Anyone who has battled a substance use disorder would have to admit that it took a significant toll on their relationships. While in the throes of active addiction all energy is focused on meeting the demands of the substance. This, unfortunately, leads to actions and words that cause harm to loved ones.
Over the course of the substance use period, loved ones stop believing anything you told them. Trust was fractured. Now that you are in recovery, attention is directed towards restoring those relationships and mending the broken trust. In fact, the process of making amends to loved ones in recovery is an important first step in the restoration of trust.
The Importance of Trust
When we betray a loved one or in some way violate their trust, it can seriously damage the relationship. When in active substance use, these occasions happen far too often, resulting in deeply hurt feelings. Making amends to those you have hurt is the beginning of the healing process.
The rebuilding of the relationship will require time and space. Forgiveness may not happen immediately. Your loved one needs time to work through his or her feelings, so don’t be disheartened or get defensive if they are guarded or resist your efforts at first. Make your sincere apology, assure them that you are committed to an honest and open relationship based on truth, and then follow through with your promises. In time your loved one will see you as someone worthy of their trust again.
6 Tips for Restoring Relationships in Recovery
Early on in recovery, there is a desire to right past wrongs and to earn back the trust of loved ones. It is understood that this is a process that will take time. Reconciling a broken relationship will happen only if there is a commitment to the following six actions:
- Keep Your Word. While in active substance use your actions did not match your words, and you lost credibility. In recovery, to regain someone’s trust depends on consistently keeping your word. Make every effort to be a person of integrity and do as you say you will. If you fall short, be honest and admit your lapse in judgment, and then ask for forgiveness.
- Respect Boundaries. Boundaries offer family members and friends an invisible safety zone. They established the boundaries to protect themselves while you stabilize in recovery. Boundaries are a two-way street, as they can also protect you from enabling behaviors or codependency. Respect and honor these boundaries and eventually you will regain the trust of loved ones.
- Remain Accountable. Taking responsibility for your recovery means remaining accountable for the actions that support it or hurt it. Family members and loved ones will need to be convinced that you are serious about the decisions you make and that you take personal responsibility for your recovery.
- Fulfill Your Obligations. Promises mean nothing if they aren’t followed up with actions. By fulfilling your daily responsibilities, be they work related, parenting, financial obligations, or household chores, you are demonstrating character and trustworthiness.
- Communicate. Open communication with your significant others is the platform upon which trust is formed. Truth and honesty in your conversations are essential in recovery and help build credibility back again. Stay connected to your loved ones, and be willing to share your honest feelings with them along the way.
- Work Your Recovery. Your family and close friends will be paying attention to your recovery efforts. When they witness you attending meetings regularly, avoiding old acquaintances from the substance use days, and adhering to a healthy daily routine it helps them trust in your commitment to sobriety.
Regaining a loved one’s trust is going to take time. It is likely that they will want you to prove yourself, to demonstrate your commitment to moving forward in recovery. As they grow to trust you again the relationship will slowly begin to heal. Respect the process and don’t forget to exercise patience.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.