14 JULY 2021

How to Repair Relationships Now That You're Sober

Trying to pick up the pieces of your life after addiction can feel like rebuilding after an alien abduction. You were there the whole time, but it was as if someone else was in control when you were addicted. You lied, stole, cheated and manipulated. And what’s worse is that you did those things to the people who mean the most to you.

It’s not an easy road. Once trust is damaged, it’s very difficult to recover. One of the most important things you can do is to remain consistent. Even if it feels like you’re not getting through, keep at it as long as your loved ones will allow (or as long as you can handle).

Here are some tips for repairing relationships after addiction:

Educate your friends and family

It’s common for the friends and family of an addict to feel angry. If you think back to what they’ve been through, you’ll probably understand. But some of this anger may come from misunderstanding.

Addiction is a disease with a major stigma. People mistakenly think that addiction is a choice. They may also believe you had more free will than you did while you were using. Talk to your loved ones about what addiction did to your body and mind. Try to be honest about why you started using and how it felt when you lost control.

Apologize once

It’s important to apologize for your wrongdoings, but don’t go overboard. Bringing up the actions that hurt your loved ones is like opening an old wound. There’s no need to apologize over and over until they forgive you. Remember that apologies are just words. After you say them, it’s up to your actions to show that you mean those words.

Give them space

No one is obligated to forgive you. If you’ve apologized and someone does not accept your apology, take a step back. Let them know that you’d love to show them how you’re a different person now. But don’t force yourself on them. Just tell them you’ll be there whenever they’re ready.

Learn when to let go

The sad reality is that damaged relationships cannot always be repaired. The person who you've hurt may always see you as you were back then. But here's the thing: keeping these people in your life can actually be damaging to your recovery. If someone is truly unwilling or unable to understand your situation, it may be time to let them go. If you keep in touch with someone like this, you're likely to spend every interaction trying to prove yourself, possibly for the rest of your life. Their mere presence will become a reminder of your addiction, and that's not healthy for you.

As you go through this process, remember that it always takes time to mend fences. Family support is essential, so lean on the people who are being most supportive of your journey. Continue trying to repair your broken relationships, but know when it's time to quit. When the relationship begins to feel unhealthy for you, let go. Your health and recovery are what is most important.

About the Author

Trevor McDonald
Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.