As people in recovery from alcohol and drug use, we know about the physical and psychological toll our addiction has taken on our bodies and minds. Through counseling, therapy, and aftercare programs offered through rigorous drug treatment, we become free from substance use and gain the life and coping skills we need to continue our recovery once we leave treatment. We also know that addiction is a selfish disease that tears apart the lives of your family and your loved ones. The real work in maintaining sobriety is rebuilding those relationships, making amends, and moving forward. Arguably the toughest thing any addict has to do in recovery is rebuilding trust, and it isn’t easy.
Rebuilding Trust…it Takes Time
A big part of your recovery is pulling yourself up from your bootstraps and doing things for yourself. Recovery is a start of a new and exciting chapter in life in which you are healthy, and happy and can work towards being the person that you desire. However, recovery is also a time where you need to do damage control and get to work on repairing the relationships and friendships that were destroyed when you were under the influence. If you think that sobriety is the magic wand that will make everything better, think again. Your real work is beginning, and even though you made that commitment to recovery, the people that you loved and hurt the most are not so easily convinced.
Think about it….you lied, you stole, you cheated and you manipulated and played family members and friends off one another in order for you to continue living the lie of addiction. Your loved ones have heard it all before; what will make this time different? It can be a shock to the system when you notice the wariness coming from family members and friends while you start your journey to recovery. However, you can rebuild trust and mend fences if you understand the steps that go into making those amends. The following are proven tips that will help you rebuild trust in your sobriety.
Tips in Rebuilding Trust
Minimize the Denial
Denial is arguably the strongest defense addicts have in continuing their addiction. It is easy to continue acting and behaving the way you are accustomed to when you aren’t acknowledging what you are doing to those you love. In recovery, you are learning to live without denial and you are finally acknowledging that you have hurt the people around you and admitting you have made mistakes.
Ask for Forgiveness
A crucial early step in your recovery is not only understanding the pain that you caused your family and friends. Not only do you need to understand that pain, you need to acknowledge that pain and ask for forgiveness. As stated earlier, rebuilding trust is a process and your early attempts to reach out for forgiveness may fall on deaf ears or may be met with indifference. It can be discouraging, but keep trying. Forgiveness is crucial in moving forward and if you are sincere and earnest in making progress, your loved ones will eventually come around.
Don’t Expect Trust Right Away
Again, it bears repeating: don’t expect your loved ones to trust you right away. If you are offended that your family and friends refuse the olive branch you offer in the early going, don’t be. You had lied and hidden your behavior repeatedly when you were heavy into your addiction… they have every reason not to trust you. You need to be patient and realize that you must earn their trust all over again. No matter how long it takes, you need to do the work.
Learn to Communicate
As an addict, we tend to bottle up what we feel inside and let it sit, and communicating what we truly think and feel took a backseat to get our next fix. Learning to communicate in a direct fashion and saying what you truly think and feel will help build better relationships and friendships.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Do you truly want to win back the trust and respect of your loved ones? Learn to keep your word. The more you can prove that you can be honest in all of your affairs, the more likely you will be to earn the trust that you had lost.
You Have to Stay Sober
This goes without saying. It is so obvious, but it is necessary that you continue to work on your program of recovery. You need to put forth the effort and time to maintain your sobriety. It is a fact that relapse is a reality for many addicts and it can have a huge impact on your ability to start over with broken friendships and relationships with family. By continuing to stay sober, you will help others to realize that you are working hard to change.
Give it Time to Work
Things won’t change overnight. It may take many months before your family and friends start to come around and see that your recovery is real. Being patient and remaining humble during this process will go a long way in making amends with those you love.
Your recovery gives you the opportunity to be the parent, sibling, or friend that you want to be. Take every moment that you can to spend time with those you love and try to atone for your past mistakes.
Not only does recovery not happen overnight, but you also cannot recover by yourself. Stay active in your twelve-step meetings and other sober support groups. Continuing to be an active member of the recovery community not only shows you are serious about sobriety, but it also helps you stay focused and you will receive support and encouragement from other get help from others who are going through the same process of repairing relationships. You can count on the people in these groups to give you advice when you need it most.