Relationships in Recovery

Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery

Completing an addictions treatment program is a monumental step towards recovery. It is likely that a person who completes recovery comes out feeling like a new person with lots of challenges and exciting opportunities ahead. Many aspects of life feel different and may require seeking a new job, hobbies or places to spend time. This also includes finding new people to hang out with as being around the old friends may trigger relapse. Learn more about the positive benefits of rebuilding relationships in recovery and how to get started.


Addiction and Relationships

Nearly 23.1 million Americans aged 12 and older struggle with a drug or alcohol problem according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Out of the millions of people, nearly 4 million received some form of treatment. Only 2.5 million received treatment at a facility. Any individual who goes through addiction treatment and recovery likely needs support in building new relationships and repairing old ones damaged by addictive behavior.


Responses to Recovery

People will have myriad reactions to an individual when treatment is completed. Typically emotions are still high and loved ones will wonder if the individual is able to maintain a clean slate. The following emotions may arise with loved ones following treatment:

  • Anger over the negative behavior in the past and difficulty accepting the person is willing and able to change (especially if this is not the first time in treatment)
  • Denial, particularly from people who enabled the drug or alcohol use
  • Fear from loved ones who experienced physical, emotional or psychological harm by addiction
  • Happiness and joy that a person is out of treatment and committed to living substance-free


Restoring Relationships

Both people in a relationship must practice patience when seeking to heal and rebuild relationships. It takes time and is not simple or straightforward. The following steps can ease the process a little and help build a strong foundation from which to grow:

  • Trust the person in recovery can make the changes necessary to move away from negative habits to positive lifestyle choices. Accept this may be a slower process than both people might like or expect
  • Offer forgiveness to the loved one who will have to figure out how to forgive the person who hurt people in the past. Be willing to move on from negative experiences and experience new ones
  • People are more likely to believe changes have happened when action matches the words. Rebuilding trust takes time but will happen faster with tangible results (staying clean, making sober friends, holding and keeping a steady job, repaying debts, going to group meetings, etc)
  • Consistency is key. Rebuilding relationships may take months or years. Be willing to accept some cannot be rebuilt but show up, do the work and be consistent. Honor commitments to friends and family, offer to help others in need and demonstrate the change is happening for the long haul, not just in early recovery


The Villa believes in the power of relationships to support loved ones through addiction recovery programs. Call us to find out how we can help your loved one get started on the path to health and healing.