When dealing with substance abuse, it is difficult to be aware of your decisions and actions. Substance abuse causes people to behave erratically, such as lying, stealing, and manipulating. This not only harms the addicted individual, but it also impacts the lives of people they are close to. Because people struggling with substance use aren’t thinking straight when they are using, they don’t realize until later that they have hurt the ones they love. This can be difficult to deal with as they realize that they have lost the trust of individuals who were close to them. Family and friends are left in the aftermath of substance abuse and will feel let down, disappointed and hurt. Worst yet, the trust and respect that once was could be lost as well. Taking responsibility is one of the first steps towards recovery and an important step when coming to terms with your addiction.
Focus on Yourself
Before committing yourself to rebuilding trust and friendship that was lost due to addiction, be mindful of why you are on the path to recovery. The first thing to focus on is improving and being honest with yourself. Remember you are a priority and you need to stabilize your life first before making amends with friends and family. Work on improving yourself by taking up a new hobby, doing volunteer work, getting involved with the community, exercising, hiking, etc.
Starting a Dialogue
Rebuilding relationships in the aftermath of substance abuse will require a conversation with friends and family. This is a difficult task as emotional wounds can still be fresh, but this is an important first step in rebuilding trust. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share your feelings and emotions, as this will rebuild healthy interactions and relationships. Remember that communication is a way street so listen thoroughly to what they say and address any concerns. Be prepared for skepticism and resistance, but don’t let that dissuade you on your path towards recovery.
Patience is a virtue and it will be tested in the early stages. Trust is hard to earn and much harder to earn back from you people you hurt. You’ll be met with some resistance but don’t let this discourage you from your path. Don’t force them into trusting you or get upset that they don’t believe what you say right away. Depending on the level of hurt someone is feeling, they are going to need time and evidence that you mean what you say. Be aware that it will take some time to regain trust, as you must earn it.
Dependability & Consistency
Two traits that will be tested in the early stages will be dependability and consistency. Become dependable and consistent in your words and actions to help rebuild trust. You’ll need to demonstrate often to the people in your life that you mean what you say and you are doing what you are saying. As you work to rebuild trust, friends and loved ones will likely close observe your actions and words. Something as easy as following through with plans and doing what you say will speak volumes to them. Make an effort to be involved in outings and engage in meaningful conversations. People will appreciate that you are genuinely working on improving yourself and making a solid effort a to rebuild your relationships.
Support Groups, Counseling and Sponsors
It is important to continue making progress on your journey towards recovery and attend support groups. Rebuilding trust with loved ones is difficult and you’ll need the support of counselors, sponsors and others who are experiencing the same situations. Engage with your support groups and communicate what you are going through. Speak about the emotions you are experiencing and how they make you feel. You’ll be surprised to hear that others are experiencing similar situations.
Rebuilding trust takes some time as you are rebuilding the foundation of relationships. Remember to be honest with yourself and with those close to you. Honesty is the best policy when rebuilding and starting new relationships. This policy will build new and revived relationships on trust and respect. These are the most important building blocks for any healthy relationship and help you stay on your path towards recovery.