How Do I Rebuild Broken Trust in Recovery?

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When you are actively struggling with substance misuse, your words and actions don't just have an impact on you – they have an impact on everyone around you. These words and actions can not only be incredibly painful, but they can take a major toll on people's mental health. Sometimes you don't realize the extent of the impact your actions have had and that they have led to broken trust. 

After getting sober, you must reflect back on the damage that has been caused. When you come to this understanding you may feel an incredible amount of guilt, sadness, and despair. You may worry that due to broken trust, you might not be able to salvage relationships. Perhaps you're worried that you may lose the people you care about the most. 

The good news is that even though substance misuse can lead to broken trust, it is possible to rebuild that trust in recovery. This is a process that can take time, patience, and a lot of humility. However, it can be done and you can restore the meaningful relationships in your life. 

How Do My Actions While Under the Influence Lead to Broken Trust?

There are a lot of ways that struggling with active substance misuse may lead to broken trust. Secrecy plays a major role in addiction. For example, you may have often found yourself sneaking around in order to obtain or use certain substances. You may have had to hide certain things from your loved ones. 

As is learned through the process of recovery, you can only hide things for so long before they come to light. Your loved ones may eventually find out about certain lies you've told or things that you've hidden from them. They may then begin to wonder what else you have kept from them. This can lead to broken trust and can keep them from wanting to believe you in the future. 

Broken trust can also come in the form of letting down those who you care about. This could be due to failing to keep up with personal or professional obligations. Maybe they have had to pick up the slack for you when you were unable to keep up with things yourself. Or perhaps they have suffered certain consequences because you didn't follow through with what was expected from you. 

It is also possible that you let someone you love down from an emotional standpoint. Maybe they were going through a challenging time and could have used you to get through it, but you were not emotionally available to be there for them. This can lead them to feel a sense of abandonment and they may have trouble learning to trust you again. Instead of turning to you, they may go to others for advice or security. 

Finally, another way that trust can be broken during recovery is from a financial standpoint. It can be expensive to continue to pay to engage in substance misuse, especially if it has also affected your employment or income. Perhaps, in the past, you've found yourself asking to borrow money or even taking it without telling them. This can certainly make it difficult for others to trust you again. 

How Can Family Therapy Help to Restore Broken Trust?

If you are only at the beginning of your recovery journey, you might not yet be at a place where you have a true understanding of what you did to cause others not to trust you. Before you can fix the problem at hand, you must first fully understand what damage has been caused. In order to do this, you must have an honest conversation with those whose trust you have broken. 

Discussing things that occurred in the past when you were still struggling with active substance use can bring up a lot of complex emotions. Some of your family members may be feeling a sense of anger or betrayal. They may be unwilling to let you back into your life or to have a productive conversation about how to move forward. Trying to force a conversation with them before they are ready can lead to major repercussions. 

It is common for tensions to run high as you attempt to navigate conversations about broken trust as a result of your substance misuse. This is often a result of hurt feelings and a lot of other complex emotions. In many cases, this will not be a productive conversation, and it may result in raised voices, shouting, interrupting one another, or saying hurtful things you don't really mean. This can do more harm than good. 

It is for these reasons that family therapy can be a very useful tool as you go about mending relationships. Family therapy provides a safe and controlled environment where everyone has the opportunity to speak. A therapist will guide the conversation to make sure that it is productive and goes in the right direction. This can help ensure everyone is on the same page.

Family therapy can also help to promote a sense of perspective so that all parties can begin to see the situation from the other's point of view. This can help promote healing and understanding. Most importantly, through family therapy, you can work to identify the problems within your relationships. You can also determine what the necessary steps are to take moving forward. 

How Do I Begin the Process of Rebuilding Broken Trust?

The very first thing, and the most important thing, that you can do to begin the process of rebuilding broken trust is to begin your recovery journey. By getting sober and putting in the work, you are showing others that you are taking things seriously and want to make up for the harm you've caused. This includes not just ceasing your use of drug or alcohol use but taking the steps to address any mental health issues you may be dealing with as well. Mental health and recovery go hand in hand and you cannot address one without addressing the other. 

The first step of recovery is reaching out for professional help. You may feel like you can do this on your own, but support is so important when it comes to this process. By seeking professional help, you're not only going to be more likely to enjoy long-lasting recovery, but the process is going to be more pleasant. Trained professionals can walk you through each step of the way and answer any questions you may have. 

When you first reach out for substance misuse treatment, you're going to sit down with a counselor who will ask you specific questions about your unique situation. They will then likely perform a mental and physical examination and help you to determine what treatment program is the right fit for you. The next step will be to go through the detox process. This process can be done through either inpatient or outpatient treatment, depending on your specific needs. 

At Pathways Recovery Center, we offer a residential treatment center setting. This means that you would come and stay full-time at our facility for the duration of your initial treatment. You will be under constant medical supervision in case an emergency situation may arise. Our team will also be able to help treat any withdrawal side effects that you may be experiencing, keeping you as comfortable as possible.

After you have completed your initial treatment and are ready to be discharged to go back home, you'll still have continued treatment. This will typically include attending meetings with a therapist as you continue to heal and grow as an individual. You will likely also attend 12-Step support group meetings on a regular basis. In many cases, this will include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). 

How Do I Continue the Process of Rebuilding Broken Trust in Recovery?

In order to continue the process of rebuilding broken trust in recovery, you must be sure to remain dedicated to your treatment. You may feel like you're totally in control of your recovery. However, what will happen when certain obstacles, stresses, or hardships may come your way? They could threaten your recovery, which is why keeping up with treatment is so important. 

When the time is right, consider sharing your progress with those with whom you're trying to rebuild trust. Let them know what specific steps you've taken to better yourself and how you plan to continue moving forward. Show them that you are committed and taking this journey seriously. As you continue to do this, the more likely they will be to begin to consider trusting you again.

The next part of this process also includes making amends and righting past wrongs. Asking those you have hurt for forgiveness is an important step. But this alone is not enough to make up for past mistakes. You have to take specific steps to make up for any damage you caused. 

For example, consider if you were to not be paying attention and accidentally rear-ended a car in front of you. You can apologize to the driver and earn their forgiveness. However, the damage to the car will still be there even after your apology. Thus, you will have to take responsibility by paying to have it repaired. 

Consider what amends you may need to make in recovery. Perhaps you need to replace damaged property or pay back the money you borrowed or took. Maybe you need to start picking up the slack at home or at work in order to give others a break. All of these things will help to prove that you want to make things right and aren't going to give up.

Why Is It Important to Be Patient While Rebuilding Broken Trust?

When you're working hard and feel as if you've done all you can to earn back broken trust, it can feel discouraging when others aren't as willing to let you in as you had hoped. Maybe there are still boundaries that you have to work to get past. Perhaps they may still bring up aspects of your past that you have tried to move on from. It is during this time that it is important that you continue to be patient. 

Remember that as your own healing took time, so will other people's. Everyone's timeline as far as healing and forgiveness is different. It is important that you give your loved one's grace and don't try to force them to trust you again before they are ready. This can do more harm than good. 

If they tell you that they need space, make sure to give it to them. They may need time to process not only the things that have happened but your apology to them. When they've had this time to process, they may be in a better place to forgive you and trust you once again. 

Why Is It Important to Be Humble While Rebuilding Broken Trust?

Just as it is important to be patient while trying to rebuild broken trust, it is also important to be humble. Don't try and fault others for feeling a certain way or for not forgiving you as fast as you would like. Remember to take accountability for your words and actions that led to the broken trust. Consider how you would feel if you were in their position. 

You also don't want to try to blame alcohol or drugs for mistakes you may have made in the past. While they contributed to what happened, you must still own up to decisions that were made while you were under the influence. Trying to blame outside factors may cause those around you to feel as if you're not really serious about being sorry. It can also cause it to look as if you're not truly holding yourself accountable as you go about making amends. 

Navigating the process of rebuilding broken trust in recovery can be a difficult and delicate process. Having professional outside help to guide you can make a major difference. Consider reaching out to our team at Pathways Recovery Center to learn some tips as you go through this journey. 

How Can Choosing to Give Back to the Community Help in the Process of Rebuilding Broken Trust?

Giving back to others is not only great for your mental health, but it can play a very beneficial role in your recovery journey. It can also be a way for you to show others that you're taking your recovery seriously and want to make a positive difference in the world. This can be a great way to continue to restore the trust that was broken with those you love. 

Consider what causes you are passionate about. If you've been in recovery for a while, you may consider being a sponsor to someone who is just starting out. This is a great way to make a positive difference in someone's life. It is also a great way for you to remind yourself once more why you made the decision to get sober in the first place. This process can motivate you and help you to recommit to your recovery even stronger. 

There are a lot of other ways you can also choose to give back to others in recovery. If you're passionate about animals, you may consider volunteering or donating to an animal shelter. Or, if you're passionate about helping youth, you could volunteer for an after-school program or work as a tutor or mentor. We all have certain gifts that we can use to help make the world a better place – what are yours? 

Giving back to those less privileged than us can really shift our whole perspective on life. All of a sudden the trials and tribulations you may be dealing with in your own life may seem far less important. You may begin to realize how good you have it., which can foster a sense of gratitude in your life. 

Building back trust in recovery can be a difficult process, but it is worth it. Don't give up, but rather continue to put in the hard work and patience as you navigate this process. The first step of this process is to seek out professional help and get sober. If you're ready to take this next big step in your life, don't wait. Give us a call at Pathways Recovery Center today. We offer a residential treatment program where you will be treated with the dignity and respect you deserve as you begin to heal. Reach out to us at (888) 771-0966 today and a member of our team will talk to you about our services. 

Clinically reviewed by 

Moses Nasser
Dr. Moses Nasser, a double board-certified physician in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine, with expertise in holistic healing, addiction medicine, and psychiatric care, holds an X-waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and has extensive experience in mindfulness-based customer service and medication-assisted treatment.

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