Trying to have a relationship with a recovering addict? Family and friends closest to an addict are often most hurt by the constant betrayal resulting from being the target for resources to continue using. It is true the people we hurt the most are the ones we love.
Here are 3 keys to developing a trusting relationship with an addict.
1. Trust is not a blank check
It is not reasonable for a recovering addict to expect trust to be turned on like a light switch because they have entered rehab or started attending meetings. Trust when broke even once becomes fragile when restored. Take into account the many times trust has been restored only to be broken again.
It is easier to just give up instead of rebuilding a trusting relationship. It is NOT impossible to rebuild. Take into account the addict is eager to be trusted. It is much more difficult for you to trust because of the hurt from being let down.
It is appropriate to make decisions about how much and to what extend you can trust, based on behaviors you can observe. Yes, this means you do not just start trusting one day based solely on what you are told.
There are things we trust even about an addict who is still using. ADDICTS USE. This is something we trust more than they do not use. What we can know from this is behaviors observed are behaviors we can believe.
2. Trust in what you know to be true
To establish trust with an addict you need to be able to have behaviors you know to be true. An example, giving account of where money is spent was not a part of an addict’s typical behavior. A great step is to have a set amount of money per week and give account of what is spent by providing receipts for purchases.
The allowance idea gives opportunity to provide proof of positive behaviors. Receipts give ongoing evidence of staying on track.
The point here is simple. If there is a concrete behavior you can point to for evidence of a healthy recovery behavior, it becomes easier to trust. Accountability is not easy for an addict but it is essential.
Trust takes consistency over time
A big problem with building trust with an addict is the idea of getting past the hurts from the past. The addict wants you to get over it NOW. It is not that simple. You need to see consistent behavior over time. It becomes the measure of what can actually be trusted.
There are things we know and trust about people because it is consistent in their behavior. It could be said we trust everyone to some extent. The things we trust are not always positive. We trust someone to gossip, another to keep a secret. These are trusting relationships based on repeated and consistent behavior.
The best thing an addict can give you is consistent behavior over time. It takes time, but more than time, it takes repeated clean and sober behaviors to build trust. Even though it may be difficult to rebuild what has been broken so many times these 3 keys can help in trusting an addict again.
Written by Wendell Montney