Essential Steps for Rebuilding Trust Inside Families

recovery relationships Aug 19, 2021

How do you rebuild trust after addiction has come in and destroyed your family? These are the foundational things that have to be there if you want to rebuild trust. I'll advise both sides-- the person that's addicted and the family. 

Believe it or not, this is a two-way distrustful situation. The person with the abuse problem feels like their trust has been broken too. That's the thing about addiction, it causes chaos, heartbreak, and no one comes out of it unscathed.

I'm going to tell you what you need to do as an addicted person first. This isn't going to be easy to hear or easy to implement. But it is necessary!

1. The first (most important) thing you need to do is OWN UP to the damage you've caused. When you cause distress to the people that you love, they need to hear that you understand the depth and magnitude of what kind of position you put them in. You have to be vulnerable about this. You made choices along the way that got you in this situation, right? It's time to own up to it and let your loved one's know that you acknowledge the mess you created. When you avoid this, you're going to build up resentment and bitterness, which causes shame and pity, then the cycle starts all over again.

2. Earn trust back by tolerating the fact that your family distrust you (with humility). What's going to happen even after you get sober is your family is still going to think that you're being dishonest or using. I know it sucks to be accused of something that you didn't do. So here's a way to handle that. You can say something like "I know you probably think I did that, but I didn't and I can understand where you're coming from after years of lying."

3. Get back on an even playing field by living your life with integrity. Everyone is going to be watching every move you make and dissecting what you do. You have to do what you say you're going to do. Be where you're going to be and earn that trust back. You're going to have to be ultra-transparent. 

For the family, here are the three things that you have to do to quickly build back the trust that was lost. 

1. You'll have to decide that you're going to give grace and give the person fresh ground to walk on. You can't keep bringing up the past over and over again because it causes your loved one to want to push you away and not be honest with you. 

2. You have to manage your own triggers. Yes, families have triggers, too! Get a handle on your emotions so that you don't start being reactive. 

3. Stay in your lane! In recovery, there's the concept of your side of the street and their side of the street. So that means, who they talk to, what they do and don't do, how they talk, It's still not your lane to manage. When you get out of your lane, you start boundary-crossing, trying to control and dictate. It causes your loved one in early recovery to resent you and feel like you're trying to control them. 

I know these are really hard changes because it goes against everything that feels right. If both sides can manage these three things, trust is going to come back so much faster and allow the healing process to begin. 

Amber Hollingsworth

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