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Conflict Management in Early Recovery


It appears to be internationally accepted advice for addicts fresh into recovery not to get involved in emotional and romantic relationships for a period of up to two years. The reasoning behind this suggested discipline lies in the hope that as you come into recovery you will start to change as a person, so in two years’ time, if you have joined a programme of change, you will not be the same person that you are today.

It is also fair to say that, until you are at peace with the person you have become because of the addiction, and then made some necessary changes, the person you hope to be may remain a figment of your ambitions. There is also the toxic danger of wanting a relationship in order to get good feelings from an external source (using). Therefore, in simple terms, it could be relationally detrimental to invest yourself in the life of another person, especially if that other person is also in an early recovery programme.

However, whilst all that may sound like good counsel, in reality, not to be in a relationship is simply not an option. Everyone is in ‘relationship’ with everyone else to one degree or another, and where there is ‘relationship’, there is bound to be ‘conflict’.


1.The Intra-personal conflict – the war that rages within yourself between your Cognition (what you know to be healthy and unhealthy choices); your Spirituality (which is either destroyed or developed by what you choose to feed it); and your Emotional chaos (the culmination of shame, fear, guilt and failure due to the addiction).

2. The Inter-personal conflict – while you are rooted in your Intra-personal conflict, people back away from you because they have learned that going into any form of relationship with you comes with a high price. That’s why you now have all those failed relationships and lost friendships behind you and that haunting feeling that no one really wants you around, they just tolerate you.

3. The Systemic Conflict – also rooted in your Intra-personal conflict. This is why you have always found it really difficult to believe that you actually fit in anywhere. Therefore, if we neglect the life-controlling conditions of Intra and Inter-personal conflict, the only community within which you will feel any sense of belonging is where mind and mood-altering chemicals rule supreme, where healthy is made to look sad and unhealthy is made to look good; this is where miss-fits fit in and where unacceptable behavior is the key to acceptance – The Drug Culture.

“Welcome back to planet earth, we’ve missed you”

The concept of conflict has many and varied definitions. For the purposes localising our approach we use the following definition of conflict: “a difference in opinions or purposes that frustrates someone else’s goals or desires”.


In the journey from active destructive addictions and repeatedly expensive clinical treatments, to the struggles of early recovery and consistent social stability, the road is fraught with Relationship Conflict. It is the one guarantee that most programmes warn you about, and now a growing number of clinicians are actually learning to prepare you for.

At Cherrywood House Recovery Homes, the more you grow relationally, the less expensive the programme becomes financially – that way, you start the process of reconciliation and healing by showing your family how ‘things are improving’. Stop promising and show them.

An integral component of your treatment programme at The Cherrywood House  will be our practical and understandable ‘Relationship Conflict Management for Early Recovery’ seminars. Our aim is to equip our clients with relationship awareness and tools for taking developmental responsibility so that they can return home with the relational ability and willingness to take 80% of the responsibility for creating a new relational normal for everyone around them.

Conflict is the energy which can both tear families apart and/or draw them closer together, depending on how it is handled. It is this dual potential within each of us to which Cherrywood House introduces clients and their loved ones.

Individual relational empowerment is the seedbed of transformation in individuals, in couples, in families and ultimately out into our societies. The addict or the alcoholic, who once sat central to everyone’s concerns and chaos, now becomes the person everyone wanted them to be.

All of a sudden, as each family member commits to the day-to-day applications of relational self-honesty, everyone becomes an autonomous and integral part of the solution.

There are five key Conflict Styles, four of which are deadly:

1. The Teddy Bear – this is the people-pleasing approach of ‘everyone must like me’ so I must deny myself to keep everyone happy – Deadly!

2.The Turtle – this is the ‘we must avoid all conflict at all costs’ mindset. These guys sit passively and wait for every storm to go away, and then every six weeks or so they explode and dredge up resentments that they have accumulated and stored within their passivity – Deadly!

3. The Fox – these are the very subtle abusers who will ‘let you win a little bit so that they can win the most’, and then when they relapse, they somehow seem to have the ability to help you to feel guilty. These guys are only ever honest in order to manipulate you – Deadly!

4.The Shark – this is the relational bully who believes that there are only two options in life – winning and losing and that winning is best. Every dispute is a competition and relational harmony is dependent upon them winning – Deadly!


1. The Peace Fakers – they deny, get depressed, and run away from people

2. The Peace Breakers – they accuse, get aggressive, and chase people away

Wisdom is needed. The Conflict Style that works best:

5. The Owl – this is the collaborator, The Peacemaker, the one who says: ‘Okay guys, everyone’s interests are important here; let’s listen to each other and work out how to find a ‘win-win’ situation; our family and our relationships are more important than individual personal agenda – Developmental!

At Cherrywood House, our Conflict Management for Early Recovery seminars challenges each individual to examine and embrace how they have been contributing to the heartache of everyone around them by their deadly conflict styles.

It is a worldwide phenomenon that the majority of relapses back into active addiction take place because of Relationship Chaos, and basically, we believe, it all boils down to people not knowing how to disagree with each other from time to time, without one or all of them taking everything as a personal attack and therefore falling out with each other forever.

We think it may be time to stand up and fight ‘with’ what we believe, ‘alongside’ the people we love, instead of fighting ‘for’ what we think would be best, ‘against’ the people we are failing to control.

“Conflict is the energy which can both tear families apart or draw them closer together, depending on how it is handled”

If you or someone else you know is suffering from conflict in relationships, struggling with addiction or succumbing to relapse, we’re here to help. Comment below to share your conflict issues and how you’ve handled them, or contact us, we’re happy to help and listen.

Exercise Addiction

Are you dependent on exercising (in an unhealthy way)?
Regular Exercise Or Compulsion?

Regular physical activity plays a crucial role in health maintenance and disease prevention. However, excessive exercise has the potential to have adverse effects on both physical and mental health. While the scholastic and empirical discussion of excessive physical activity focuses on obsessive and compulsive exercising…how can we everyday people recognize the symptoms of an addiction? And once we do, what can we do about it?

We’ve Asked The Expert In Exercise Addiction

Today, joining us is Dr. Heather A. Hausenblas, Ph.D. Heather is a physical activity and healthy aging expert, researcher, and author. Her research focuses on the psychological effects of health behaviors across the lifespan. In particular, Dr. Hausenblas examines the effects of physical activity and diet on:

  • adherence
  • body composition
  • body image
  • mood
  • eating behaviors
  • quality of life
  • excessive exercise

She has also applied theoretical models to examine the psychological effects of physical activity during pregnancy and postpartum and its relationship to the health of the entire family.

Today, Dr. Heather shares her knowledge in diagnosing exercise dependence. We’ll learn who’s at risk and how exercise addiction can be treated. Again, please use the section below if you have a question at the end. We will do our best to provide you with a personal and prompt answer.

Complacency/Self Sabotage

What is complacency?

Complacency sounds like this, “now that everything is better I can stop doing the things that made my life better in the first place”.
Like a person that suffers from depression, once they start taking anti-depressants they start feeling better. The depression lifts and they start thinking, well I’m not depressed anymore so do I still need to take these pills every day?
What makes no sense is it’s the pills that are helping lift the depression so why would you stop?
The same can be said for early recovery. There are certain key routines and structures in place that assist with recovery, including continued therapy with a counsellor, and engaging in new activities.

Emotions during addiction recovery

Happy, sad, grumpy, excited, nervous, giddy – these are all things we feel at one time or another and none of them are forever.  Despite the fact that emotions are transitory, we have this sense that they are permanent conditions and we end up spending a lot of time in variations on a negative, either:

  • Feeling like we are stuck and that we won’t be able to ever get out of what we are currently feeling.
  • Being upset because we can’t make a positive emotion last forever.

The first becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, the second is about accepting what is, being fully present in the moment and just being able to do that can help us feel a lot happier more often.

So, what can you do to address your emotional state in addiction recovery? What can you control? And how do you start to feel better? We review here, then we invite your questions about emotional issues in recovery at the end.


Coming out of an addiction and into a new normal happens in phases. We do not simply put the chemicals down and then find ourselves as a central figure in our perception of what normal really looks like.

We come out of the fog of war and into a therapeutic environment, but at that point we are not in recovery, we are in treatment. Recovery can only start to develop as and when we leave treatment and we start to play our part on planet earth, on life’s terms, where everyone around us can start to relax around us, without substances to support of comfort us. Too many people want what they believe to be normal from the moment they put the chemicals down and this desire for immediate gratification via the path of least resistance, usually manifests itself in some very damaging behaviours:

10 ways to stay sober during the holidays

Who said The Holidays were all fun and games? We’re guessing it wasn’t someone in recovery struggling to remain free from their drugs of addiction.

Family, food, presents, work, community events, and in some cases, travel can all add up to a huge amount of stress for anyone. Factor in an ongoing issue with drugs and alcohol and a history of turning to substances in order to manage stressful situations, and the holidays may feel like nothing more than an obstacle course with triggers for relapse at every turn. So, how can you get through The Holidays in addiction recovery with grace and strength? We offer you some tips here. Then, we invite your feedback or comments in the section below.

Enabling is not helping !

How many of us have asked ourselves: “If I stopped helping my addicted loved one, what would happen to them? Would they fall apart, would they starve or, even worse, overdose?”  

If you question whether your help is really hurting an addict, this article may help you understand more regarding enabling and addiction. We review enabling behaviors and how to end them here. Then, we invite your questions or comments at the end.

Identify Signs of Codependency

Questionnaire to Identify Signs of Codependency

This condition appears to run in different degrees, whereby the intensity of symptoms are on a spectrum of severity, as opposed to an all or nothing scale. Please note that only a qualified professional can make a diagnosis of codependency; not everyone experiencing these symptoms suffers from codependency.

1. Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?
2. Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?
3. Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?
4. Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?
5. Are the opinions of others more important than your own?
6. Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home?
7. Do you feel rejected when significant others spend time with friends?
8. Do you doubt your ability to be who you want to be?
9. Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others?
10. Have you ever felt inadequate?
11. Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?
12. Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts?
13. Do you feel humiliation when your child or spouse makes a mistake?
14. Do you think people in your life would go downhill without your constant efforts?
15. Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done?
16. Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority, such as the police or your boss?
17. Are you confused about who you are or where you are going with your life?
18. Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?
19. Do you have trouble asking for help?
20. Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them?

If you identify with several of these symptoms; are dissatisfied with yourself or your relationships; you should consider seeking professional help. Arrange for a diagnostic evaluation with a licensed physician or psychologist experienced in treating co-dependency.

Next Steps

If you are struggling with an Addiction or know someone who is. Please feel free to contact us and we can help you with your next steps.

Cherrywood House is a rehabilitation centre for people suffering from substance and other addictive disorders. It is situated in the tranquil, semi-rural environments of Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa. We offer  Residential Programmes, Aftercare Support Services, Outpatient Programme, Family Support Groups. For more information. Visit our Website Here.

How to overcome an addiction

The truth about addictions is that they come in many forms, shapes and sizes. For some, it is alcohol, drugs, sex, work, or relationships. For others, it is a combination of them all. Our addictions in life are similar in that they all take us to a point of excess. In many ways, this excess can derail us and keep us from focusing on the best our life has to offer.

So, how can you turn the ship around? How can you bring change – real change – to your life? We explore here. Then, we invite your questions or comments about overcoming addiction at the end.

Addiction: The Social Disease

Addiction as a social disease

Stanton and Archie Brodsky wrote this piece in 1976 for the Addiction Research Foundation publication (now defunct), Addictions, which was subsequently reprinted by the recovery publishing house, Hazelden! Building on their approach in Love and Addiction, Stanton and Archie analyze how addiction, rather than being an aberration, grows from the well-springs of modern existence. Their views are in many ways prophetic of developments in the quarter century since. Consider that Freda Martin, an adviser to the Invest in Kids Foundation, said about a parenting survey in Canada in March of this year, “Never in the history of civilization have we had so much scientific information about how a child’s brain develops. And never have our young people been so isolated from their families, so bereft of practical experience and practical wisdom.”

Addictions (Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario), Winter 1976, pp. 2-21; reprinted as Hazelden pamphlet, Center City, MN, 1977 © Stanton Peele & Archie Brodsky, all rights reserved

Stanton Peele and Archie Brodsky