Repairing Damaged Relationships after Addiction

Addiction takes a tremendous toll on relationships The loss of trust and respect are devastating and the destruction that typically results from years of addiction may take a long time to repair.

If you're hoping to salvage a relationship damaged by addiction be prepared for a great deal of work Don't expect things to return to normal overnight and remember that watching a loved one self-destruct while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is terrifying and heartbreaking.

Most likely there is resentment on both sides with plenty of blame to go around Unfortunately an overload of grief fear and anger sometimes results in the end of the relationship.

There are no guarantees that a damaged relationship can be saved but if you're trying to patch up a broken relationship the following advice may help:


  • Apologize for your misdeeds but always be genuine Accept full responsibility and acknowledge mistakes you made while in the throes of addiction and denial Apologizing doesn't automatically erase years of wrongdoing but it helps to rebuild faith and trust.
  • Make amends to people you have wronged even if you don't participate in a Twelve-Step program Apologize if you lied cheated or behaved unethically If you resorted to theft to support your addiction make an honest effort to pay the money back even if it takes months or years.

Open up Communication

  • In its National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices SAMSHSA Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says better communication isn’t about perfection It’s about sharing feelings openly in a non-defensive manner.
  • Talk about difficult issues openly Don’t assume your partner knows what you’re feeling or thinking and don’t keep things bottled up.
  • Allow the other person to freely express anger regret fear and other emotions Express any disagreements calmly and don’t rush in to interrupt with your own comments.

Give it your All

  • A half-hearted attempt at repairing a relationship does no good and will probably make matters worse.
  • Actions always speak louder than words Put your full effort into your recovery which displays to loved ones that you sincerely want to get better Remember that your family has been disappointed by many unfulfilled promises.
  • Back up your promises For example if you say you’ll be home at a certain time show up as promised or call and let your family know you’ll be late Addiction made you dishonest and secretive but now it’s time to be open and forthcoming.

Let Go

  • Let go of old resentments towards other people but remember this is a process that takes time.
  • Practice forgiving yourself Learn to let go of shame and guilt that can sabotage relationships and derail recovery.

Prepare for Resistance

  • Realize that damaged relationships will never be the same However with hard work and commitment you may be able to build something even better and more genuine that what you had before ndash a relationship built on trust respect and open communication.
  • Forgiveness is something you have to earn not something that other people owe you If you meet resistance try not to be offended and don’t take it personally.
  • Unfortunately you may find that relationships aren’t always salvageable Getting clean is a great start but it isn’t always enough to undo years of damage If you determine that the relationship can’t be saved move on with forgiveness and grace.

Time with Family and Friends

  • If you’ve been absent in the past this is the time to take an active role in your relationships Spend time together and devote quality time to your children Include your kids in conversations and be honest in an age-appropriate manner
  • Be patient.


  • Don’t hesitate to get family therapy or relationship counseling Go by yourself if necessary Don’t make demands if your partner isn’t interested.

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