5 Ways to Gain Back Trust After Addiction
“My relationships took a big beating,” begins a video posted online by Narconon International. The man speaking in the video is a graduate of the Narconon drug rehab program, and he is one of four people who appear in the feature to tell their story of how addiction cost them the trust of those they cared about. Another man in the video tells us that his alcoholism ruined his marriage and even led him to be cut off from his daughter for a time. The experiences they relate are common among addicts given that drug and alcohol abuse will in most cases take a serious toll on a person’s relationships. The reasons for this are many. To begin with, there is the simple fact that an addict will normally try to keep the problem a secret. This secrecy inevitably branches out into other areas of life, until the person is constantly telling new lies to cover their tracks and support old lies about where they have been, what they have been doing and who they have been with. Further, the mind-altering effects of drugs and alcohol tend to lead an addict into doing things that are against their better judgment, from stealing to cheating and more.
A person who has gotten clean and sober may no longer be drinking or using drugs, but very often will be facing a social landscape of ruined relationships and shattered trust. Even when the person still has friends and family, he or she may find that they are suspicious and reluctant to place their trust in the person. This situation can make it difficult to maintain a recovery, since the cloud of suspicion tends to make a recovered addict feel stigmatized and may even push him or her back into using. Fortunately, there are steps one can take towards regaining trust that has been lost through addiction:
One – Tell the Truth The first and most obvious thing you can do to rebuild trust is to open up about the past. This may mean that you have to admit to having stolen something of your family member’s to get money to buy drugs, or that you cheated on your spouse. The truth may hurt to learn, but ultimately it is better for the person to know the facts rather than leaving him or her with guesses and suspicions that may be even worse than what actually happened. Remember: As much as you may feel anxious not to tell the truth about your past, the fact that the person stayed by your side while you were an addict is a sign of dedication, and you can return this faith by trusting in them to forgive you.
Two – Be Honest and Open You must not only be truthful about what you did during your time as an addict, but you also need to maintain that honesty from here on out. It is not necessary to live your life in a glass house, but you have to go out of your way not to conceal important information from your family and friends when it is something they should know.
Three – Make Up the Damage You Have Done In some cases, this may require that you, for example, replace something that you stole or broke, while in other cases it may be necessary for you to take some action or make some type of contribution to compensate the other person for the hurt you have caused. What you can do to make up the damage will depend on who the other person is, the nature of your relationship with them and what exactly you did to violate their trust, but it is something that must be done if you are to truly regain that trust.
Make a New Vow of Fidelity People who are working to rebuild trust often skip this step because they think that it goes without saying or they don’t want to sound trite in promising to tell the truth. Don’t underestimate it. Your friend or family member needs to hear you voice a clear and unequivocal statement to the effect that you are now going to be honest, that you are on their side and that you intend to foster and protect your relationship.
Be Worthy of Trust Now that you have done what you can to clear things up and to rebuild a basis of trust, you need to do everything that you can to maintain and build it. This goes beyond simply telling the other person the truth. You also need to avoid doing things that you wouldn’t want him or her to know about it. Maintain your own integrity and live your own life, but do not do things that you feel would violate the trust that you have worked so hard to get back.