Building Trust After Addiction Recovery
Drug addicts lose a lot of things during the course of their addiction. They lose money, weight, jobs, freedom, and sometimes, their drugs. And sooner or later, they lose the trust of their friends and loved ones
Trust is something that must be earned and that makes it even harder to regain. Rebuilding trusting relationships has no shortcuts.
Repairing Relationships In And After Addiction Recovery
Even if you’re in addiction recovery and not using drugs or alcohol anymore, facing your broken relationships and struggling with the social elements of your life is not going to be easy. No doubt, you feel like:
- No one trusts you
- People are suspicious of you
- Everyone is waiting for you to make another mistake
Stress like this is a leading cause of relapse so try not to let it get you down. Take measures to relieve the stress and believe that there is always hope. These tips will help guide you on how to build trust with your loved ones while you’re in recovery.
Points To Remember About Repairing Relationships After Addiction Recovery
- Remember that it will take time. You can’t repair a relationship in a day, especially if you’ve been in recovery before. Don’t rush the process and put too much pressure on yourself.
- Make an action plan. Making amends is an important part of any addiction recovery program. After you feel more confident in your recovery, making amends will be one of the first things that you will do. It’s best to work with a counselor or professional on this, particularly in the beginning. They will be able to help you identify the things you did and said to hurt the people you care about. From then on, make an action plan that will get you to your goal.
- Be honest about your past. One of the most important things you can do when trying to repair a relationship is to be open about your actions in the past. Let loved ones know the times you have lied, cheated, and stolen things–even if they didn’t already know. Admitting faults is important for gaining back trust.
- Try to make amends and make up for the damage. Making amends is different from apologizing. To truly make amends with the person you hurt, it may mean you have to buy or replace something. And it could be an expression of remorse and honesty.
- Vow to be honest and stick to it. It’s vitally important to be honest about your past but you must remember to be honest going forward. One lie in the future could undo all the work you’ve done to rebuild trust.
Why Do We Trust?
Trust is a belief in the truth, ability, reliability, and strength of someone or something. We feel safe and secure because we trust. We don’t feel safe when we don’t trust. Author Charles Feltman outlines the 4 elements of trust that are the basis for trust in any relationship.
The 4 Elements of Trust
Sincerity and integrity come from being truthful and genuine. Can you be trusted to say what you mean and vice versa? Are you believable? Integrity is a measure of the degree we are internally compatible with what we do. When we are, our actions line up with our words. It also means that when you state an opinion, it is credible and backed up by sound thinking and evidence.
Are you reliable to meet your commitments and keep your promises? Reliability is also linked to integrity. Can you be counted on to do what you said? This is also about communicating when you know it’s not possible. In this case, reliability includes being counted on to stay in communication.
This is especially important in a professional setting. Do you have the ability, aptitude, and knowledge to do what you said you would do? Being viewed as competent means that someone is judging you and you have met the standards. Naturally, competence is relative and not true in all areas of life. It also doesn’t mean perfection.
The most important element for building long-term trust is care. This is the element where people believe that you have their interests in mind as well as your own when making decisions. If you show that you are only concerned with your own self-interest, then their ability to trust you is limited.
Why Is Trust Important In Recovery?
When people decide to go from addiction to recovery, one of the difficult parts is learning to trust. This means trusting other people and yourself. When you’re in recovery, you need to learn to use your core values and trust your own judgment again. Sometimes, people forget they are able to make positive decisions for themselves because they get caught up in the drama of their addicted life. This has to be overcome as part of recovery.
Core values are your basic beliefs about what is right or wrong. Addiction causes people to forget their beliefs and core values because their attention is on the next drink or hit. After you get into recovery, core values can be rebuilt.
As you get back in touch with your core values you will continue to progress in your recovery. When you listen to your core values, you’ll begin to trust yourself. As you learn to trust yourself more, your core values will gain strength. As you begin this process, these questions will help you stay in recovery:
What Is important to you?
Knowing what is important to you will be a guide for the rest of your life.
What Is frustrating for you?
Knowing what frustrates you will help you gain insights into your triggers and help you know what to avoid and understand when to relax and unwind.
What Do You enjoy?
Knowing what you enjoy will help you know how to unwind.
This is part of learning to trust yourself again. When you have self-trust, you can then begin to rebuild trust with others.
7 Steps For Rebuilding Trust After Addiction Recovery
1. Focus On Yourself
During your first year in recovery, expect people to be skeptical of everything you do. They’ve lost trust in you because of your behavior. You lose trust because of something you did. The way to fix this is from the inside out. In other words, focus on yourself. The lies and deception during your addiction came from within you so you need to start there.
2. Don’t Act Like A Victim
There is a possibility that some bad things happened to you. You might be dealing with death or a sexual assault or the loss of a parent. The reality is that sometimes, life is hard and if you live with a victim mentality, people will not want to be around you. People will never trust you if you keep blaming a circumstance for the reason you behaved the way you did.
Lose the “poor me” attitude and take back control of your life. There’s always something to be grateful for. If you have an experience you need to grieve over, it’s alright, but taking control means taking steps to deal with the situation. Trustworthy people are not victims, they’re survivors.
3. Stick To A Routine
Addiction makes you undisciplined and that makes you unpredictable and that means you’re unreliable. People tend to not trust unpredictable and unreliable people. However, being reliable can be learned. Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” When building a broken relationship, you have to start with yourself. Get to work on time, show up places when you said you would, build a healthy lifestyle and stick to it. No excuses.
4. Do the Right Thing
If you don’t know the right thing to do in a situation, then ask someone. Everyone makes mistakes and people aren’t perfect so if you make a mistake it’s okay. But if you are really trying to be a better person it will pay off. You’ll feel good about yourself and people who respect themselves also respect other people.
5. Don’t Ask for Approval Or Expect A Reward
You don’t deserve a medal for doing what you’re supposed to do. And you don’t need to brag about it either. It’s nice to be recognized for doing well but if you’re trying to win back someone’s trust, you shouldn’t expect a reward for doing what you need to do. When you do the right thing, the feeling of being a good person should be your reward. However, if you’re doing it just to “appear” to be trustworthy, you’re not trustworthy. You’re manipulative.
6. Be Above Suspicion With Your Word
Your word may be more valuable than money so you need to protect it. You have to discipline it, take care of it, and respect yourself enough to take yourself seriously. On the other hand, it’s important not to commit to too much. Don’t get in the habit of trying to please everyone. If you can’t seriously commit to something, there’s nothing wrong with saying no. Saying no is better than committing to something and then not following through.
7. Be Persistent
The point that someone begins to trust you again is not up to you. The process can be very slow and you need to be consistent. The harder you work to earn someone’s trust, the more valuable it will be.
There is no guarantee that these steps will rebuild all the relationships you have damaged. If your past behaviors have made it so you’ll never regain some of those relationships, you will just have to learn to live with that. Sometimes it happens that no matter how honest and dependable you become, and how hard you try, some people will never trust an alcoholic or a drug addict.
If you know in your heart that you have done all you can do then don’t worry about it. You have still come out ahead. The work you have done was not for nothing. From this point onward, every relationship you make will be based on an honest, trustworthy, and sober foundation. If you remain a good person and continue to do the right thing, good things will happen for you.
Rebuilding Trust In A Friendship
Depending on what you did to betray your friend’s trust, getting back that friendship will take time and effort. Here are some ideas on how to rebuild trust with your friend:
- Apologize and give them space. They will listen to your apology and need some time and space to process the event and think about how they want to go forward.
- Tell the truth about what led to your mistake. Don’t make excuses but there was a cause and effect.
- Be empathetic. No matter what the reason was, you hurt someone. You need to see things from their side and consider how you would feel in the same situation.
- Avoid gossip. Don’t involve anyone else in your mistake. The less negativity, the better.
Rebuilding Trust After Addiction Recovery
You can start to rebuild yourself, your family, and all your important relationships. Addiction is treatable and you can learn to trust and respect yourself again. At Little Creek Recovery, we understand the process and have experience in helping people regain their core values.
Little Creek Recovery Can Help You Get Your Life Back
We have treatment programs that include a medication-assisted detox, residential treatment, and several intensive outpatient programs. Because family relationships are so important, and typically seriously harmed by addiction, we also have a family therapy program. Our licensed therapists and addiction specialists will create a treatment plan specifically for you. Contact us today and start rebuilding your life.