How To Build Trust Again After Addiction

Posted by | Relapse Prevention, Treatment Programs | March 16, 2015

Addiction is a scary time for many people. Even though there are some highs here and there from using, there is often plenty of fear. There’s fear about relationships, fear of losing those relationships, fear about whether others will find out about your addiction, fear about what others will think if they found out, fear around knowing you need to stop and not knowing how, and much more. There are many sources of fear that grow out of an addiction, but also fears that feed the addiction too. You don’t know what else to do and so you continue to use – it’s an escape.

However, the emotional cycle of using continues to undermine trust. It seems that you can’t trust yourself. You can’t trust others, and you can’t even trust the world. This is especially true if you’ve experienced some sort of trauma in life. A deep trust in the world prior to trauma can easily turn into distrust of other people, life circumstances, and even oneself. This can be especially true if trauma repeats itself, such as witnessing death in war or ongoing sexual abuse by a family member. Repeated trauma can cause a worsening of anxiety, feeling a constant high level of alert and paranoia.

In fact, there is a high amount of individuals addicted to substances who have also experienced trauma. In fact, the diagnosis of both posttraumatic stress disorder (an illness that can sometimes develop after experiencing a traumatic event) and addiction are more common than one might think. The rate of posttraumatic stress disorder among those who also experience addiction is 12-34%. For women, this dual-diagnosis is 30-59%. For those who have experience trauma in life, trust is also a significant factor in the development and continued growth of addiction.

For all these reasons, it’s important to rebuild trust. It’s necessary, after you’ve stopped using and you’re attempting to recover your life, to feel a sense of trusting yourself, others, and the world. These are basic needs to feel safe, secure, and happy.

The following is a list of steps you can take to help rebuild trust.

Trusting Yourself – Of course, developing trust takes time. However, one of the greatest ways to rebuild trust is through connection. You can begin to trust yourself again by connecting with yourself. It might be difficult at first, but see if you can find some alone time. Write, journal, paint, and take long walks alone in nature. These are ways to rebuild a relationship with yourself so that you can heal, grow, and return to loving yourself.

Trusting Others – Like the suggestions made above, building trust between you and others requires deepening the connection you have with them. For instance, if there was betrayal, trauma, abuse in your family’s history, then it’s likely that the trust between you and your family members would have been compromised. Yet, you might begin with one person. Choose one person with whom you might be able to develop trust with. Let your relationship build slowly. Let it grow, and as it does, then choose others to deepen your connection and trust with.

Trusting the World – This sort of trust is a primal one, and it’s going to take some time. However, as you are in recovery, and as your life begins to change, you might find that this will grow naturally. For instance, perhaps during an addiction, life was chaotic. There was little to rely on, and perhaps your basic needs were rarely getting met. Yet, as you find stability through housing, employment, connections with others who are also in recovery, you might feel like the world is coming together for you. Your growth in recovery can facilitate trust in the world.

Certainly trust is not easy to build. As already mentioned, it’s going to take time. It’s going to take patience and acceptance. But little by little, with the right kind of connections, and as more and more people welcome you with their open arms, you might feel a sense of trust again.

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