Friday April 25th 2014

How to establish respect in relationships after drug or alcohol addiction

Relationships and life after drinking or drugs

So how do you establish respect in relationships after active addiction has ceased? Once again, I have to draw on personal experience along with what I have personally witnessed in the lives of others. Watching the power of example that I witness in my clients is a great teacher. My experience tells me that establishing respect in relationships is a process.

1. Begin with self respect

As with most things in life recovery, it all began with me. When I faced the reality of my addictions, it is safe to say my self-respect was almost gone. Any honest person starting life recovery and the transformation to a “new and improved” is light on self respect if they are honest.

The road to gaining respect from others began by my getting respect for me. This did not happen overnight and took action based on hard work. But it did happen. How can I gain from others what I don’t have for myself?

2. Create an action plan for addiction recovery

For me, the most important person in my life was my wife, followed closely by my children. Suffice to say, with my actions, they had lost a lot of respect for me. I say respect; I don’t mean love; for that was never lost in my case. To those reading this, be aware, relationships will not change overnight. As I recall, it was likely four years before I regained my wife’s trust. Respect came back with action and new behaviour, but trust took a lot longer.

The biggest factor in regaining respect from those closest to me was action. They’d heard the words and I made the promises before. So, I put together an action plan for recovery with short term and longer term objectives. I sought their input and support. Then I went about executing the plan and used them as monitors along the path. I took the action I said I was going to take and they gave me support and feedback. As time went by, and I did what I said, things began to change and respect rejoined love.

3. Approach friends, colleagues and others face-to-face

In addition to my family there were a group of people: friends, close work associates and some “observers” who had lost respect for me. For those whose respect I wanted, I talked with face to face, explained my situation (to most it was no surprise; my addictions were a secret to me only). I took responsibility for what I had done and committed to a new path. Once again, the respect of others came incrementally with time; time where it became apparent to others that I had a major attitude adjustment and was living a healthier life.

Many I met with “respected” the decision I made to start recovery and were supportive. However, it should be noted that some were not and to be perfectly frank, their reasons don’t matter. I had lost their respect and I was not going to gain it back, at least publicly.

Getting respect from others is an action process

The simple truth is that getting respect back in relationships was an action process on my part, giving respect to others that they deserved and a reasonable amount of time to show I was sincere and continuing to make positive changes. Through help from many others, spiritual awakening and growth as a part of my journey of life recovery and transformation. I have not actively engaged in my addictions for many years. I regained respect for myself, and through deeds and actions, have gained the respect of many. It is an ongoing process and one I love to share with others.

Are you struggling with getting back respect from friends, family and co-workers? Have you started on the path to recovery or getting ready to change your life? Share your experiences about respect in recovery here. Or ask questions, and Keith will answer them personally!

Photo credit: Mandana Samii

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12 Responses to “How to establish respect in relationships after drug or alcohol addiction
L
7:44 pm March 15th, 2011

My question is from the opposite end of the relationship. How does one who enabled and experienced life with an addictive person begin developing respect and trust with no acknowledgement by the addict that there were relational and addiction problems?

What's the scenario?
11:32 am March 24th, 2011

I think that respect from others came back for me in time. But that’s true of any situation, new or old. You need time to establish trust and confidence, whether you are starting a new relationship with someone or healing a former one.

Keith Bray
11:27 pm April 1st, 2011

Living with an addict can be hell, and addiction adversely affects all who are close to the addicted one.

A term I’ve heard is loving detachment.

Detach as much as you can from addicted behaviour while remaining to give love (support). Most importantly, get help for yourself.

When an addict has no respect for themself, they will be unable to truly give it to another! You can’t give to others what you haven’t got for yourself!

luv
Keith

linda
12:14 pm August 2nd, 2011

Dear Mr. Bray,

Reading the information give hope with the many problem of post drug addiction. My son is a recovering herion addict. The most difficult challenge has been to find a recovering coach. Our lives were turned up sidedown by the active addiction. The joy of his successful recovery has not been celebrated because of the frustration we are now experiencing.

Could recommend just how to find recovery coaching services in our area that are affordable and have meaningful results. We are from Hemet, Riverside County, CA.

Thank you

Linda

Keith Bray
2:41 pm August 3rd, 2011

Hi Linda: an interesting quote:”Addiction isn’t a spectator sport.Eventually, the whole family gets to play.” I think you’ve discovered that.
While I can’t recommend a local coach, I would be pleased to talk to your son by phone or Skype at no charge to understand where he is at. Being clean is just the start.There would be no charge to asses.

I work with people by phone or Skype globally and my client’s success rate is high. My services are unique because they are personal and a combination of my background and education. Take a look at hopeserenity[dot]ca and you will find full details including rates. This addiction thing is no fun, and more than your son should get a little help.

If you want to contact me directly my email is khbray[at]hopeserenity[dot]ca.

luv,
Keith

Agnieszka
8:25 pm November 7th, 2011

Hi,
I have been reading this forum and find answers for some my questions. But can’t help thinking if it’s possible to get back with someone who left because of all the problems?
I have been taking drugs fof a few years now. Wouldn’t call it addiction, but more way of dealing with so much stuff that had to be done. Occasionally. It gave me the energy and made me feel amazing. Combined with alcohol made me behave in a way that I wasn’t myself anymore. Constant arguments with my boyfriend, all that drama, blaming each other….. I love him and never realized how much he meant to me, until about a month ago. We had a messy break up and despite trying to get back i blew it off and lost him completely. Never admited that the problem was in drugs and alcohol. He had been there for me when I had eating problems, willing to help and stood by me all this time. I tried to change many things but never got anything right. Never thought of drugs as the trigger of the arguments. My mood swings became more often and I’d loose my temper and say things i didn’t mean.
Now I am sober and clean. I now it has been only few days, but I can feel, see and tell the difference. I have reached the bottom. It’s hard and dark and very rocky, but once you get there, you know that it can not be any worse then that. I hit that bottom. Could hear my bones cracking. I want to get better, and I want to be myself again. The girl that used to never get drunk, who wouldn’t approve any sort of drugs near her. Beccause she believed that you don’t need that to be happy. You are happy, just have to find it within yourself.
The pain of knowing how much I have hurt him is horrible. It’s disgusting what I have done to him. Now I feel like my life sudenly became very empty. He meant a lot to me. He was everything in my life. And there were times when I was clean and sober and had an amazing time with him. And about those times I can say, I was happy only with him.
So if you are in a situation where you think that something isn’t going right, ask yourself; what the hell am I doing? taking drugs to be happier? better? perfect?
You are a good and happy person. Stop making yourself to see that distorted life! You are doing this to yourself, so stop. Because one day it will be too late.

Good luck guys! Good luck to myself too :)

10:13 am November 10th, 2011

Thanks for sharing your story, Agnieszka. If this relationship was meant to be, than I think that you can experience a renewed connected during sobriety. But I would suggest that you give it some time. We are very vulnerable in early recovery, and can often place a relationship in front of the inner work that we need to do. In my first year of recovery, I examined my past relationships and only started dating again after 12 months clean. As a woman, I think that this was an very important “me” time. I know that it is very tempting to want to make things better with your ex, but can you give him some time to be without you while you heal some old heart wounds that prompted your drug and alcohol use in the first place?

Joanna
4:33 pm January 9th, 2012

Mr. Bray,
My husband has been struggling with addiction for the last 10yrs. I took our two kids and moved into a safer home 6yrs ago. Now, my husband has not had a drink in 7months and has 3 encounters with drugs during this time – the closest to clean he has ever been. Our 12yr old daughter has less than zero respect for him and lets him know it everytime she sees him. It infuriates and hurts him especially because he is working hard on the 12 Steps. He gets very angry with me that “I allow” our daughter to treat him this way. Quite frankly, after everything she has seen, felt and lost I don’t blame her for acting out this way BUT at the same time, it is getting old and is interfering with the rest of our recovery and is just awful to hear her say these things. As the other parent, I feel he needs to take the initiative with her, find better strategies to deal with her, help her, support her. Most often, he stoops to her level, ugliness is exchanged, and he storms out. I speak with her privately, I show understanding of her hurt feelings and anger but also remind her of our values and how adults should be spoken to. I often tell her that I am not asking her to forgive and forget but outright rudeness is unacceptable. Any thoughts, books, strategies?

Pachills
11:40 am March 16th, 2012

The article information looks quite impressive. No doubt, it is really hard to establish relationship after drug and alcohol addiction. Mostly people prefer to stay away from drug and alcohol addicted person. But is they try to recover from it, may be useful for them to build relationship. Keep sharing more valuable information in future.

AshyPalms
4:15 am December 24th, 2013

Hello. My husband is working on sobriety. I feel as if trust may never happen again. I have so much resentment towards him and constantly blame him for everything we have lost do to his addiction. I have been meeting with a therapist, but still feel so lost. I have kicked him out of the house so we can re prioritize. But the more he’s gone the better I feel, and that scares me. Any advise?

11:52 am December 26th, 2013

Hello Ashy. Give it some time. Things tend to “come out in the wash”, if you know what I mean. Trust in sobriety comes with nothing but time. If he can maintain 2 years of sobriety, his chances for long term abstinence from alcohol are greater. But if he experiences relapse after relapse, you may need to consider letting the relationship go. Does that help? Keep doing the hard work on yourself. More will be revealed the healthier you get…

jojo
3:38 am March 3rd, 2014

They made a mistake its not like they said I want to be a f%$& up. If you bust there balls they will just screw up again or get pissy..be supportive and show affection or it will be over soon enough

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About Keith Bray

I am a Master Life Coach who is ICF certified and a certified addictions coach. I consider myself recovered from the effects of addiction (16 years) but still in recovery mode as it relates to personal growth. Professionally, I am university educated, a former corporate CEO and have been in the consulting business for over two decades. I'm a husband, father, grandfather, friend, uncle son, a trusted confidant and many other things but bottom line, I'm Keith. I hope that I can help SOME out there with ideas that will make you think deeply.