Rebuilding Trust in Recovery

Rebuilding Trust in Recovery

The recovery journey for those suffering from addiction is challenging. Part of the process is nurturing and healing our connections with people from before and during our addiction.

Why Is Trust Important? 

Trust is an integral factor in our health and well-being, regardless of our life events. Without trust, we can’t create a safe base from which to explore and learn about the world around us, and importantly, about ourselves. When you’re struggling with a substance use disorder, trust becomes an extremely challenging aspect of relationships. Often people trying to support the individual feel manipulated and lied to, and the individual may feel a sense of shame or guilt around mistruths. 

We need to put considerable work into healing these relationships, and the stronger the trust becomes, the more successful and sustainable the recovery process will become. 

For those in recovery, reconnecting with themselves and trusting their core instincts is crucial. One of the first steps is to focus on earning back the trust lost during their addiction. 

Which Relationships to Rebuild? 

The road to recovery is often one of the most challenging roads in a person’s life, and allowing anything negative at this point can hinder the process. Individuals in recovery should consider which relationships they want to maintain and put effort into healing and which relationships are ultimately causing them harm. 


Being mindful of the harm that comes from continuing destructive relationships with those who don’t prioritize your recovery is a really important part of this process. Placing your time and effort on those who care and trust that your recovery will be successful is the best use of your energy. 

How To Rebuild Trust

When you have discovered which relationships will be beneficial to your recovery, you can begin to think about how best to heal them. Every relationship is unique, and it will be different in every individual experience. Healing relationships that have become strained takes time, so expecting it to happen quickly will only set you up for disappointment. It’s important to consider the other person or people’s space, feelings, and time, as well as your own. 

Start by agreeing on some manageable and transparent goals. From there, you can create a plan together about how to achieve them. Jumping in too quickly can be counterproductive, so starting with a phone call once a week will reap better results than trying to spend hours in each other’s company. 

Nobody should feel forced by this process; everyone deserves the choice about whether they want to re-establish a relationship with someone who may have hurt them in the past. 


Steps For Rebuilding Trust in Recovery

Have Patience

Most importantly, recognize that rebuilding trust takes time. The addiction or substance abuse may have occurred over a long time, so it’s not realistic to believe trust will re-establish overnight. Your family members, friends, and colleagues have their own feelings to work through, so allow them this space and time. Naturally, you will want to fix things immediately to diminish painful feelings, but allowing time for healing will result in stronger relationships in the end.

Maintain Honesty

When you are attempting to repair trust in a relationship, maintaining honesty is crucial. Small lies may seem insignificant, but in this context, they can re-establish pain and memories of past dishonesty, so try to ensure you are truthful about all things, big and small. 

Be Transparent

Go a step further than telling the truth, offer up information and feelings to your friends and loved ones. If they feel that you are forthcoming with your emotions and experiences, they will re-establish trust in you more quickly without feeling they are pushing you for information. Up it to a level you feel happy with, and involve your loved ones in the process. Explaining the challenges, you are experiencing, sharing your techniques and strategies of coping, and involving them in problem-solving will help them feel secure in the relationship and your recovery.

Follow Through With Your Decisions

If you agree or say you will do something, do it! There is nothing that illustrates that you care about the relationship more than reliability. If your loved ones begin to feel that they can depend on you again, they will put equal effort into the process. 

Be Compassionate 

It may be clear that you are taking bold steps towards recovery, but your family members may need time to recognize and appreciate the changes you are making.

They are likely to be feeling concerned about the possibility of relapse or your health and well-being. Try to understand that your friends and family have to process their own feelings of acceptance and change too. They may do things you wish they wouldn’t do along the way but try to remember that they are ultimately striving for your health and happiness, too. 

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