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Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery

Published: July 13, 2020

How to rebuild relationships that have been damaged due to substance abuse addiction.

While you might have taken a big step in overcoming substance abuse, there is one aspect you may really need to mend – rebuilding damaged relationships.  Alcohol and substance abuse addiction does not only affect your mental, social, and physical wellbeing but can also affect everyone around you (spouse, family, friends, and even colleagues).  You need to repair the relationships that might have fallen apart for you to live well with people after you get through the physical addiction.

Rebuilding relationships can be as difficult as healing from substance abuse addiction. It is something that can take days, months, or even years, and you will need to put the effort in to show the people that you may not be on good terms with or have hurt, that you are sincerely sorry and have turned over a leaf.

Accept That Addiction Damaged Your Relationship

You might not have realized that you were damaging meaningful relationships while you were in the throes of an active addiction. You might have had the constant “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality while disconnecting from those relationships. Accepting and recognizing that you have broken your relationships is the first step in building relationships that may have fallen apart.

Take Responsibility

Take time to reflect on what might have severed your ties with others. Recall the good memories you had with those around you before you got addicted to drugs, and try to think about what actions damaged your relationships and how. Were you focusing too much on your new behavior? Did addiction change your personality?

Whatever the cause, take responsibility for your actions and apologize. Let the people that you are not on good terms with know that you are truly sorry from the bottom of your heart and that you are aware of all your shortcomings that came along with your addiction. These actions were not a product of you, but your addiction.

Approach and Connect

Although challenging, approaching people you want to make things right with, and talking to them is very critical. Let that person know that you are no longer the same, and you have grown. Explain to them that you are in recovery from substance abuse addiction and ready to start a new life.

For the person you can’t physically approach or get ahold of, you can ask your relative or trusted friend to reach out to them and apologize on your behalf. Alternatively, send an email, a card, a text message, or a letter explaining your intention to reconnect with them. You never know, you may be surprised how excited they are to hear from you and be ready to reconnect with you again.

Timing is Crucial

Timing is essential when rebuilding broken relationships. A person may be more receptive if you approach before Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or other holidays depending on your relationship.

Be Honest

If you genuinely want to rekindle a relationship, ask for a second chance. Some people may give you one but be prepared because some people may not be ready to provide one. If you do get a second chance, do not take it lightly and be very honest about your feelings because if you fail to rebuild your damaged relationship, you may not get another opportunity to reestablish a meaningful relationship.

Nurture Trust

Repairing a broken relationship is more than just saying, ‘” I’m sorry.” You need to go the extra mile in trying to convince a person you have reconnected with that you will keep your promises.

Rebuilding trust is not an easy process. People may still avoid you even after apologizing. But you shouldn’t give up. Start by making small promises like accepting to assist someone with particular tasks. Be careful about the promises you make. Only make promises that you are very sure you will keep. With time people will realize that you are genuine and consistent about keep your word and become more comfortable being with you.

Be Active

Be active in your relationships to keep them alive. You are free from substance abuse now, so you have no reason to abandon, neglect, or physically or mentally abuse people around you. Instead, spend time with your family, get involved in the life of your children, and the interests of your friends. Visit a person you have reconnected with, make a phone call, and even organize a gathering with them. Being active and intentional will spur your relationships to a higher level.

Avoid Unhealthy Relationships

Not all relationships need to be repaired. Some broken relationships are broken for a reason and are better off left in the past. For example, avoid people you used to do drugs or drink with. They don’t have anything to offer you at this point in your life.

Damaged and broken relationships are often challenging to mend but can be rewarding at the same time. Over time, once these relationships are repaired, you can form a connection that will last a lifetime as well as have a strong and healthy support system that will help you not to fall back to addiction.

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