February 4, 2021

Rebuilding Relationships After Addiction

After making it through treatment, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild various parts of your life. One of the areas that might benefit the most from healing is your interpersonal relationships.

our relationships after treatment

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Estil Wallace

Recovery Advocate
& Cornerstone Founder

Last Update on June 5, 2023

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How do you begin the process of healing and rebuilding relationships after addiction? After making it through treatment, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild various parts of your life. One of the areas that might benefit the most from healing is your interpersonal relationships. Your close relationships with friends, family and romantic partners can suffer over the course of your addiction. Part of turning over a new leaf is taking steps to address your mistakes, revisit relationships with the people you want to keep in your life and rebuild trust and open communication so that you don’t repeat old cycles of isolation and conflict.
Searching for help with drug and/or alcohol addiction? Call us now at (800) 643-2108.

Take the First Step

When a person is struggling with addiction, they tend to hurt the lives of the people closest to them. Once you’ve made it through treatment, you may be ready to address some of the relationships your actions have harmed. This can seem like an intimidating prospect, and you shouldn’t expect people to forgive you right away.

Regardless, the onus is on you to take the first step towards healing. One by one, get in touch with the people you think you ought to, acknowledge how your actions affected them, apologize, and express your desire, if it exists, to repair and move forward with your relationship.

This is the healthiest thing you can do. Not only does it allow you to address some of the problems of your past head-on, but it also allows you to actively decide to be more open and vulnerable with people. This can help keep you from returning to mental isolation, through which it would become much easier to make some of the same mistakes.

Accept That You Can Only Control Yourself

Despite your best intentions, some people may not be ready to welcome you back and reignite your friendships as they once were. Healing can take time. This isn’t a sign that you’ve failed or are no longer worthy of kindness. All you can do is accept that you will be the best version of yourself possible from here on out. The people who you want in your life will see that, even if it takes longer than you’d like. This is all part of rebuilding. This can still be difficult, so make sure you’re leaning on your sobriety peers and resources to work through negative emotions productively.

Build a Stronger Foundation

Part of rebuilding your life after addiction is building it stronger and healthier than before. You don’t want to simply undo the damage–you want to prevent it from happening again. Because addiction breeds in isolation, developing more honest relationships is a key component to putting yourself into the right environment to nip any addictive tendencies in the bud. One of the most helpful things you can do is open up to the people closest to you about your past, mistakes, tendencies, and plans to stay healthy. 

While it may seem scary or incredibly vulnerable, you’re doing yourself a favor in the long run. It’s much harder to slip back into destructive habits when you’re surrounded by people who are used to you being honest and open with them. This will also help the people in your life to trust you more. Giving them a chance to participate in keeping you on the straight and narrow is a great way to rebuild their faith in you and invest in your success.

See Your Relationships in a New Light

Treating addiction will almost always involve personal therapy because addiction tends to form around other, deeper personal problems. Because you’re going through treatment, going to therapy, and reevaluating your whole life, you now have the rare opportunity to redefine your interpersonal relationships. As part of your transformation, you can redefine what sort of friend, family member, spouse, and partner you want to be.

You may carry trauma, pain, distrust, shame, or negative emotions; now is your chance to start with a blank slate. Choosing to deeply trust another person is an intense, wonderful thing. It may not be easy. Consider this a chance to do things differently from how you would have done them in the past. Being too honest or too forthcoming in your closest relationships will rarely get you into the same trouble that being too withholding will. Turning to your counselor or sponsor for input can also make a difference.

Now that you’ve gone through treatment, you may have some work to repair the damage your addiction has caused throughout your life. As you move into your sober future, you may be carrying a great deal of pain and intense emotions surrounding the way you used to treat yourself and others. You don’t have to shoulder that burden alone. Treatment facilities like Cornerstone Healing Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, aren’t only for getting you sober–they’re designed to help keep you grounded, stable, and successful in the rest of your new life. At Cornerstone, we understand the importance of having a reliable support system that doesn’t have any pretensions about your journey towards health and healing. Whether you need relationship counseling, personal therapy, or just want to connect with a peer or sponsor in sobriety who knows what you’ve been through, you have options to help you stay sane and sober. Call (800) 643-2108 to learn more.


[1] When Love Isn’t Enough

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Author & Reviewers

Estil has 12 years of experience in recovery, and serves as Executive Director, Board Member and President for 5A.org. He has also worked directly with alcoholics and drug addicts in Maricopa County jails. He has over 14 years of sales, management, networking and digital marketing experience. Estil believes anyone willing to change can heal.
lionel estrada lisac clinical director
Lionel, a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC) with over 4 years at Cornerstone. Passionate about helping those with addiction, he has trained as an EMDR therapist  adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues of addiction, providing an empathetic approach to addiction.

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