How You Can Rebuild Your Relationships Destroyed by Alcoholism

If your relationships have been strained or destroyed due to an addiction issues, keep in mind that there are ways you can rebuild your relationships as you walk your road in recovery. It’s pretty common for loved ones to be casualties when it comes to an alcoholic’s behavior, so know that others have certainly been in your shoes. Good news is that you can rebuild bridges over time with some insight and effort.

Offer a sincere apology
Whether you’ve stolen money from your parents or emotionally abused your partner, both will require that you offer a heartfelt and sincere apology. They may or may not be willing to accept your apology right now, but at least you can offer it. This lets them know that you are sincerely sorry for your behavior and any pain that you’ve caused them. It most likely will not be nearly enough for them to begin trusting you right away, but it is a start.

Remain sober
Another thing you can do to continue rebuilding bridges is to remain sober. Chances are you’ve told your loved ones over the years that you will stop drinking and then you started drinking again. That type of action makes it difficult for loved ones to believe you. If you stay sober, they are more apt to believe that you are really making the effort to get your life together and be more willing to trust you.

Make amends
Apologizing is one thing, but go one step further and make amends where you can. If you’ve stolen money, repay it if you can. If you’ve damaged property, replace it. Maybe you can meet with those who you’ve really hurt face to face in order to let them know how sorry you are.

Be patient
Not everyone is going to just let you into their lives again. It might take time for those that you’ve hurt to heal and trust you again. Be patient. If you get angry and act out, that just goes to show that you’re not really doing internal work. Your goal is not just to stop drinking, but also to change from the inside out.

Keep yourself on track
Your loved ones want to see you successful in every area of your life, so do your best to work on yourself. If you attend 12 Step meetings, work on each step consistently and go over them with your sponsor. Create some goals for yourself and work towards them regularly. As you grow in your own life, rebuilding bridges that have been burned will become easier.

  • 19 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • Dominica,
    Trust is so hard to repair, and it takes so much time and patience to rebuild. I like how you came back on pretty much each topic, explaining that you need to focus your hard work on yourself first. Addiction is such a selfish thing, but when you are on the road to recovery, you also need to be a bit selfish. Its so important that you work on yourself, before you ever try to work on your relationships, but to your loved ones, this is sometimes looked at as just another selfish act. That is why communication is key.

    Chuck P.
  • Life has been very difficult for me in the past. I thought it was everybody else being jerks, but after some deep introspection I can't blame anyone else but myself for my actions and decisions while I was using. I've been writing every day as well as keeping myself busy to avoid falling back on alcohol to cure boredom or to relax. Patience with yourself can go a long way :)
  • The biggest thing is that both parties have to be willing to rebuild the relationship and both parties have to work at it, or it's not going to work. As much as I want to mend fences with my mother, the fact that she continues to drink and she continues to call me when she's drunk to tell me how I should kill myself or how horrible of a person I am or how I'm completely worth it makes me never want to mend those fences and have an actual relationship with her that I've always wanted to have, like other girls my age.
  • I agree with Dana. Both parties need to pull the strings to make it work but remember it's you who has to put in a little extra effort so the person doesn't feel like he is getting set up for another failure again.
  • Now that is the best tip, to rebuild the relations the best is to remain sober and get a normal life once again. Patience is necessary too because wounds take time to heal, but with time the relationship can be rebuilt I think. 
  • I blamed everyone around me for all that was wrong in my life, and what turned me to alcohol.  I don't know how I've managed it, but nobody has turned their back on me, and for that I feel very lucky indeed. 

    Thankfully, I've grown to realize that my problems went much deeper than that, and stemmed from the terrible damage my alcoholic father inflicted on all of his children.  I've seen other peoples' relationships and friendships break down and some repair, some don't.  It's sad, but something you have to accept if you can move forward into a new area of your life. 
  • hellonamesdana  sorry to hear that your relationship with your mother is as it is. that must be tough.  i do hope that in due time your mother will get the help she needs. continue to focus on yourself and bettering your life. maybe she will see the change in you and be inspired along the way.  thanks for sharing.
  • I agree; apologizing is a first necessary step. I know many people who try to skip it out of shame, not wanting to confront the people they hurt and thinking they can just somehow make things better and turn a new leaf without first admitting they did wrong.It's sort of an insult to people who were hurt, who don't even get the decency of a 'sorry'.
  • When it comes to relationships destroyed by alcohol sometimes the only right thing to do is to move on. Especially if the relationship was mutually destructive and both people involved struggled with alcohol. On the other hand if it was a good relationship that suffered as a consequence of alcoholism rebuilding it can be very beneficial. My advice to someone hoping to rebuild a relationship would be to apologise and accept responsibility for your actions.
  • Really good advice dominica. Sometimes we can feel as though we have burnt our bridges with people we have hurt in the past. Your advice offers a little hope and encouragement to those wishing to rebuild their relationships. The best tip is definitely to admit that you were in the wrong and to offer sincere apologies. 
  • @dominica thanks. It's hard to deal with on a regular basis, knowing that I'm not one of those girls I've always wanted to be who could go to their mom with any little problem or just talk to them about whatever is going on in their lives. The second I bring something up to my mom she instantly makes me regret it.
  • This is some good advice which I can definitely relate to.  Although I haven't had problems with alcohol in the past, I have had problems with other (illegal) substances and I think pretty much the same applies.  First of all, you need to let everyone know your sober - if you're not sober then no-one's going to trust you, especially if you have stolen from them or have let them down in the past and hurt them emotionally.  You also have to make sure you stay sober for a very long time in order to build trust again - they will find it hard to have faith in you until you can prove you can do it long-term without relapsing and this takes a lot of patience.  It's also good to try to focus on the positive things in life and to take small steps to lead you to a better place.  Use those steps to construct a better life for yourself, brick by brick.
  • I have mixed feelings about rebuilding relationships with people after sobering up. There are quite frankly some people I have no interest in ever rebuilding relationships with again after the fact. 

    There were some people along the way who really treated me like crap when I was struggling with it, and I got to see what kind of people they really were as a result. Some of my family members, namely my siblings, were using me as a scapegoat or a distraction from their own problems/failures. 

    I have an older sister and an older bother, both in their 40's, who both still live at home with our parents. My sister has been working at a dead end job for 20 years and can't afford to live on her own, and my brother as only been working part time for many years until he recently lost his job and never had any intentions of ever moving out on his own. He also has zero friends. Neither are married. The whole household, between them and my parents is very toxic - they are all at each others throats all day.

    I was the only one of us three who moved out and made something of myself, but when I became caught up in alcohol and got two DUI's that is all they harped on (and continue to do so). I made my own mistakes, but I'm still angry that for all these years, I never made fun of them or criticized them for not doing anything with themselves, but as soon as they got one thing to throw back in my face, because of my drinking, they've been doing it ever since.

    Once my parents pass on, I'm done with both of them. I really have no interest in being in touch with them at all going forward.
  • It's like the same thing when you're trying to work things out in a regular romantic relationship without an alcoholic or drug addict present in the situation. Both parties need to be willing to work on themselves and how they work together in the relationship for it to become a successful one. If only one party is trying to change and the other doesn't put any sort of effort into the relationship at all then it just isn't going to work out and they should really just both call it quits as soon as they possibly can.
  • Building a new relation sometimes is easier than rebuilding an old one, that takes time. Like you say dana, both parts need to be willing to work on themselves. 
  • It depends how long the addiction has gone on for. The harsh reality is that many times you can't rebuild the relationship. Once trust is gone it is pretty difficult to get it back. Also the spouse will be always leary that you might backslide.

    Initially work on rebuilding yourself, if the relationship survives great. But assuming that you can rebuild your relationship might affect your sobriety. If you relationship totally falls appart you don't want to start using again.
  • Yes, I think if we are being serious about trying to mend our relationships with our friends, we should start by trying to apologize with them. Once we apologized, we will have one more reason to give up our bad habits. Should we encounter hard times during our rehabilitation, then we can think of those people that we make amends to.

    I understand it can be hard to gain back the trust that people gave us but if we are really serious about it, our changes will soon be noticeable and eventually, they will start to accept us again. It will be a long process and it might take years but the changes should come gradually.I agree that we should not have too much expectations about that though, especially if it might affect our sobriety.
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