Matters of Substance

Published in the Boston Irish Reporter 

“Happy Ever After” in Recovery? Everything in Good Time

“I have been sober from alcohol and drugs for over four months now. I feel physically much better and go to AA meetings every day. I never believed that I would have friends without going to the pub.  I am delighted to discover that at these meetings I am able to talk and enjoy other people’s company without alcohol or drugs. However, I feel very disheartened by my relationships with my wife and my family. When I was in treatment, they were very honest about how I had hurt them and I have since apologized to them all. I am beginning to feel that they want me to apologize forever! My three children still don’t talk to me about their days in school or camp .When I come home from a meeting I feel that no one is happy to see me. I thought things would get better once I was sober but I feel that my family is still trying to punish me. What can I do?”

It is a huge achievement to be able to stay away from alcohol and drugs day after day and your physical recovery is a testament to your efforts. Congratulations! It sounds as if you have really embraced the support available to you.

Addiction problems have a huge impact on us individually and on those we are closest to. Being in recovery does not mean saying sorry to your family forever. However, the hurt, pain, and upset that addiction can cause does not disappear once the person becomes sober. Think about how long you had a problem with alcohol/drugs – five or ten years? Longer?

That length of time is also how long your family has been living with the addiction. They did not go into a treatment center and have not had a chance yet to let go of the hurt and anger even though the alcohol/drugs are out of your life. For your children, it can feel like having a stranger in the house and they need time to get to know you again. Everyone has to re-learn how to live together. It may sound dramatic, but just as you have learned to get through a day without drugs, to find friends and acceptance without alcohol –  your family needs time to learn how to live without the constant worrying about their husband and father.

Your family has their own recovery path, just as you do. There is plenty of support in Al-Anon, Nar-Anon and Al-Ateen groups as well as individual, couple, group and family counseling. Ask your friends in the meetings how they have coped with re-building new relationships at home. Recovery for your entire family is possible. It takes time and patience, but trust will grow again for all of you.

 If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to alcohol or other drugs, please reach out in confidence to Gina at 617 542 7654 Ext. 14 or gkelleher@iiicenter.org

For more information about this issue, visit the Learn to Cope website at Learn2cope.org This is non-profit network that offers families, support, education, resources, and hope when dealing with recovery.