5 Tips for Building Healthy Relationships in Recovery From Addiction

Women Supporting Women Addiction robs women of many things. It deprives them of their time, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and maybe even their youth. While in the throes of addiction, so much is lost. Another thing addiction takes from women is their relationships. It is not uncommon to find that relationships, after rehab, need to be mended. Unfortunately, building healthy relationships in recovery from addiction can be quite difficult.

While actively using substances, many women find that their closest interpersonal relationships deteriorate. This is because the behavioral problems that come with addiction often involve relationship-destroying acts. A person who is addicted to substances will often do anything to get their drug of choice. Lying and manipulation are a few tools that addicts employ to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, these behaviors put a strain on relationships and destroy trust.

It is not uncommon for women to leave rehab with a smaller support system than they had before they started abusing their substance of choice. Relationships after rehab often need to be rebuilt, and new relationships formed. To help you with this process of building healthy relationships in recovery and after rehab, we have compiled 5 tips to utilize during your recovery from addiction. 

The Importance of Healthy Relationships After Rehab

Humans are meant to be social. We thrive most when we are surrounded by people who share our values, people with who we can find meaning in life. When someone builds a relationship after rehab, they are committing to an enriching act. An act that facilitates long-lasting recovery. 

After completing addiction treatment, a healthy relationship with a friend, family member, or loved one can provide you with a source of encouragement and support. This is important during recovery as staying sober can be difficult for some people. For those who need less support, the companionship that relationships bring is just as important.

But what makes a relationship healthy? First, relationships should aid in your self-growth. They should be stable and build on mutual respect, trust, and support. A healthy relationship is not one-sided or mentally exhausting.

Overall, a healthy relationship:

  • Is built upon mutual respect 
  • Involves kindness and caring 
  • Enriches the lives of everyone involved 
  • Features healthy communication patterns
  • Respects personal boundaries and triggers
  • Provides peace and feelings of contentment 
  • Encourages both people to be the best they can be
  • Makes you feel safe, supported, and good about yourself
  • Is made up of people who are committed to being honest and reliable
  • Supports recovery from substance abuse and does not support addiction
  • Focuses on the health and wellness of both individuals in the relationship

How Unhealthy Relationships Lead to Relapse

Not only are relationships important, the health of those relationships also matters. When building a relationship after rehab, individuals in recovery should focus on healthy relationships. This is because unhealthy relationships can cause a person to relapse. 

It’s essential to avoid toxic relationships in recovery from addiction. People who you used to do drugs or drink with should be avoided if they haven’t committed to change. These relationships can easily cause a relapse. Therefore, avoiding bad influences is key. If you are concerned a relationship in your life is toxic, these signs will be present:

  • Is codependent 
  • Involves a lot of drama 
  • Makes you feel “insane”
  • Encourages drug or alcohol use
  • Perpetuates negativity in your life
  • Consumes time you do not want to give
  • Diminished your self-worth and self-image 
  • Does not respect or encourage boundaries 
  • Is verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive
  • Features controlling attitudes and manipulation
  • Involves lying and is not based on trust or respect
  • Finding the relationship to be emotionally draining 
  • Unreliability and instability are common in the relationship 
  • Does not support other relationships in your life which are healthy
  • Makes you feel bad about yourself, your appearance, or your personality


In recovery, avoiding stress as much as possible is essential for healing. While no individual’s life is completely stress-free, there is no reason to add a toxic friend, relative, or loved one to the normal sources of stress in life such as school or work. Stress is often the reason that people turn to drugs to feel relief or to “take the edge” off. Rather than entertaining a toxic relationship, it’s better to put distance between yourself and the person so they can change. However, if they can’t make a commitment to change, there is nothing wrong with ending the relationship.

5 Tips for Building Healthy Relationships After Rehab

Healthy relationships are beneficial to every stage of recovery. The people closest to us can support and motivate us to stay on track. They can also hold us accountable in a compassionate way when we make mistakes or fall into old habits. 

Before building a relationship after rehab, it’s important to know how to ensure that the relationship is healthy. This goes for relationships that are romantic and platonic. Often, we tend to focus on putting all of our energy into romantic relationships. However, friendships, relationships with family, and our relationship with ourselves are just as important. 

Knowing how to build a healthy relationship will prepare you to repair old ones and start new ones after rehab. Being able to spot a toxic relationship is equally important as well. Here are 5 tips to help you build healthy relationships after rehab: 

1. Build a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

Have you ever heard the saying: you need to love yourself in order to love someone else? The same applies to building healthy relationships in recovery. It’s important to first have a healthy relationship with yourself. The relationship you have with yourself is the foundation upon which all other relationships are built. If you don’t have this relationship, then it will be difficult to build or maintain a relationship with anyone else.

If you constantly engage in negative self-talk, put yourself down, and criticize yourself, you are more likely to accept this from other people. You are also more likely to do these things to others. When you build a relationship with yourself you:

  • Are compassionate and gentle toward yourself when you make a mistake or fail at something. You might say, “That’s okay,” instead of, “I’m such an idiot.”
  • Don’t blame yourself for your problems, but ask what you can do differently in the future.
  • Accept responsibility for your problems and develop strategies to improve.

By building a strong relationship with yourself, the identity that you may have lost during addiction can be restored. Taking steps to improve your self-esteem will also put you in a better position to take control of your life back. As you continue to recover, you’ll attract people who also value themselves and value others.

2. Set Boundaries 

Boundaries are important in any relationship. This is especially true for people who are just recovering from addiction. Setting boundaries that will keep you focused on your recovery, and allow you to enjoy healthy relationships, can help keep you away from old triggers or unhealthy relationship patterns. With clear boundaries, you can build a relationship after rehab that doesn’t compromise your sobriety and mental health. 

In a relationship after rehab, there will be times where you need to protect yourself and your health. This can take the form of asking someone not to put you in situations that can lead to relapse, such as inviting you out for drinks. Or, it can take the form of letting someone know that you are not comfortable with them crossing certain lines. Either way, creative boundary setting will help to keep you out of harm’s way.

3. Look for Positive Traits in Others

When you want to build a relationship after rehab, you should always look for the positive traits in people that indicate a healthy relationship. These could be kindness, honesty, patience, or cooperation. These traits are essential for healthy functional relationships.

When people are kind, honest, and patient, they can work through any potential conflict that arises. People who are patient and cooperative will not only be able to work through any potential conflicts, they will also make their relationship stronger.

4. Be Open

To build a relationship after rehab, one has to be open. One has to be willing to listen, talk, and share. To build a relationship with someone self-centered is challenging. With an open mind, you can learn about other people’s experiences to connect with them better. This makes it easier to understand their actions and decisions. Being open could even help create strong friendships that last a lifetime.

Being open is also an essential part of making sure you don’t relapse. It’s important to tell the people in your life that you need to stay away from situations with drugs or alcohol. This can help you from being pulled back into the wrong lifestyle.

5. Establish Trust with Family

Many individuals lose the trust of their families when they are abusing drugs or alcohol. They may have let them down by neglecting shared responsibilities or lying about their substance abuse. In these cases, trust will have to be rebuilt.

Showing your family that you have changed and are committed to continuing to get better is the best way to rebuild trust. You can start by showing your family that you are ready to make lifestyle changes. If you have already left treatment, look for new hobbies and activities in your free time. These can show your family that you are making an effort to fill the time with productive activities.

When you do spend time with them, ask about how they have been doing and listen. Helping with household chores and shared responsibilities that you once failed to help with can also help rebuild trust. Overall, intentionally dedicating time and effort will help heal the relationships in your family. 

Develop Your Relationship-Building Skills with New Directions 

Before you build a relationship after rehab, you have to commit to getting sober and undergoing addiction treatment. If you or a woman close to you is actively abusing substances, we can help. Here at New Directions for Women, we help women overcome debilitating substance use disorders. No matter the severity of the addiction, our continuum of care is designed to meet the needs of our patients. To speak with an admissions specialist about our programs, contact us today. Healing is just a call away.

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