How to Repair Relationships in Our Lives

One of the primary stages of maintaining a successful sober recovery is being able to let go of the people in your life that have had a negative impact on you. Perhaps these are friends that you used with, dealers you bought from, and even family members that might have enabled negative feelings like guilt or shame.

The attempt here is to replace negative people with supportive people. Research shows that a good support system promotes a longer-lasting recovery.

The kind of support someone might seek is a therapist, friends, family, or friends made from support meetings. However, another important part of the healing process is repairing relationships.

Oftentimes, in recovery, we have had a falling out with a friend or family member who might have wanted to help, though at the time we pushed them away. These friends and family members might be a good ally, but the relationship is broken.

Can these relationships be salvaged?


Ask Questions Surrounding the Broken Relationship

Like anything in your recovery, it takes identifying the problem. 


  • Why and how did these ties become broken? 


  • Did the patient use these friends and family members for money? 


  • Did the friends or family members become tired of trying to help after they had been burned so many times? 


  • What might be waiting if/when you decide to begin to mend the relationship? Will a level of animosity be waiting? Will there be a lot of guilt and shame thrown at you?


  • Finally, after considering the circumstances, is it practical to try and salvage the relationship this early on in the recovery process?


Great Expectations

  • Sometimes during/after recovery, patients exit a rehab center or a 12 Step program feeling renewed and ready to take on the world. This generates a series of positive ideas that will help change their life. The people they have met during this process have inspired them to take life by the horns. This is popularly known as the “Pink Cloud Syndrome” when everything feels easy.


  • Perhaps someone in recovery should err on the side of caution. While it is great to have renewed ambitions, thinking rationally is recommended.


  • One of the early leading causes of relapse can be trying to do too much too soon.


  • Remember that you have a whole life ahead of you and everything doesn’t need to happen all at once. 



  • Think about goals, it is suggested to start simple and then progress to more difficult challenges. 


  • While making amends is necessary, for some, there is not a specific timeline. However, sometimes there could be unnecessary pressure that surrounds a situation. For example, when following the 12 Steps it can create a feeling of having to complete the list fast, almost treating it as a checklist of chores to be accomplished in a timely manner. The 12 Steps should be used as a blueprint or map that should be referenced from throughout life.


  • The patient needs to go at their own pace when encountering change that is new and difficult for them. Try to avoid creating a sense of defeat when a problem cannot be overcome immediately.



  • Recovery is all about rebuilding one’s life and in order to do that, there needs to be a great deal of trust.  


Feeling Ready 

Once a patient is truly ready, they might consider these questions:


  • How much does this friendship mean to me?


  • Have I considered the amount of damage I have done? 


  • Do I take accountability for those damages? 


  • Am I ready to work on repairing those damages?


  • How am I going to approach this friend?


This last question is important because, considering the amount of damage done to the relationship, a patient needs to consider how they want to reach out. They will want to be respectful, especially if the last time they interacted with this person was a negative experience. 

  • You might consider a text message, an email, or writing a letter, to explain what you have been through, where you are at, and how much you want a  friend or family member to be a part of your life again.


  • You might also consider a phone call, however, a phone call might be too much for the friend or family member to handle. 


  • A face to face approach might not be recommended for the first interaction either. These kinds of interactions can place a friend or family member under a lot of pressure to interact, thus creating added stress and pressure for all parties. 


  • A face to face should be prearranged and agreed on by both parties. You also might want to consider meeting in a comfortable setting for both parties, and perhaps consider a counselor or mediator to be there. Again, this depends on the current status of the relationship.



  • Finally, comes acceptance. In recovery, you should enter into this situation ready to accept how the person responds to your attempt at reconciliation.


  • Remember, everybody copes with things in different ways, and how much time that takes is up to them. Just because you have forgiven yourself and friends or family members, does not mean the friend or family member will meet you with mutual feelings. The purpose is to merely show this friend or family member that you are accepting responsibility for your actions and asking for forgiveness. 


  • While the result might not be the desired outcome, recognize that it could take time. 


  • You have done your part in hopes that it is enough to show this person that you have accepted the responsibility of your actions and that you have changed.


  • In the meantime, you should continue to move forward and work on your best self and you will be sure to get out of life what you truly want. 


Forgiveness can be just as hard to ask for, as it can be to give. Acceptance is part of the recovery process for better or worse. True Recovery offers treatment options to help all people at various stages in their recovery. For more information please call (866) 399-6528