Your journey to sobriety is about more than stopping alcohol or drug use.
While sobriety is a vital part of recovery, there are other aspects to recovery that can influence your success. One of these is your relationships.
Research frequently points to ways in which addiction causes strain on our closest relationships, children, and partners, while at the same time, conflict and distress in these relationships can cause us to continue abusing substances. The cycle is vicious and volatile, damaging both us and our closest connections.
Recovering from addiction calls for a holistic or ‘whole person’ approach to treatment. At Cirque Lodge, we offer intensive recovery workshops to help you tackle specific problem areas in your life. These problems may have contributed to your addiction and could increase your risk of relapse.
Relationships have a powerful influence over our feelings and how we view ourselves. When we become addicted to drugs or alcohol, we often strain our relationships. Addiction is an all-consuming condition. It is progressive and gets worse the longer you go without treatment.
People often begin to seek addiction treatment when they realize that they have lost a meaningful relationship. This realization sometimes comes too late to salvage the relationship, as many partners leave after they realize that the relationship enables the other’s behavior.
At Cirque Lodge, you can participate in our intensive recovery workshop on relationships once you have completed a minimum of 30 days in residential rehab. Our workshop allows you to explore your feelings with the team and other clients. Prior therapy makes the transition from rehab to workshop as smooth and comfortable as possible.
The Cirque Lodge ‘Improving Relationships’ workshop helps clients figure out their deeply-held beliefs and attitudes about their relationships.
Clients work in a group to discuss and collaborate on achieving healthy relationships that support their sobriety.
We use psychoeducation, discussions, and creative activities which focus on self-love, acceptance, and self-compassion. We explore how to relate to others through:
Boundaries and assertiveness are key skills we can apply to our relationships. This includes our relationship with ourselves. Note that assertiveness is not aggressiveness. Healthy assertiveness stems from understanding and respecting your boundaries. It is about knowing and applying what is best for you and your recovery.
Boundaries are not to be confused with walls of defense or expectations of others. Boundaries are something we create, set, and uphold to protect ourselves. In the Improving Relationships workshop, you learn a wealth of information about boundary setting. You will learn how to relate to and healthily interact with others without hindering your recovery progress.
Relationships provide us with deep emotional connections, and in a healthy relationship, we receive emotional support and companionship.
In recovery, healthy relationships can help us achieve our goals. The love and respect of the other person can motivate us to stay healthy, remain focused, and work on our well-being.
It is, however, essential to understand that we do not need a specific relationship to stay sober. This is one example of where a key difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships lies. Unhealthy relationships are not only about the other person – they are about how we relate to ourselves within the relationship.
If we need the other person to stay healthy and sober, we are at risk of relapse if we can no longer be with that person. This creates a type of dependency and is something we should be aware of if we find ourselves in a relationship post-rehab.
In the workshop, we focus on building the skills of distress tolerance and emotional resilience. This helps you take the reins of your emotional regulation. We want to help clients realize that their recovery is in their own hands. The quality of the relationships they allow into their lives can make a huge difference in managing their health and well-being.
A healthy relationship of equality, mutual growth, respect, and healthy independence is what most of us strive for and work towards. As outlined in the Journal of Primary Prevention, characteristics of healthy relationships include:
In recovery, a healthy relationship can encourage resilience and motivation, and additionally, trust and communication allow partners to grow and be open and honest with each other.
Unhealthy relationships can exacerbate addiction or increase the risk of relapse post-treatment. In unhealthy relationships, you may experience maladaptive attachment to your partner, and you might come to rely on them for validation. If they leave you, it might be tempting to use substances to block out the stress and anxiety.
Lying, mistrust, and judgment are all characteristic of unhealthy relationships. Other characteristics include:
According to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, unhealthy relationships increase your risk of relapse. In our intensive recovery workshop, you will learn how to identify the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships in your life.
You will also learn how to approach new relationships and manage existing ones in a way that is healthy and supportive of your mental and behavioral health.
At Cirque Lodge, we understand the relationship with yourself is your most important relationship.
Your self-relationship quality influences all other relationships around you, whether romantic, professional, or familial.
In the early days of sobriety, many clients experience emptiness or a ‘void’, which can be challenging to accept and overcome. This leads many to rely on maladaptive means of filling that void, and often, this seeking leads to unhealthy relationships.
A relationship based on the need to escape feelings of emptiness is not healthy. It is not based on mutual compassion and trust but on one’s reluctance to face themselves or be alone. Clients in early sobriety sometimes engage in premature intimacy and abandon themselves within a relationship.
In our Improving Relationships workshop, we support you as you explore your deeply-held thoughts and beliefs about yourself. This includes your self-esteem, self-worth, and attachment style.
Next, we take a closer look at your existing relationships (romantic, familial, professional) – or lack thereof. We examine the dynamics within these relationships and the influence they have on your recovery and well-being.
We also emphasize the importance of psychoeducation (PE). In PE, we learn about the brain chemistry of emotional connection and relationships. This can provide insight into why we behave the way we do in relationships. It also sheds light on why many unhealthy relationships feature repeated patterns of mistrust, paranoia, and abuse.