When discussing addiction and recovery, the focus is typically on the detrimental physical and psychological impact of substance abuse. However, the issues typically extend beyond these components into the social realm. Continued substance use and later dependence often takes an enormous toll on familial and other social ties, inhibiting the addict’s ability to form healthy, rewarding connections both at home and in the community. Because social relationships are strongly correlated with success, esteem, and happiness, restoring a woman’s social acumen is a crucial aspect of our recovery program.
Even those without a substance abuse problem can sometimes have difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships. With this in consideration, it is no surprise that a substance abuse disorder will exacerbate this issue. The key elements to productive social ties are using honest, assertive communication, trust, and a mutual understanding. Additionally, healthy relationships will have both parties set appropriate limits and boundaries. These skills are almost always absent during the phase of active addiction and take a tailored treatment program and concerted effort to rebuild. Once most of the personal relationships have dissolved, the drug user will continue to further isolate themselves and may use more of the substance in order to cope. There is no doubt that the process of addiction is a single-minded focus; obtaining and using the drug become paramount to the user’s existence. A resurgence of social ties and meaningful connections in their life will be an imperative aspect of treatment and ongoing sobriety. Additionally, users will be forced to cut ties completely with those who do not support their recovery and may push them into further destruction.
One more issue to consider regarding social relationships is codependency, which can be defined as “a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement“. The codependent party will often enable the addict to continue use by taking on responsibilities that the substance user should handle, minimizing negative consequences, accepting undue blame, and making excuses to cover the addiction. Ending substance use is the first key element to fixing the codependent relationship. Both parties may require individual treatment as well as family/couple counseling to restore their ideal relations. Ongoing attendance to support group meeting will also be a major contributing factor as to whether they will be able to mend the relationship and sustain continued sobriety. Most communities have daily meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Codependent Anonymous—these are all resources that can be utilized to ensure success. Codependent relationships take a toll on not only the parties involved, but entire families can be ravaged by the toxicity of a codependent relationship. However, if both the substance user and codependent person are committed to working on the way they interact with each other, both will gain a sense of freedom from their affliction and be able to co-exist peacefully and achieve meaningful things in their lives.