In this article, we review the literature on interpersonal stress and rejection sensitivity and examine how these factors increase the risk of relapse in individuals with alcohol or drug dependence. We begin by considering the constructs of social pain and social threat, examining their evolutionary origins and their neuroanatomic, neuropsychological, and neurophysiological dimensions. Together, these perspectives provide insight into the role of interpersonal stress as a powerful and oftentimes destructive factor that affects individuals in recovery from substance dependence. We then review the empirical evidence showing that intrapersonal traits and interpersonal environments interact to increase an addict’s risk of relapse. We conclude by proposing that substance-dependent individuals with high-trait rejection sensitivity and a critical interpersonal environment are particularly vulnerable to relapse to substance use.