Addiction can create a lot of damage.

Not only can substance use cause health issues, financial problems, and legal troubles, but it can also erase the trust a person shared with their family and friends. If you are in recovery, how can you begin to rebuild trust with your loved ones?

Showing Your C.A.R.D.s

A Psychology Today article, “Rebuilding Trust in the Recovery Process,” lists four requirements for recreating trust with loved ones:

Credibility – being trustworthy
Accountability – answering for behaviors
Responsibility – taking obligations seriously
Dependability – being reliable


Because it can take a long time and many attempts to attain prolonged sobriety, your loved ones might not trust that your recovery will last. Maybe you have talked enthusiastically about your new life but not shown that commitment with your actions. Even if your family desperately wants to believe you’ve changed, they may be afraid of having the rug pulled out from under them. In this case, be patient and let time offer the proof your loved ones need. The more time you spend committed to authentic recovery, the more trust you will build with family and friends.


Not only is it one of the 12 steps, but making amends is also one of the first things you can do to take responsibility for the emotional, financial, or physical harm you might have caused other people. More than simply apologizing, making amends involves trying to right the wrongs as best you can and taking steps to not repeat prior mistakes. Making amends to others also allows you to start to trust yourself again.


This is an easy one. When you fulfill your obligations and promises, your build trust. Your loved ones will gradually learn that you mean what you say and trust that you are using false promises to manipulate them.


Very similar to responsibility, dependability may look like attending recovery meetings regularly, being where you say you will be, coming through with money for the bills, or establishing and sticking to clear boundaries.

Practicing Patience

As genuine and heartfelt as your apologies may be, and as much as you attempt to fix the problems your addiction caused, it may still be awhile before your loved ones accept you with open arms. Forgiveness takes time. In fact, it can take a minimum of six months of making good daily choices for a person in recovery to rebuild trust with loved ones.

Getting Help Together

If you are struggling to rebuild trust with a spouse or family member, consider attending therapy together. A licensed counselor may be able to facilitate the conversations that need to happen in order for trust to begin to grow again. In addition, groups like Al-Anon offer support for loved ones of people in recovery, allowing them to connect with others who are also going through the healing process.

At Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, we offer family education programs to help families reconnect and learn to how to rebuild trust.

For more information about programs at Safe Harbor Recovery Center, Virginia drug and alcohol rehab center, contact us at (888) 932-2304. We are ready to help you make a new beginning.