Rebuilding Relationships After Addiction
Addiction to drugs or alcohol can wreak havoc on your relationships with others. Whether it be your friends, family, or spouse/partner, repairing relationships in recovery can be a lengthy and difficult process. Rebuilding relationships in recovery is an important part of maintaining your sobriety.
In this article, we will discuss how addiction impacts your personal relationships, as well as how to begin the process of mending relationships in addiction recovery.
How Addiction Affects Relationships
Addiction impacts more than just the person who is misusing substances, as it can be a significant stressor for those closest to them as well. There are several ways that addiction can affect relationships, ranging from difficulty in everyday functioning to an increase in domestic violence and abuse.
For example, substance abuse may increase the likelihood that a conflict between spouses/partners will become violent. According to one study published in 2020, physical, psychological, or sexual violence was twice as likely between spouses/partners on days when they used substances.2
Substance misuse can also impact the relationships within family systems. Research has indicated that parents who struggle with substance use disorders may miss out on opportunities to connect with their children or attend to their needs, threatening the secure attachment between them.3
In addition, addiction can make it difficult for family members to set healthy boundaries, or to respect those set by others.3 Similar to couples’ dynamics, family members may also enforce rigid boundaries with others to protect their loved ones from consequences related to their drinking or using.3
If you are experiencing the impacts of substance use on your relationships with loved ones, an important step is to seek out family resources that can help you to repair these connections.
How to Rebuild Relationships in Recovery
When you enter recovery from substance use, it may be recommended to work on rebuilding relationships within your support network. Rebuilding relationships in recovery is an important part of maintaining this change and may be a focus of individual therapy in substance use treatment.4
Here are some important factors to take into consideration when you are working on your interpersonal relationships.
Set Realistic Expectations
Though you might feel a strong desire for things to “go back to normal” in your relationships, remember to set realistic expectations as you work on repairing relationships in recovery. It may be slow going, and you may need additional support like individual therapy, couples’ therapy, or 12-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).1 Not everyone in your life may be ready to address the hurt caused while you were still drinking or using. Be patient and remember that though it is difficult, it is worth the effort.
Rebuilding Trust Over Time
While under the influence, it can be challenging to think clearly, remember information, and pay attention, all of which can affect levels of trust in a relationship.5 For some, trust is something that needs to be earned. Many people who experience addiction unfortunately loose the trust of their closest loved ones as a result of the effects of their misuse. Once in recovery, it will take time, consistency, and patience to rebuild trust by listening to your loved ones, showing them that you care, and collectively striving to build a stronger foundation going forward.
Learn Healthy Communication and Coping Skills
One key part of repairing relationships in recovery is learning to communicate feelings in a healthy way. It is common for people to use substances to cope with painful emotions and experiences, however in recovery, there are several opportunities to learn how to recognize triggering situations and cope with them in a different way.
Eliminate Unhealthy Relationships
While much of one’s attention in early recovery is on repairing troubled relationships, it can also be a good idea to let go of relationships that are unhealthy. For instance, a couple may have some friends or acquaintances with whom they have very little in common with outside of using substances.1 Parting ways with individuals such as these and those who can be counterproductive to recovery is often recommended, as doing so can help continually push forward the goal of maintaining sobriety for the long-term.
Important Steps to Take While Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery
There are several steps you can take that will help you to rebuild relationships in recovery. While it might not be easy to tell others that you need support, know that support from family and friends has been shown to help people stay in addiction treatment and maintain their recovery.4
Here are some key concepts to keep in mind when repairing your relationships in recovery.
Part of achieving long-term recovery from substance misuse is improving on your relationships with others.1 While it may be daunting to take the first step by reaching out to your loved one, it is an important one in healing your relationship and helping solidify your recovery.
Be Honest and Direct
Repairing your relationships in recovery requires you to take an unflinching look at the behaviors you engaged in and take accountability for them. It is important to be honest and direct with your loved ones when talking to them about the impact your drug and alcohol addiction had on the relationship. Many people are surprised to realize the conflicts they experienced in their relationships do not go away when substance use has stopped.1 For this reason, it is important to own your role in the conflict as you begin the process of repair.
Let Go of the Past and Focus on Today
When discussing the impact of your addiction on your relationships, it may feel like you are stuck in the past. You can take accountability for your actions while letting go of hurt, resentment, and shame at the same time. It may be helpful to seek the help of a therapist or a 12-Step group to aid in this process, to give you a space to practice acceptance of your thoughts, feelings, and past behaviors while learning to move forward in recovery.4
Keep Attending Meetings and Therapy
If you are already engaged in therapy or peer support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, it is imperative that you stick with it. Having the support of other people in early recovery is an invaluable resource that can help you navigate repairing your relationships with others. 12-step programs have been shown to provide community-level support that helps people to maintain abstinence from substances long-term.4
Be Patient and Don’t Give Up
Addiction recovery does not happen overnight and repairing your relationships in recovery takes patience. Be sure to continue taking care of yourself and leaning on your sober support system as you work to rebuild your connections to others in recovery.
Find Help in Lafayette, New Jersey
If you want to repair your relationships in recovery, our drug rehab in Lafayette can give you the help you need. Assistance is available 24/7 at our facility, and admissions navigators can help you to verify your insurance, provide information on the levels of addiction treatment, discuss rehab payment options and insurance, and facilitate rehab admissions today.
Call us right now at with any questions you may have. Our kind and compassionate staff is available 24/7 to take your calls.
You can begin the recovery process by taking the time to verify your insurance via our