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How to Rebuild Relationships After Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction puts stress on your body, mind, and relationships. The harmful effects of addiction aren’t limited to just the person living with it–their family and loved ones also struggle.

Drug and alcohol abuse causes damage to relationships by leading to distrust, emotional pain, and unhealthy coping skills. The other person in a relationship may feel isolated or alone, even if they are physically close to their addicted loved one. 

Whether you live with addiction or love someone who does, it can be reassuring to know that repairing relationships after addiction is possible. The journey back to a healthy relationship can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. 

How Does Addiction Affect Relationships?

Drug and alcohol addiction takes a toll on the addicted person and their loved ones. It can put a strain on even the most loving relationships and drive wedges that can seem permanent. The effects of this strain can trickle down to future generations and create a harmful cycle of addiction that is difficult to escape.

Each relationship is unique, and everyone has a different experience when one person is addicted to drugs and alcohol. The effects of addiction on a relationship depend on several factors, including how adaptable people are and their coping skills.

Drug and alcohol use can cause people to do and say things that don’t align with their own values. Addicted people often hurt or cause stress to their loved ones through their actions, which can include:

  • Lying
  • Manipulating
  • Being aggressive or violent
  • Becoming involved in illegal activity
  • Stealing
  • Being unfaithful to a partner
  • Expressing negativity through criticism and complaints
  • Neglecting their responsibilities as a parent

These behaviors violate the trust within a relationship. Partners and children may feel they’ve been abandoned or abused. Codependency may develop, meaning loved ones take on responsibility for the addicted person and become their caretaker. 

How Do I Repair Relationships After Addiction?

The most important step you’ll need to take to repair relationships after addiction is to seek treatment for your substance abuse. Maintaining healthy, loving relationships is impossible if you are living with an untreated addiction.

Treatment occurs in stages, usually beginning with medically supported detox. After detox, you’ll participate in a treatment program that uses evidence-based therapies to help you address and heal the root causes of your addiction. Your treatment will likely include individual and group therapy, medications, psychoeducation, and family therapy.

After treatment, there are steps you can take to continue to repair relationships after addiction. 

Follow an aftercare plan

Addiction can’t be cured, but you can learn and practice the skills to nurture your sobriety. During treatment, you may develop an aftercare plan to keep you active in your recovery after rehab. This may include:

  • Participating in 12-step groups
  • Individual therapy
  • Sober living
  • Finding a sober counselor or sponsor
  • Receiving regular medical and mental health care

Your aftercare plan will keep you focused on your recovery after returning to your daily routine after rehab. Following it will also demonstrate to your loved ones that you remain committed to sobriety. 

Family therapy

Couples and families go through a loved one’s addictions together, and each person involved has a unique experience and emotions about it. Family therapy allows people to learn skills, process emotions, and find healthy coping mechanisms that support a loved one’s recovery. Family therapy also gives people the tools to communicate more effectively, which can benefit the relationship well into the future.


Life after addiction can sometimes feel a little uncertain for the addicted person and their loved ones. Rebuilding your life is essential. Return to work, spend time with sober friends, and take the time to reconnect with your family members. Develop new routines that allow time for work, socialization, rest, and all recovery-related appointments and activities.

Accept responsibility

Drug and alcohol abuse can change how you think, talk, and behave. Take responsibility for the things you did when your addiction was active by acknowledging how your actions hurt your loved ones. Apologize from the heart and ask for forgiveness.

Be active

Don’t just be an observer in your spouse, children, or family members’ lives–be an active participant. If you want to repair relationships after addiction, one of the best things you can do is to show up and show interest. Take time to listen to your loved ones, support their hobbies and goals, and tell them you love and appreciate them often.

Many of these ways to repair relationships after addiction relies on the other person being ready to forgive you and move forward. Some people may need more time and space before being willing to work on the relationship. 

If you or the other person aren’t ready to work on the relationship in person quite yet, consider reaching out with a phone call, letter, or email instead. Give the people in your life the space and time they need before attempting to repair the relationship. 

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love lives with drug and alcohol addiction and requires treatment, don’t wait to get help. Contact the Mandala Healing Specialists today to learn about getting the life-changing treatment you deserve.