Rebuilding a Relationship After Addiction

One of the most devastating and lasting effects of addiction can be on the relationships with loved ones and those close to an addict. Spouses and family members, in particular, can experience the alienation and loss of trust that often results from addiction and its accompanying behaviors.

Sometimes, the damage that an addiction has brought on a relationship can seem irreparable, to both the addict and those close to them. Nevertheless, navigating the process of rebuilding and repairing relationships after addiction is a cornerstone of any successful recovery program.

In this article, we will discuss some of the challenges that addicts and their loved ones will face when working to rebuild a healthy relationship in recovery and present some tips that we hope will prove helpful to those undertaking this journey.


Rebuilding Will Take Time

In today’s digital age, we as a society are more prone than ever to desire instant gratification. However, rebuilding a relationship after addiction takes time. For some, this process can take years.   Whether someone you love is an addict in recovery, or you yourself are going through recovery and seeking to repair damage caused by your addiction, you must be prepared to be patient. This can be difficult for many to cope with, particularly early on in the recovery process.

Many loved ones, or former addicts, want their relationships to return to a state of normalcy after an addiction. It can present a new source of stress if this does not happen immediately. Repairing the damage caused by addiction is going to be difficult or even painful at times. It is important to remember that the period of rebuilding is a process of reforming old bonds, and forging new, stronger bonds. This period of growth is essential to cultivating long-lasting, loving, and meaningful relationships.


Rebuilding trust is the most difficult and time-consuming part of recovering from addiction for many relationships. For the addict seeking to rebuild trust with those they love, they must demonstrate over time that they are trustworthy and this requires them to be vulnerable. Even when their loved one or significant other does not validate that belief, they must continue to show that they are worthy of trust.

Demonstrating that you are trustworthy is a process of showing that no matter how big or small the issue, the person you love can once again count on you to follow through. For former addicts, this process, while difficult, can be beneficial in multiple respects.

First, it helps to show your loved one that they can again rely on you or believe you when you say something. Secondly, it proves to yourself that you are worthy of their trust. This can be a validating and powerful way for you to further experience loving yourself once more.

For those that are in a relationship during addiction recovery, learning to trust them again can be especially difficult. Ultimately, allowing yourself to trust someone again, that has proven themselves untrustworthy in the past, requires allowing yourself to be vulnerable again.

Over time, you will begin to see that your loved one in recovery is not the same person as they were when they were using. Even if it is hard at first to trust your loved one in recovery, learn to trust in the recovery process itself. Over time, the trust will come.


Create and Maintain Structure

Creating and forming a new and healthy routine in an addict’s life is an important part of any recovery program. Building new life skills and creating routines that encourage accountability are a strong part of recovery programs.

Transitioning structure into your relationship is a useful tool to help you rebuild your personal relationship with an addict in your life. The structure can be useful to create and maintain healthy boundaries. While boundaries are particularly important for those whose loved ones are suffering from addiction but have not yet undergone the recovery process, creating clear boundaries in a relationship is also crucial in nearly any healthy relationship.

As such, when rebuilding a relationship with a recovering addict in your life, clearly defining and demonstrating boundaries can provide structure and consequently stability in your relationship.

Along with using boundaries to provide stability in a relationship, for loved ones seeking to rebuild a relationship with someone in recovery, a structure in their relationship can add a much-needed sense of normalcy. Addiction can affect the lives and relationships of those around the addict, and one subtle but profound result can be a constant feeling of instability. Creating and maintaining structure in the relationship with an addict can demonstrate what your expectations of a normal relationship are, and implement a form of stability in both your life and the addict’s life.

By creating a more stable relationship, you are also forming a relationship that integrally has a greater sense of normalcy. This can be particularly beneficial for both sides during the early stages of recovery when past hurts or suppressed emotions can come to the forefront.

Rebuilding a relationship after addiction can test the bonds that form between people. Those of us who have loved ones in recovery have already seen how drug addiction affects relationships. Although it can be difficult, rebuilding a relationship after addiction requires work, time, and patience. Trusting in the recovery process can help lay the foundation for rebuilding trust between yourself and the addict in your life over time.

It is important to remember that when rebuilding your relationship, the foundation you create during and after the recovery process can lead to a longer, healthier, and more meaningful relationship. If you or someone you love is struggling to rebuild a relationship during recovery or treatment call 888-481-4481 to speak to a medical professional at Casa Palmera.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.