if you are still bitter about family members who were involved in forcing you to seek treatment for your addiction. Though you know now that treatment was the best thing for you, you may still resent their intrusiveness in your life.
While creating wonderful new holiday memories is a perfect way to thank family members for their support, it is also important to remember that holidays can also be very stressful times for anyone, especially recovering addicts. You may have memories of past holiday get togethers with family members that were especially stressful and led you to engage in addictive behaviors.
Try to minimize your stress and lessen the possibility of a relapse by preparing yourself emotionally for the holiday get-together – understand who will be there and how long it will last. By recalling that sobriety is the best way to thank your supportive family members, you will better be able to cope with the angst of a tense family gathering – especially if some of those family members are less than supportive of you and your continued efforts to maintain sobriety.
Once you have made it through what could be a difficult family gathering, focus on trying to create new traditions with your supportive family members. Trim your tree with a strand of freshly popped popcorn on Christmas Eve — make that a tradition for your family for years to come.
WRITE THANK YOU NOTES
Though writing notes to your family and friends may seem like a very obvious way to thank family and friends for support, it is still a simple gesture that can mean a lot. Chances are that if you recently completed rehab and have been out of work for a while, you probably don’t have significant amounts of money to take your loved ones on a fabulous trip to thank them for standing by you during your recovery. In addition to maintaining your sobriety, think about writing them a simple note.
In this day and age where people are often using email, text and social media to communicate, hand writing a personalized note is somewhat of a lost art. Think about the last time someone gave you a personalized note. It is incredibly meaningful to receive a note expressing someone’s gratitude. You can thank family and friends for staying by you when you lashed out at them for trying to stop you from continuing with your addiction. You can also thank them for encouraging you to go to rehab and not ever giving up on you.
Try to make it even more personal and write your own message, rather than just going the pre-printed route. You can refer to specific times and instances you were most appreciative of the loving support of your family and friends. A sincere thank you note may be one of the very best ways you can thank someone for never abandoning you in your time of need.
PARTICIPATE IN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
While offering true sincere thanks to those who have helped you through recovery is a great start down the road to a better sober life, embarking on a healthy lifestyle will also aid in your recovery and help you give thanks to your supporters.
By starting with a healthier lifestyle, you will be showing your friends and family that because they cared enough to believe in you, you believe in yourself. Your self-confidence has been boosted because of their support, and the destructive behavior of addiction is something you want to put behind you forever. As part of your recovery process, you can work to make your entire lifestyle healthier, ridding yourself of the associations of your past which encouraged addictive behavior. For example, take regular walks with your family and friends, so you can all benefit from healthy behavior. Go on hikes together or join a gym and make sure you work out regularly.
As part of your effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can start cooking healthier, too. Involve your family members and loved ones in your new cooking methods. Show them you not only care about yourself, but that you also care about them because they have been by your side throughout the trials of your addiction.
While it is true that maintaining your sobriety is the ultimate way to thank those friends and family who have supported you during recovery, what methods should you employ to reduce the risk of relapse?
If your addictive behavior was encouraged or started due to your associations with friends who used alcohol and drugs, it is important to no longer associate with those people. You should also discourage those people from contacting you, and don’t go to places you used to frequent with people who encouraged you to participate in addictive behaviors.
You should screen your calls and not take calls from those you once drank or did drugs with. If you do speak with these people, tell them you no longer want them to contact you. If you do happen to run into your former associates when you are out, you can be polite to them, but don’t encourage lengthy conversations or reminisce about the “good old days.”
If you previously spent more time with your friends who did drugs or drank, you should make changes and spend time with your supportive family and friends instead. They will appreciate that you want to spend time with them, especially since they have taken the time and effort to support you through your recovery.
CREATE GOALS AND PARTICIPATE IN NEW ACTIVITIES
Now that you are no longer spending time with people who did drugs or drank with you, you have a bright new future ahead of you. Find goals for your future — and think about how much easier it will be to reach them now that you are determined to stay sober.
One of these goals should include keeping all of your commitments. Whether you are committed to helping a family member with a task or if you are committed to keeping appointments for your recovery, you must uphold these commitments.
In addition to doing what you say you are going to, say thank you to your supportive family and friends by participating in sober activities that can help you maintain your sobriety. There are numerous healthy activities you can participate in either by yourself or with your family. These activities include reading, studying a new language, volunteering at any organization of your choice, gardening, meditating, playing sports and more.
While embarking on new sober activities is an important step in recovery, your friends and loved ones will appreciate your efforts to stay sober. Keeping involved in sober activities is a great step forward in maintaining your sobriety, and you’ll want to make sure you don’t stop participating. If you lose interest in one thing, find something else. Make sure you stay busy. Getting lonely or bored might lead you back into the realm of your addictive behavior. If you feel like you might succumb to temptation, you need to contact your sponsor or family members to make sure they help you through your tough time. They will appreciate your efforts at staying sober and reaching out to them for support.
As well as safe sober hobbies, you will want to think about going back to work or gaining employment. This will not only help prevent boredom, but it will enable you to have a greater sense of self-worth.
Work together with your family, friends, and other supporters so that you are following your plan for prevention. By being aware of the possibility of relapse and what to do if you feel that it may be close to occurring, you will be able to involve your family and friends who will feel valued by being part of this process. They can help talk to you if you feel the temptation for a relapse or they can help remove you from a situation that might encourage you to start engaging in addictive behavior.
Your family and friends will be most able to support you throughout your recovery if you keep the lines of communication open with them. Make sure to involve them in choices you make following your rehab so they feel that they are a valued and important part of your life. Keep them informed about how you are feeling — for instance, whether you are bored, lonely, or are feeling under pressure. By keeping lines of communication open and having a healthy relationship with your family, you will go a long way to help establish the mutual trust that may have been lost when you were engaged in addictive behavior.
Though part of your motive for remaining sober is to thank your supporters for staying by your side, you should also consider the benefits to you if you remain sober. In addition to your health and well-being, maintaining your sobriety will enable you to feel better, make you an inspiration for those who are looking to stop their addiction, save you money, give you more energy to be able to do the things you love, and provide you with a greater amount of clarity about your life and what is important.
ALLOW YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES TIME TO HEAL
Remember that it took time for you to become so enthralled with your addiction that you needed to go to rehab to stop it. Likewise, it will take time for you to heal and reestablish the relationships with your family and friends that you had before addiction took over your life. Recovery will take time and cannot happen without the support of the family and friends who have remained by your side throughout your darkest moments. The support system of your family and friends is a vital part of your recovery. While they will be there to assist you, it is ultimately your choice if you want to pay them back for their devotion by keeping on a clean and sober track.