You finally did it – you made it through rehab without incident and now you’re on your way to a clean and sober life.
But if you’re like most recovering addicts, you’re probably stepping back into the real world with a bucket load of tattered relationships and broken trust.
So, how do you rebuild trust with the people you love now that you’re finally sober?
The 13 secrets below will help put you on the right path and show you how to save the relationships that mean the most to you.
1. Take Responsibility for Your Actions
This is number one for a reason. In order to build back the trust you lost while using, you need to first acknowledge the pain you caused.
Don’t qualify them with an excuse of intoxication. Don’t wrap it up with extenuating circumstances. Your actions are your own and the sooner you can take responsibility for them, the sooner you can mend your relationship.
2. Prioritize Staying Sober
Your continued sobriety should be a major priority right now. Now that you’ve finally kicked the habit, relapsing is a surefire way of burning any bridges you may have been trying to rebuild.
Read recovery literature, stay in contact with your support system, attend regular twelve step meetings. But more than anything else, don’t fall back into old habits.
3. You Can’t Force Trust
Rebuilding trust can be a long process. It takes time. It takes patience. And if you want to save the relationships your addiction put in jeopardy, then you have to realize that your loved one will begin to trust you on their own terms.
They make the choice to do so, not you.
So be sure to give them the time and space they need. And remember, this is hard for them too.
4. Don’t Make Empty Promises
I’ll never ever use again. I’m a completely different person. I’ll do anything to win you back.
These blanket statements have a tendency to fall on deaf ears, especially when you’ve hurt them over and over again.
Instead of trying to convince them of your trustworthiness with words, demonstrate it with actions.
5. Tell the Truth (Obviously)
As the Big Book says, a life of rigorous honesty is key to walking the path of sobriety. And while you certainly need to start with being honest with yourself, building up trust in relationships takes the same dedication to truth.
Every single lie you tell, no matter how small, is building a case against you. And though being completely honest with another person can be hard at first, you’ll soon realize how much your lies were actually weighing you down.
6. Communication is Key
Keeping in line with the last tip, learning how to properly communicate is crucial to a healthy relationship. In fact, lack of communication is frequently cited as being one of the top reasons for failing partnerships.
Learn how to categorize and identify your emotions by name. Think before you speak. Try to consider a different point of view.
The better able you are to communicate how you’re feeling, the stronger the foundation of your relationship will be.
7. Be Realistic
This one is big – keep your expectations reasonable. Maintaining any relationship at all with a substance abuser can be incredibly hard and your past actions may have cut deeper than you realize.
Don’t expect them to embrace you with open arms within a few days. In fact, it could take months or even years to fully win back their trust. But remember, you’re on their terms, not the other way around.
8. Help Them Understand
Sometimes giving your loved one more insight into what you experienced can open them up to trusting you again. Maybe they don’t understand the nature of addiction or how much of a toll it actually takes on a person.
Ask them to attend a meeting with you. Play them a few addiction songs for perspective. Give them some addiction literature.
And while your pain certainly shouldn’t be the entire focus, a little bit of understanding can go a long way.
9. Forgive Yourself
As most recovering addicts know, one of the biggest struggles in recovery is forgiving yourself for your past actions. But without forgiveness, there can be no progress.
There are a variety of techniques to help you deal with your own negative self-talk. Practicing mindfulness, for example, can help you identify when that deprecating voice chimes in and can help you start to ignore it.
10. Start Seeing Things from Their Perspective
Substance abuse doesn’t just affect the addicted. Instead, it’s a toxic disorder that can hurt everyone around you as well.
As such, your loved one will probably hold feelings of resentment towards you. It’s natural. And if you can understand that fact, you’ll be one step closer to mending the relationship.
11. Don’t Get Defensive
Keeping in line with the last tip, keep your cool when bringing up tough memories. Talking about the pain and acknowledging your actions for what they were is part of the healing process for your loved one.
And if you react with anger and rage, it might communicate that you don’t actually regret that they happened at all.
12. Be Brave
Don’t wait for them to get in touch with you. You’re the party at fault here. And that means it rests on your shoulders to start the healing process.
Plus, doing so shows that you actually want to save the relationship – a crucial point to communicate.
13. Get Better for Yourself, and for Them
And finally, one of the best things you can do for rebuilding a broken relationship is become a better version of yourself. And that means getting sober.
So try to mend fences with your loved ones but don’t forget to take the time to prioritize your own recovery. Studies have found that 40 to 60% of former addicts end up relapsing so focusing on yourself during this vulnerable stage is incredibly important.
One secret definitely worth repeating!
The 13 Secrets for Winning Back Trust
Losing the trust of someone you care about can be incredibly painful. What’s more, once you’ve lost it, you may never be able to get it back.
But if your relationship is worth fighting for then following these 13 secrets for winning back their trust are sure to help you along the way.