Build Healthy Relationships in Recovery

Secrets, lies and manipulation are hallmarks of addiction.

These traits erode trust in relationships as the person in addiction becomes more and more preoccupied with getting and using drugs.  Eventually, the bond with spouses, children and best friends who are not involved in drug use become casualties of addiction.  After the addiction has been dealt with and mental clarity is once again restored, relationships, rather than drug use, will again take center stage.

Learning how to build healthy relationships in recovery is critical for sobriety maintenance.  Since no one lives in a bubble, healthy relationships provide valuable support that people in recovery need to help them to stay clean and sober for the long haul.  

What many addicts realize when they start to rebuild their lives after addiction is that the first relationship that they need to nurture is the one they have with themselves.  Self-esteem and self-nurturing are important activities that drug use sabotage.  An important part of the drug rehabilitation process involves helping the person in addiction to build a healthy self-image so that they can begin or reestablish healthy self-care routines.  For this reason, people in recovery are advised to wait until they have restored emotional balance to their lives before starting an emotionally charged romantic relationship.  

After completing a drug rehabilitation program, people who were a big part of the recovering addicts drug use lifestyle often have to be avoided if they are to maintain abstinence.  It then becomes necessary to develop new, healthy friendships with people who can support your recovery goals without threatening your fledgling emotional stability. Rebuilding self-respect while trying to establish new relationships with people that can support your sobriety goals can feel a little overwhelming.  The following suggestions can help you make the process less daunting.

Five Tips to Build Healthy Relationships in Recovery

  1. Avoid putting all your attention on one person.  Spending too much time in a one-on-one relationship can create a new form of dependence and set yourself up for problems if the friendship falls apart for any reason. By gradually expanding your circle of friends you are less vulnerable to hurt and disappointment if one person falls off the grid.
  2. Take small steps in relationships. As you work on improving your relationship with yourself, it is important to go slowly as you rebuild or develop new relationships with others.
  3. Establish comfortable boundaries.  Set up limits in relationship over which you will not allow anyone to cross in order to protect your physical and emotional well-being.  Boundaries allow you to safely say no without being pressured from others to engage in activities that may threaten your new found sobriety.
  4. Get help in repairing significant relationships such as with a spouse or with children that will have an impact on your recovery.  Damage to some relationships that occur during addiction are not easily repaired and can create undue stress for the person in recovery.  Getting professional support as you seek to work through these issues can help the process to occur faster and provide important information and tools that both parties will need to maintain a healthier relationship going forward.
  5. Make a commitment to yourself and others to be honest and to keep the channels of communication open. This will go a long way in rebuilding the trust in relationships that was hurt by lies, deception and manipulation and set a strong foundation for new relationships as well. In addition, knowing that you are honest with yourself and others will also improve your sense of integrity and respect for yourself.

The importance of building strong healthy relationship in recovery cannot be overstated.  Having a healthy relationship with yourself and others is an important recovery tool that help you to grow and adapt.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.