Strategies For Rebuilding Trust During Addiction Recovery

Posted on May 8, 2023

addict sharing his feelings trying to rebuild trust

The consequences of addiction don’t just affect the addict — they extend far beyond the user’s own mental and physical damage. Many times, those closest to the addict suffer the most. Friendships are broken, families are betrayed, and careers are destroyed.

The recovery journey can be long and difficult without the support of family and friends. People with strong social support are less likely to relapse. While the physical healing can begin quickly once rehab starts, the emotional scars and broken trusts aren’t as quick to resolve. Not only does the person need to re-earn the trust of those around them, but they also need to learn to trust themselves. Fortunately, most times that trust can be rebuilt.

How To Rebuild Trust in Recovery?

So how does a person in recovery start to rebuild trust? Here are some ideas, but keep in mind that trust doesn’t magically reappear overnight and that some relationships may be broken beyond repair. You are earning someone’s trust, but they choose if they want to give it to you.

1. Stay Sober

Staying sober is the first and most critical step in rebuilding trust. It shows commitment, effort, and intent — a sign that other things will change as well. Relapsing may break the fragile trust you’ve just started building. Stay on track. Don’t miss appointments with your therapist or support groups, participate in sober activities, and practice your coping strategies. In short, take care of yourself.

Ask for help if you are beginning to struggle with abstinence. Be honest with yourself and others will help keep your mind in recovery mode. Worst case, display your commitment to sobriety by reentering your addiction treatment center to prevent relapse. There is no shame in returning to treatment.

2. Learn to trust yourself

If you have doubts about yourself and your recovery, how can you convince others to trust you again? Don’t dwell on your past actions. Instead, look at the progress you have made. Recognize your achievements and growth. Keep the vows you’ve made to yourself. Create enjoyable and healthy routines and stick with them.

3. Communicate honestly

Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, especially when repairing one. Talk openly and honestly with others about your feelings, concerns, and expectations — and listen to theirs. This will help keep everyone on the same page.

4. Start slowly

Demonstrate that you are becoming more dependable. Start with the little things — help around the house, show up on time, and remember important appointments and the dates of special events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.). Don’t make empty promises. The people you have hurt are going to be wary and cautious and may not be in a hurry to accept that you’ve changed. Give them time to relearn to trust you.

5. Respect Boundaries

Some people won’t be immediately ready to rebuild. Respect their boundaries. Don’t push yourself on them or try to convince them that things will be different — if you are too insistent, you may destroy what’s left of the relationship. Simply let them know you are committed to your recovery and to regaining their trust. Be honest about the harm you have caused and give them the space needed to heal.

6. Accept that relationships will be different, but show up

Even if you do reestablish trust, accept that some of your relationships will not go back to what they were in the past. Don’t make that an issue, just keep proving yourself trustworthy. In many cases, your relationship will evolve into something better or different.

7. Be humble and ask for forgiveness

Take responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge that substance use played a role, but that you were ultimately responsible. Hold yourself accountable. Don’t be a victim and blame the substances or the circumstances. Ask for forgiveness. Show humility, and tell people what you are doing to heal yourself.

8. Make amends

When the correct moment arises, consider making amends for your actions. Ask how you can make things right, and give your best effort. Don’t rush to do this immediately — wait until you have your situation fully under control and can truly do it right. If you can’t make amends, at least make peace.

9. Give something back

Give back to people through small gestures. Be there to help and support them when they need it. Help your community by volunteering some of your time. Eventually, you may be able to help other people in recovery by volunteering at your local rehab center. These things can make you feel good about yourself and build trust and feelings of goodwill in those around you.

No matter what else you do, nothing builds trust like being trustworthy. Show the world that you can meet your obligations and deserve to have their trust again. There are no shortcuts here. Remember the old adage: trust is the easiest thing to break but the hardest thing to rebuild.

Why Choose Rising Phoenix?

Rising Phoenix Wellness Services is a licensed mental health and substance use disorder Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) in Scottsdale, Arizona. We created our addiction and mental health treatment program to offer a safe, welcoming, and nurturing environment where clients are embraced, not judged, throughout their recovery process.

We offer programming that is based on Integrity, Innovation, Confident Humility, and Mindful Leadership. Our Mission is to help people recognize the unique value of their life and improve their overall health and wellness.

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