Lifestyle Changes in Recovery: Rebuilding Family Relationships

This article discusses addiction, its effect on family members, and how families can recover together. This article discusses addiction, its effect on family members, and how families can recover together.

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD, MPH

family relationships

Table of Contents

Addiction Hurts the Whole Family

When someone struggles with addiction, they have likely experienced how negatively it affects familial relationships. Typically, people have no intention of hurting people they love. However, upon entering, addiction usually has other plans.

Drug addiction slowly overtakes humans’ minds, willpower, and emotions—it does not discriminate.

How Families Can Fall Apart

The longer someone is in active addiction, the more out-of-character their actions become. As a result, relationships typically fall to the wayside.

Where once someone was an integral family member may now be unable or uninvited to participate. After addiction becomes the mind’s driver, compulsive addictive behaviors are likely unwelcome at family gatherings.

Trust becomes frayed. Money might go missing, promises may consistently break, and bridges are in danger of permanent damage.

However, there is good news. There are ways to repair wreckage caused by addiction and demonstrate a willingness to grow. Addiction no longer has to rule the day, and people no longer have to suffer enslavement from it.


How Does Addiction Divide My Family?

Relationships can be rebuilt and restored, starting with honesty, love, and acceptance. Whether you or someone you know is seeking help, therapy, and treatment are available to overcome addiction.

We can accept that people sometimes:

  • struggle
  • are in pain
  • become remorseful
  • feel embarrassed
  • are traumatized
  • make mistakes

Furthermore, we can understand ourselves and each other for being human. Humans will never stop making mistakes; therefore, we must never stop learning to adapt and overcome.

So be kind to one another. People all struggle with something they don’t discuss with others. However, when it comes to addiction, this is a discussion worth having.

Learning to Rebuild Trust

Through the storm, families may have lost trust in each other and don’t know how to get it back. It can be hard to believe someone who hurt them.

Likewise, asking someone who got hurt for help can be challenging. Therefore, there is only progress when we meet in the middle.

Families can build stronger relationships and adapt to recent changes by establishing new boundaries to move forward. Learning to forgive is beneficial for everyone.

The people we love will see hardships; there is no doubt. But it is how humans bond together in times of despair that build the foundation they share. Education and compassion are the keys to unlocking deep connections with our loved ones.

How Can My Family Come Back Together?

If addiction continues, the pain and devastation continue also. Generally, most people who struggle with addiction also deal with feelings of extreme guilt or remorse.

While under the influence, people often behave abnormally to their typical patterns. These abnormalities can look like rudeness, changed sleep patterns, theft, lying, and other out-of-character behaviors.

People must be ready to change their negative behaviors when redirecting unwanted behaviors.

Can Addiction Treatment Help?

When beginning drug and alcohol treatment, medical professionals suggest that people start healing by attending family and individual therapies.

In addition, the patient’s family can access support groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon for resources. In this way, families can begin educating themselves on addiction.

As a disease, people closest to the patient can learn how to support their person to recover in the healthiest way possible. For example, positively involving a family in treatment can restore and heal relationships.

Additionally, family and loved ones can track the patient’s progress and see the results with their own eyes. Finally, as a part of the patient’s journey, families can bond over a joint experience.

At the end of the day, if a person wants to restore trust and heal relationships, their actions must speak louder than their words. Therefore, self-advocating for rehab treatment is a suggestion worth considering.

Can My Family Heal from Addiction?

Firstly, the thing to consider when restoring familial relationships is that it will take time. But yes, families can heal from addiction. Sometimes even stronger than before.

Though many may want to see immediate change, expecting as much is unrealistic. There are likely several hurt feelings that need processing, which is okay.

Allowing family members to take their time allows the communal space to remain safe and approachable.

Communication is Key

Family members and patients can harmonize the communal space by requesting time set aside in the future to talk. Understanding that everyone has different schedules and respecting their time shows a willingness to participate.

However, all members involved can only control themselves, not the situation or anyone else. So, it is equally essential to accept others’ decisions gracefully.

During active addiction, negative interaction habits become a primary communicative defense tool. These harsh encounters become routine to avoid communication and unwanted attention.

However, family members invite growth opportunities by learning how to have healthy interactions with each other. Likewise, taking the time to seek communication and attention deserves celebrating.

Communication is the vital foundation for all relationships. Whether we must forgive or ask others for forgiveness, being honest about emotions is the only way humans can grow.

When reduced to its origins, families typically find that the root of the problem was fear, trauma, or both.

How Can My Family Maintain Healthy Relationships?

Upon graduation from treatment, working to rebuild and restore relationships doesn’t end at the door. Day one of a new life can be problematic if those around them still hurt from the patient’s previous life.

It’s okay and encouraged to start fresh, but sometimes family members need time and space to return. These reactions are common, and nothing needs to happen in response. Everyone has their path to processing emotions, and each deserves respect.

Participating in Family Therapies

By engaging in communal therapies, families can gain professional perspectives and learn from each other.

The most successful addiction recoveries involve a strong support system at home. So, allowing each other to grow and change can bring families together.

Graduated patients can keep their rehab experience as a pivotal life redirection. For example, creating and maintaining boundaries, healthy communication, and physical wellness education can serve anyone well in their life.

Moving Forward Together

Of course, people will fall down; that’s part of life. However, how we respond to those in need shapes us into who we are.

If we genuinely love the people around us, we need to love them the way they ask to be loved, not how we want to love them. If someone we love is crying out for help, choose to help them.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, consider contacting a rehab specialist. Regardless of the situation, services and resources are available to you and your family.

Furthermore, a specialist can offer information about accepted insurances and payment options for uninsured patients.

Stay Safe, Stay Positive

Suppose you feel uncomfortable or unsafe approaching a friend or family member about their drug use. In that case, interventions are available to protect yourself and your loved one.

There is always hope, no matter how bad a situation is. As life progresses, individual paths can unwind and manifest into things we never thought possible. So, though this can be a scary time for you and your family, this too shall pass.

Families can heal and grow from a distressing chapter in their lives by moving forward with love, patience, and compassion.


[1] The Goals and Benefits of Family Therapy – Comprehensive MedPsych Systems
[2] Forgiveness: Your Health Depends on It | Johns Hopkins Medicine
[3] The Importance of Family Involvement in Rehab – Recover Today (
[4] Seeking Treatment for Your Loved One – A Better Today Recovery Services (

Related Educational Content and Guides

Lifestyle Changes in Recovery: Changing One’s Mindset (
Children & Substance Abuse: Teaching Destructive Coping Mechanisms – A Better Today Recovery Services (
What to Expect During Your Loved One’s Treatment – A Better Today Recovery Services (

Susana Spiegel

Susana Spiegel

Susana has experience writing about addiction, treatment, mental health, and recovery. She holds a Bachelors in Arts of Theology from GCU, and has a deep empathy for those who are struggling with addiction, as she is in recovery herself.

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