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Rebuilding trust is a major component in the recovery process, one that takes time, thought and action. The devastating effects of substance abuse and addiction extend much further than simply the addicted individual, but rather to touch all aspects of their lives, including friends and family as well. When using, it’s easy to become consumed by addiction. Often, individuals will stop at nothing to get their next high, even if that means turning their back on loved ones. After years of broken promises, selfish decisions and dishonesty, addiction takes a serious toll on relationships, even destroying the closest of bonds.

Almost every individual suffering from addiction will have lost trust along the way during their addiction. After starting on the path to recovery, it’s common to experience feelings of guilt and shame, and regaining trust may seem like an insurmountable task. How can my loved one trust me now, when I was so dishonest in my addiction? How can I trust myself to make good decisions and do the right thing?

Mending broken relationships and rebuilding trust in recovery will not happen overnight – but with the right commitment and effort, you can rebuild the trust that was once there, even with a newfound and deeper meaning than ever before.

How to Rebuild Trust in Recovery

Start with you. The journey of rebuilding trust in recovery begins with learning to trust yourself again. Don’t let your past define your future. You have made the active commitment to start a new chapter and to live life to the fullest. Continue with this commitment by making active steps to support a life in recovery. Practice rigorous honesty with yourself. Set goals, stick to a daily schedule and focus on supporting positive thoughts and actions. Even completing the smallest tasks can be rewarding and this sense of self-accomplishment will help you once again find trust in yourself.

Take action. When it comes to rebuilding trust with others, the process can be much more challenging. Just as it took time to tear down the pillars of a relationship during addiction, it takes time to build them back up. That’s because trust can not be simply granted, but it must be earned. Furthermore, each individual needs their own time to go through this process, and you must be both mindful and respectful of this fact.

In order to rebuild trust with others, you must do so with actions. It can’t be gained from material things like gifts, or empty words and compliments. The old adage that actions speak louder than words continues to ring true.

Be impeccable with your word. Follow through on your word and show that you can be counted on. Maintain sincere honesty at all times by being open about your feelings and thoughts, both good and bad. Another part of the process is not making excuses for your past actions, instead own up your mistakes and commit to moving forward in a positive direction.

Set and maintain boundaries. Learn how to say “no” to things that no longer serve you. In active addiction, we often strive for perfection even though our lives are quite the opposite. We can become over-committal and feel a sense of shame when we are unable to “measure up” to unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others. Spend time getting to know what your limits are, practice self-care, and say “yes” to what serves your recovery.

Focus on what you can do today. Remember that recovery is a journey of rediscovering who you are and who you would like to be. Learning to trust yourself again and others is an important part of this process. By taking small steps forward one day at a time, others will see the effort you are willing to put into trusting yourself and will soon do the same.

Learning the tools to rebuild trust in recovery is a component of the Intimacy Recovery Program offered at Armour Addiction Services. For more information about our outpatient addiction recovery programs and services please visit our programs page here.