How to Build Trust with a Loved One During Recovery
It’s difficult to work through recovery knowing that your loved one may not forgive you. That’s a reality many people with long-term addiction face. It may seem painful to you that your loved one isn’t returning your calls or is no longer willing to trust what you say or do. You’ve promised to change. You may expect them to forgive you and trust you again now that you’re in treatment.
But it may not be so easy.
Even family members and friends who are very close struggle with trust. Often, they want to trust you, but they know there’s a risk of relapse. They may be trying to protect themselves from having to feel that pain and discomfort again or from watching you overdose again. Or, they may feel they have to watch you closely so they can get you help as soon as you need it.
No matter what’s happening in your relationships, it’s critical to work to rebuild trust. Time will help, especially if you remain drug-free. Yet, there’s more you’ll need to do and recognize before you’ll be able to fully regain trust with a loved one during addiction recovery.
Steps to Rebuild Trust in Addiction
There’s no simple plan or specific set of steps you can follow to make everyone forgive you. Yet there are some things you can keep in mind as you embark on your journey.
#1: It’s not your decision
This may be the hardest part of any recovery process. You have come to the realization that no matter how much you want a person to trust you, forgive you, and move on from what’s happened, you cannot make them do it.
It may take a lot of time and hard work to reach trust again. It may never come. If this person truly cannot or will not try, they may not be someone that you want in your life long term.
#2: Truly apologize
Without making any excuses for your actions, apologize to your loved one and mean it. Often, showing your true feelings can help them to see you want to change and recover. You may want to gather your thoughts to compose a video or write a letter to them explaining the remorse you feel. When possible, fix what has been broken. Pay for any physical or property damage you may have caused; pay back any money you borrowed or stole to buy substances.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t place blame on others. Take ownership of what’s happened. Discuss what you could have done differently. Don’t say, “But it was the drugs” or “But you didn’t help me.”
#3: Prove to them you’re trustworthy
This may take a lot of time, but it’s critical in the process. Prove you can be trusted.
- Do everything you say you are going to do. Be careful not to make promises you can’t keep.
- Consider their feelings when making decisions. How will a particular decision impact their trust of you?
- Remove yourself from risk. This can help to alleviate a lot of the fear your loved ones may have. That may mean no
longer talking to people who you used with or not surrounding yourself with others who use.
- Work to rebuild yourself. Your loved ones may be more willing and able to listen and trust you if they see that you’re working on healing mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- Stay in therapy. Show them you are committed to this recovery long term.
All of these things show your loved one you are capable of being trusted. They also show that you’re working on improving on a consistent basis.
It’s also important to do all of these things for the right reason. Don’t do them because you want your loved one to trust you. Do them because they are going to facilitate your recovery and help better your health and well-being.
It May Not Help – And That’s Okay
Even if the closest person in your life is no longer willing to trust you, you can overcome that and rebuild your future. The biggest decision you can make in these situations is to be okay with it if your loved one just cannot forgive and move on. After all, they have to do what’s best for them, too.
You’re a Survivor, and You Will Recover in Time
Drug and alcohol addiction can cause you to act in ways that hurt yourself and others. Even as you work hard to recover – and do everything right – it may be that certain relationships will never recover.
As a survivor of drug addiction, you’ll be able to overcome this challenge. All of the steps you’ve taken to rebuild trust with others will help foster a better version of yourself.
If you’re struggling with relationships after addiction, it may be time to step back into some form of aftercare treatment. Our weekly aftercare meetings at Victory Addiction Recovery Center will help you build support systems in your community and forge new friendships built on shared experiences.
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