Rebuilding Relationships In Addiction Recovery

Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey that can be highly rewarding. And yet, it’s not a process that is without its challenges – both personally and interpersonally.

One task in recovery that can be simultaneously enriching and painful is mending important relationships that have been hurt by your addiction.

That includes relationships with:

  • friends
  • spouses/partners
  • parents
  • siblings
  • children
  • and other loved ones

Rebuilding these relationships isn’t always easy. For tips on how to rebuild those relationships and find healing, here’s what you need to know.

Common Challenges When It Comes To Rebuilding Relationships

Substance abuse and addiction can affect how you think, feel, and ultimately how you behave both when you’re alone and with others.

In some cases, you may become someone that you — and your loved ones — hardly recognize. 

This can strain platonic relationships, relationships with family members, and romantic relationships in a number of ways.

How addiction can hurt relationships:

  • financial strain
  • unstable mood
  • anger or aggression
  • job loss
  • lying or hiding your drug use
  • isolating from others
  • getting into fights
  • stealing from loved ones
  • legal troubles

How addiction affects a person, and relationships with people closest to them, can differ from one person to the next.

Recovery offers an opportunity to rebuild those important relationships in your life,  and let go of those that do not support your health and wellbeing.

How To Rebuild Healthy Relationships In Addiction Recovery

Making amends for hurt caused by your addiction is a process that is often addressed within drug and alcohol rehab programs.

This may be discussed with an individual counselor, during group therapy, or as part of a 12-Step program for drug addiction.

Rebuilding relationships isn’t simple. And it may not look the same for everyone. Some helpful strategies for developing positive relationships in recovery include:

Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries with people you care about — in a way that allows you to maintain your personal values — can be an important strategy for avoiding toxic behaviors in relationships.

For instance:

  • enabling behaviors
  • codependency
  • actively encouraging substance use
  • not allowing you to feel safe opening up
  • intruding on personal space

These are behaviors you want to avoid in recovery. If someone is not willing to honor your boundaries, it may be worth considering whether they’re someone that deserves to remain in your life.

Be Honest And Open

Being honest about where you’re at in your recovery is crucial for accountability. 

In the throes of drug and alcohol abuse, people often withhold information, lie, or become secretive. This can hurt not only you, but also those around you. 

Being true to yourself, and what’s going on in your life can be healing both for you, as well as those who have been hurt by a lack of honesty in the relationship.

Be An Active Listener

Healthy relationships aren’t one-way. If you’ve hurt someone, it’s important to listen to their concerns, and their side, just as much as it is to be able to say your piece.

People who are worth keeping in your life, and rebuilding that relationship with, are worth listening to from a compassionate and sincere place.

Consider Your Triggers

One activity that is commonly encouraged in drug rehab programs is identifying your triggers — or, certain things, people, or cues that might spark the urge to use drugs or alcohol.

Part of developing and nurturing healthy relationships will involve identifying triggers in your relationship – and determining how you can best avoid or address them in a way that supports your recovery.

Know Your Limits

Don’t force yourself to go out of your comfort zone, or engage in behaviors that threaten your sobriety, in order to rebuild a relationship. 

If you’re not comfortable going to a bar, or hanging out with people who remind you of when you used, be clear about this. 

Your recovery is worth being honest about where you’re at and honoring those limits.

Have Patience

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are relationships that have been hurt by your substance use disorder. Understand that this takes time.

One step at a time, you’ll find your way toward establishing the trust and mutual respect for one another that characterizes a strong support system.

Avoid Toxic, Unhealthy Relationships

One of the more painful lessons to learn during the recovery process is that some relationships may not be salvageable or conducive to life in recovery.

Toxic relationships, destructive as they may be, may not always be easy to let go of, especially if there’s an added component of an emotional or physical attachment. 

Signs of a toxic relationship include:

  • lack of openness/honesty
  • unhealthy boundaries (or no boundaries)
  • enabling behavior
  • codependency
  • manipulation
  • financial abuse
  • gaslighting
  • controlling behaviors

How Alcohol And Drug Rehab Can Help You Rebuild Relationships

At Bedrock Recovery Center, one of the cornerstones of our addiction treatment programs is helping clients mend important relationships that have been damaged by their drug or alcohol use.

During rehab, you can find help with this through individual counseling, in support groups, and through family member or couples therapy sessions.

Begin Your Journey At Bedrock Recovery Center Today

Bedrock offers residential rehab and detox programs for drug or alcohol addiction from our top-rated treatment center in Massachusetts.

Let us help you find healing. Call our helpline today to learn more about our addiction recovery programs for alcohol and drug abuse.

  1. Psychology Today — What You Need to Know about Relationships and Recovery
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Recovery and Recovery Support
  3. Very Well Mind — Developing Healthy Relationships in Recovery

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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