5 Ways You Can Rebuild Trust With Your Loved Ones Throughout Your Addiction Recovery
Addiction damages relationships, even destroys some. The most insidious impact of addiction on a relationship is the collapse of trust. In recovery, it is essential for the newly sober individual to work to rebuild that trust with loved ones. It takes time, patience, and actions. Building up trust once again repairs and strengthens the important relationships, which in turn strengthen recovery. Those relationships are crucial for maintaining sobriety long-term and avoiding relapse.
If you’re in recovery from an addiction, you may feel like you’ve won a hard-fought battle. You want to relax and enjoy your new life, but your loved ones are wary. They don’t trust you anymore, and with good reason. Addiction takes a toll on trust, one of the most important features of a positive, close relationship.
The good news is that you can rebuild trust. And when you do, those relationships will be stronger than ever. The cycle is self-reinforcing too. As you strengthen your social connections, your loved ones can better support your recovery and help you avoid relapse.
How Addiction Damages Relationships
Misusing drugs or alcohol may seem like a personal choice that only harms you, but this isn’t true. Your actions affect your loved ones too. While struggling with an addiction, you damaged close relationships whether you meant to or not.
Your actions and choices triggered worry and distress in loved ones. You became someone your loved ones could not rely on for their own support. They lost trust in you. In some cases, an addict’s behaviors may also lead to physical abuse or harm.
Why It’s Important to Rebuild Relationships
Humans are social animals. We thrive in social networks and struggle when isolated. No one succeeds at anything in life alone. We all rely on each other for support and help. This includes addiction recovery. Strong relationships are essential to ongoing recovery for several reasons:
- Good relationships enhance quality of life, which makes it easier to stay sober.
- Social support is a proven tool for successful and lasting recovery.
- Bad relationships cause stress, depression, isolation, and other negative emotions that hinder your recovery.
- Positive and close relationships give you the chance to practice skills learned in treatment in a safe way.
When you struggle with addiction, your relationships take a hit. Often the biggest roadblocks to repairing those relationships is the loss of trust. Here are five major ways you can work to rebuild it.
1. Apologize for Past Mistakes
Actions speak louder than words, but an apology is a powerful way to start rebuilding trust. A heartfelt apology for how you hurt your loved ones with past behaviors promotes their emotional healing. It helps them let go of anger toward you and work toward forgiveness.
An apology can be a step in the right direction, but only if you do it right:
- Be specific about why you’re apologizing. It’s no fun to revisit the past and the choices and behaviors you find shameful now, but it is necessary. Tell your loved ones exactly what you’re sorry for from your past.
- Acknowledge that your actions caused them harm. Recognize their feelings and how your actions affected your loved ones.
- Avoid excuses for past behaviors. Instead, take full responsibility for the decisions you made and how you hurt your loved ones.
- Tell your loved ones how you will make up for what you did in the past. Be specific and concrete.
Your apology will amount to nothing if you don’t back it up with actions. Start here but continue to take active steps to rebuild trust and prove you mean what you say.
2. Take Recovery Seriously
Consider the situation from the perspective of your family. They’re probably worried that you will relapse and start using again. The last thing they want is a regression to the way things were before your treatment and recovery. If you get too relaxed in your recovery or take unnecessary risks, they may not trust your intentions.
One of the most important things you can do to regain their trust is to take your recovery seriously. Don’t assume that just because you’re strong in sobriety now that you will be indefinitely. Relapse is common. The best way to minimize the risk is to remain vigilant and to keep doing the work required for recovery.
This could mean attending support groups regularly or continuing with outpatient therapy. Even if you feel good about recovery now, keeping up with treatment and support shows your family how serious you are about sobriety. They’ll come to trust that you are doing whatever it takes to remain sober.
3. Take Actions To Be More Responsible and Dependable
Trust is built on actions. Your loved ones need to see changed behaviors. As an addict, they could not depend on you. Your behaviors were irresponsible. Now is the time to thoughtfully and consciously show them that they can depend on you.
It will take time for them to believe that you have changed your behaviors. By taking steps daily to be responsible and reliable, eventually, they will begin to trust you again. Do concrete things consistently that demonstrate you can be trusted. For example:
- Take over certain household chores and do them regularly.
- Show up on time for every event, date, or obligation.
- Set education or career goals and work toward them.
- Turn down invitations to risky parties or events with old friends who still use.
- When you promise to do something, follow through.
- Avoid making excuses. If you mess up, apologize.
Over time, these actions show your loved ones that you can be dependable, that they can rely on you to make the right choices, and that they can trust you.
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4. Establish a Routine
Daily and weekly routines are useful for your sobriety. It’s when you have down time, unexpected gaps and boredom, that you may be tempted to use again. A routine is also a good way to show your loved ones that you are serious about making changes.
A routine keeps you busy but also allows you to establish healthy habits that promote ongoing recovery. Your routine should include time for daily exercise, healthy eating habits, a consistent sleep schedule, ongoing treatment, and new hobbies and activities to engage your mind and improve quality of life.
Include your loved ones in your new routine to show them what you’re doing. This could mean regular family therapy sessions, working out together, going for daily walks, or making dinner together every day. Their involvement in your new healthy lifestyle shows loved ones you’re making positive changes and sticking with them.
5. Work on Communication
In order to trust you again, your loved one needs to know what you’re doing, thinking, and planning. It may seem intrusive but be an open book so there are no mysteries. When your loved ones don’t know what’s going on with you, their imaginations fill in the blanks and go to the worst possibilities.
Healthy, positive communication takes practice. It is a skill to be learned. If you didn’t participate in family therapy while in treatment, consider doing it now. Family or relationship therapy can help you learn how to communicate more effectively with each other. A therapist can teach you the skills you need to communicate and provide an opportunity to practice in a safe environment.
Above all, rebuilding trust requires time and patience. Don’t expect your loved ones to trust you as soon as you come out of treatment. They need to hear your words and see your actions that demonstrate you have made lasting, positive changes. Keep working at it every day, and eventually trust will return.