Substance use can cause an individual to do and say things that are embarrassing, upsetting, and frankly, wrong. This could be anything from missing important events and making inappropriate comments to stealing and lying. Any combination of these actions not only upsets your loved ones but also leads to a loss of trust. Especially when there is a history of relapse, it becomes difficult to believe that they will not relapse again and revert to the damaging behavior. It also becomes difficult to trust yourself in potentially triggering situations. Rebuilding trust in recovery is one of the most challenging parts of overcoming addiction and it is a process that happens over time.
Rules for Rebuilding Trust in Recovery
- Take it one day at a time.
- You broke the trust in the first place, so it is up to you to earn it back.
- Use actions, not just words.
- Your loved ones may never fully trust that you will not relapse.
- Consistency & honesty are key.
Taking Trust One Day at a Time
One of the first things taught in any recovery program is “take it one day at a time”. This goes for most aspects of recovery, including rebuilding trust. This process does not happen overnight and it may be frustrating for all parties involved. You may feel in your heart that you are not going to hurt your loved ones again and they probably want to believe you. Unfortunately, they may feel that by trusting again they are making themselves vulnerable to be hurt again. Similarly, you may have thoughts or feelings that make you question your trust in yourself. Even if you have a setback in building trust, know that tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity to prove your trustworthiness.
It’s Up to You to Take the Initiative
Speaking of proving your trust, you are the one who broke the trust, and therefore you need to take the initiative to repair it. Don’t wait for your loved ones to welcome you in with open arms, go in and start showing them how dedicated you are to this process. Make the first call. Make amends. Say no to situations that could be triggering. Create your own opportunities to earn the trust back.
Don’t Say It. Show It.
Words mean little to nothing when you have broken your word in the past, but keeping to your word through your actions is what actually makes a big difference. Completing a treatment program, attending meetings regularly, making it to your daughter’s recital, being home every night sober; these are ways that show you can be trustworthy. Focus on small consistent actions. Even creating a routine for physical activity, sleep, and diet is something that seems small but demonstrates your commitment to building a better, healthier life.
Living With a New Normal
You may always receive inquiries sparked by suspicion and your family may always worry when you don’t answer your phone. You may never be able to take a sip of an alcoholic beverage again without relapsing. In short, you and your loved ones may never be able to trust you in the ways that you were trusted before. These are some of the realities of being an addict. That doesn’t mean that you can’t work to create a new normal that is beautiful, positive, and productive.
Be Consistent. Be Honest.
It’s going to take a great deal of patience to get back to a place of trust. Just because you kept to your word last time doesn’t mean that you will next time. All of those little actions you are using to prove your trustworthiness, do them again and again and again. If you aren’t sure that you will be able to keep your word then be honest about it from the start and communicate that to your loved ones. The more you can be honest and consistent, the more you will trust yourself and the more others will trust you as well.