During any substance abuse disorder it is almost inevitable that you will break the trust of those closest to you, and often the relationships that you care about the most will be left in pieces. The initial dishonesty and lies you resorted to, to keep your drug addiction a secret, often manifest into other areas of your life, and you may have found that your everyday activities became a tangled web of lies and secretiveness.
You may have stolen money or items to buy drugs, you may have lied to and cheated on your loved ones; this all leads to strain and damage on the relationships around you, and in some cases people may have given up on you completely when you were still in the depth of your addiction. The important thing to know, however, is that through addiction recovery you can learn how to win back the trust and support of the people that you hurt during your addiction episodes. And while some people may take longer than others to trust you again, the important thing is that they still love you and therefore the damage done to the relationship is not irreparable. Through hard work, honesty and determination you will be able to rebuild trust with your loved ones while you are in addiction recovery.
Tips for Repairing Relationships in Addiction Recovery
Even if you are in addiction recovery and no longer using drugs or alcohol, you may still be struggling with the social aspects of your life – and facing your broken relationships is not easy. You may feel like no one trusts you, that people are suspicious of you, and that they are just waiting for you to make another mistake. This can make you feel condemned and nervous/weak from the start, and this stigmatisation may put a lot of pressure on you. This type of stress is one of the leading causes or relapse, but do not let it get you down. Take steps to relieve the stress you are feeling, and know that there is always hope for you to rebuild trust with those closest to you. The following tips guide you on how to rebuild trust with your loved ones while you are in addiction recovery:
1. Remember that it takes time.
It is imperative to keep in mind that it is impossible to repair a relationship overnight, and this is particularly true if you have been in recovery more than once. Rebuilding trust can be a lengthy process that takes a lot of hard work, commitment and energy. You need to remember the amount of time that you spent lost in drug addiction and how you hurt those around you – and that the relationships that have been damaged are not going to be miraculously fixed. It is really important that you do not rush the process and put too much pressure on yourself or your loved ones to rebuild the trust before either of you are ready. Some relationships may be rebuilt in a few months, but most will likely take anywhere from 6 months to a year or more!
2. Decide on a plan of action.
Making amends is a crucial part of any addiction recovery programme. Once you are feeling more confident in your personal recovery, making amends and repairing relationships will be one of the first things that you will focus on. It is important that you work with a counsellor or professional on this, at least in the beginning, so that they can help you objectively identify the things that you said and did to hurt those you love. From that point forward, you must identify the people who you wish to rebuild trust with and devise a step-by-step action plan that will get you to your end goal. In some cases, you may want to speak to the person who you have hurt and get their opinion on how you can rectify the situation and make amends.
The process of rebuilding relationships in addiction recovery can be extremely hard, and the first step is generally the most difficult to deal with. The first and most important thing that you must do when trying to repair a relationship, is to open up and be honest about your actions in the past. You need to open up to your loved ones and let them know what you have stolen/taken and when you have lied or cheated – even if they did not know about some cases previously. Admitting faults or poor decisions is incredibly difficult for humans in general, but it is integral to gaining back trust. Confirmation, rather than suspicion of things you said or did, is a step in the right direction for your loved ones and it will be beneficial to both of you.
4. Try to make up for the damage and make amends.
There is a big difference between giving an apology and making amends. It is important to know the difference, and understand how to truly make things right with the person who you have hurt. In some cases, this may mean you have to buy or replace something that you stole or broke, but it could also be an expression of honesty and remorse, and doing something nice for, or spending time with the affected person of which you are truly trying to make amends.
5. Make a new vow of honesty and stick to it.
Not only is it of utmost importance to be honest about your past, you must also remember to be honest going forward from this point. Unfortunately, trust is much easier broken than built, and one lie in the future could undo all the work you’ve done rebuilding their trust in you.
In other words, prove yourself. It is important that you issue a new vow of honesty and dependency to your friends and family, as they need to hear from you that you have changed
and that you will not be repeating the mistakes of your past. It is even more imperative to make sure you stick to this new vow and show your loved ones on a daily basis that your words and actions reflect and justify the trust that they are placing back in you during this process.
In most cases of drug and alcohol abuse, a trail of damaged relationships is left in the user’s wake and friends and family are left hurt and distrustful of you. However, it is important for you to remember that there is a way to rebuild the trust of broken relationships in addiction recovery, and that despite your actions of the past – your friends and family still love you. Repairing relationships is not an easy task, and it is one that takes huge amounts of hard work and dedication, but the end results are truly worth it.
By acknowledging and repairing the hurt that you have put your loved ones through, you are also doing the same for yourself and your addiction recovery will truly be in full swing.