How could we possibly discuss health in addiction recovery without bringing up relationships?
Of course, many of our articles here at Liquid Recovery Nutrition discuss the importance of physical and mental health whilst in recovery from addiction. I mean, hell…we are a nutritional supplement company so it would be odd if we didn’t!
But, as I’ve mentioned in the past, we are much more than just a supplement company. As with any company, the heart and intentions of company ownership guide the company’s mission.
So who owns Liquid Recovery Nutrition? A psychologist who’s worked in the field of addiction for over two decades and a certified addiction professional that has overcome his own battles of addiction only to dedicate his career in the pursuit of helping others do the same.
That means that we understand addicts. We know what makes them tick.
We also understand recovery, as well.
Recovery involves self-care, a healthy physical balance, and most importantly, healthy connections.
According to Google’s handy dictionary tool, the definition of the word “relationship” is:
“The way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”
Humans rely heavily on social interaction to form relationships, but often those that struggle with addiction find great difficulty in doing just that. The number of times I’ve heard someone struggling with addiction say, “I just never felt like I quite fit in” is in the hundreds.
Unfortunately, social situations are unavoidable, so people with addictions often utilize alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms to get through these awkward times. Eventually, that develops into a habitual practice thus giving birth to changes in the person’s brain chemistry. They are now addicted and have never fully learned how to naturally build and form a trusting relationship without the assistance of grandpa’s old cough medicine.
Of course, the situation above isn’t the only way one learns to become inept at forming healthy relationships that may lead to addiction. Parenting mistakes, difficult life crises and so on are often major culprits in one’s inability to truly connect with their fellow humans.
It also doesn’t help that today’s society is so focused on technology. Have you gone to dinner with a group of 20-year olds recently? Chances are they aren’t speaking to each other, instead they are all looking down at their phones. Communication is occurring via text, social media, and filtered images. The verbal “how are you?” is becoming a thing of the past.
Side note: I blame today’s society and lack of human-to-human interaction for the current opioid epidemic but that is an entirely different article…maybe even a book.
In one way or another, Addicts form a relationship with drugs or alcohol instead of people. A relationship that is guaranteed to let you down.
Then the drugs and alcohol disappear once that relationship turns sour enough for the user.
Our only “friend” is gone and we have no idea how to trust and/or love another person. Hell, we don’t even know how to trust or love ourselves yet!
Insert anxiety here.
Just Like Me
There is a reason support groups are often recommended to the addict or alcoholic. It’s a place people can go to connect and relate to people who are just like them.
12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, SMART recovery, and Refuge recovery are just some of the many types of “meetings” that are out there for the chemically challenged.
Support groups like these have huge success rates if the person with addiction completely devotes themselves to these programs. They work because it is a place where relationships happen with like-minded individuals. It’s a place where one can go and be completely honest without being judged, learn about themselves, and find support in times of struggle.
Honesty, truth, balance, patience, and a lack of judgment are just some of the principles behind these types of support groups. These are also the very same principles that are required in forming everlasting bonds with another person.
Forming the Bond
Just like in many of these support groups, it can be very uncomfortable (especially in early addiction recovery) to put yourself out there. It’s a foreign concept to most addicts, but it’s a necessary one if we wish to survive.
I wish I could tell you that you could instantly connect with people without going through a few awkward months first, but until you truly get to know your clean and sober self, it’s going to get uncomfortable.
Forming real relationships takes effort, but it also requires you to take chances.
To make yourself vulnerable to another person can often invoke more fear than traveling into the wrong side of town at three in the morning to score your next fix. But just as you felt that doing that was necessary to your survival while using, this is necessary to your survival while recovering.
My advice to you is to ask questions next time you’re in a social situation. “Where are you from?” is a great starting point then ask more questions from there. If a person has kids, that is a great talking point that anyone with children would want to brag about. Then when the questions get turned your way, be honest and open. Let your guard down and then reap the benefits.
When you feel uncomfortable, don’t run. Face the fear. It’s important to realize you’re learning a new skill here so expect to fail a few times at first. It’s about practice making you better.
Also, some of the most difficult bonds to form will be with the ones closest to you. Let the awkward talks and moments happen and don’t give up. These people will often become invaluable to your life.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Being a part of other people’s lives and other people being a part of yours is the greatest gift you can give yourself. So for God’s sake, put down the phone and say “How are you?”