When partners of recovering addicts have no personal addiction or recovery experience, it can be helpful for them to know what their loved one has been through and how their loved one developed healthy relationship skills.
Author Karen Nagy outlines Steps Four through Ten: the "Relationship Steps." Mending relationships that were broken due to addiction is an ongoing task in recovery.
Many PIRs [people in recovery] also need help establishing healthy relationships.
In other words, there's often a lot for them to "unlearn" in recovery.
In Twelve Step programs, and especially in Steps Four through Ten, PIRs learn how to develop healthy relationship skills.
They work on taking responsibility for the harm they have caused others, and acknowledge the harm that others have caused them.
Ultimately, these Steps are about asking for forgiveness and forgiving others.
Because of this, some PIRs may have developed trust, intimacy, or abandonment issues.
As a result, they might view dysfunctional relationships as normal and seek out these types of unhealthy relationships in their new sober life, unless they are made aware of what they are doing and work diligently to release and heal their past.
When they were drinking and using, they may have grown used to doing whatever it took to cover up, excuse, or engage in their addictive behavior.
When it comes to an addiction disorder, deceit, manipulation, and friendships with fellow drinking or drugging buddies are too often the rule, rather than the exception.
In these Steps, PIRs practice reaching out to other people and face their fear of rejection.
In the process, they learn mutual respect for others and how to have equality in a relationship rather than power over someone else.
When I mentioned to my friend Mark that I was writing this chapter, he said, "Yikes! " He then proceeded to tell me about his own struggles and achievements as he worked on each of these "relationship" Steps.