Trust can be strained or broken by an addiction. Restoring the trust needed to rebuild relationships takes time. There are 5 steps a recovering addict and their loved ones can take to improve the process of building trust. The first steps in restoring trust are to 1) be honest and 2) have open, frequent communication as discussed in our earlier posting. In this article, we look at the next two steps - all parties should accept accountability and set clear and healthy boundaries.
Accountability: Accountability is important on many levels. The recovering person should ask loved ones to hold them accountable if a loved one sees the addict making unsafe or non-sober choices. By inviting others to hold them accountable, the recovering person increases their support and decreases the chances of relapse. Another way accountability is important is for the addict to accept and acknowledge how their use has affected other people - only then can they identify how relationships were impacted, accept appropriate responsibility for what has occurred and move forward in the relationship with a focus on restoring balance and trust.
Loved ones must understand that they cannot “make” someone stay sober. They can be supportive and can mention unsafe and non-sober choices, but ultimately the decision of sobriety is completely with the recovering addict. Loved ones should also examine and accept any areas where they may have positively and negatively impacted the relationship or are impacting it moving forward. By accepting responsibility for their own actions, and being accountable for these actions, loved ones can begin to move forward in their lives and relationships.
Healthy Boundaries: Setting and respecting another person’s rights and boundaries promotes and restores trust. A using addict’s judgment and thinking are impaired, so they frequently make poor decisions. Once sober, loved ones must understand that the recovering person is capable of making better choices and allow room for the recovering addict to begin to make choices and decisions. It can be tempting for loved ones to continue to make all decisions for the recovering person “for their own good”. This can send a hidden message that the recovering person is not capable of making good choices, which can undermine their self-esteem and disempower them. It is important for each person to make choices and take responsibility for the choices made. Parents of emerging adults must still make important decisions until their child has the maturity and sobriety to make reasonable decisions.
Family members may have trouble letting go of responsibility for the recovering person because they don’t want to be taken advantage of, or they remember how, things were in the past. As both the recovering addict and their loved ones move toward healing, the responsibilities and boundaries must change. By engaging in open and honest communication about what each person wants and what each person fears, setting new boundaries and allowing for greater independence will be easier.
By engaging in frequent, open communication, maintaining honesty, setting healthy boundaries and taking appropriate accountability and responsibility, trust will more quickly return to the relationship.
New Hope Recovery Center is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Chicago. We lovingly treat those addicted as well as their family and friends. We understand that addiction is truly a family disease and that everyone affected must receive the support and guidance needed to heal from its consequences. If you or someone you love has had their life negatively impacted by drugs or alcohol, please call us at 773-883-3916 or via email at email@example.com.
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