Is It Possible to Rebuild Relationships Broken from Addiction?

Rebuild relationships that are broken from addictionJohn Lavitt, a writer for The Fix, explained in 2016 his personal testimony and lessons learned in recovery regarding the rebuilding of relationships in recovery. He explained that it’s overwhelming – and for many, it is – because a person becomes more aware of their actions and how they’ve affected others. Here is an excerpt from his story:

“I soon realized, however, that rebuilding family relationships was not just about cleaning up the mess. No matter how much I wanted to do so, I could not repair those bridges on my own timeline. Rather, I needed to provide them with evidence that I had changed by learning to be a positive and productive member of my family.”

A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences found that for most people in recovery, all they want is family support; they want their family’s love and acceptance while they make improvements to their lives for both themselves and their loved ones. While this sounds ideal, what happens if that’s not the case? What if some family members no longer want to be supportive, or want to cut ties altogether?

For those in recovery, this can be devastating. A person in recovery needs as much support as they can get – but as the personal testimony mentioned above emphasizes, we cannot control the timeline of our loved one’s healing process. Of course, there are some steps that we can take to show our loved ones that we’re serious about making amends, such as:

  • Writing them a letter or apologizing to them in person and admitting our wrongs
  • Being patient when family members are unwilling to move forward with certain aspects of daily living because they need to develop more trust first
  • Listening to what family members have to say, without becoming defensive or feeling a need to explain
  • Allowing family members to undergo their own therapy if they need it, rather than receive guidance from us
  • Accept the reality that some relationships simply cannot be repaired
  • Believe in the process of time, healing and recovery

In the end, you can only do so much. 12-Step programs emphasize several steps towards making amends with others – but even someone isn’t ready to reconnect, we must let it be.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.