Trust is a fragile thing. With family, there’s a certain degree of it inherent in a relationship. You assume that because you raised or grew up with a person, all of your shared life experiences mean that you can trust them. In friendships and romantic relationships, trust is a thing that’s cultivated over time. When you truly trust someone, you feel that you can share things with them – your home, your hopes and fears, your heart, even more practical things like money or a car. When trust is broken, however, it can a take a long time to piece it back together. Sometimes, depending on the catalyst, it might be gone forever.
When it comes to addiction, people will do all sorts of things in an effort to procure drugs or as a result of having taken them. Your child might take money out of your wallet or steal items from your home to sell. Your spouse might take the money that had been set aside for the electric bill and spend it to get high. Your friend might borrow your car and crash it while intoxicated. Sometimes you can forgive a single instance of bad behavior, but unfortunately if someone doesn’t get help for their substance abuse, it’s likely to be just the beginning of a pattern. Often, you’re forced to cut ties with the addict before they can hurt you anymore.
So, what happens when someone goes through recovery and wants to make amends? It can be hard to forgive and forget, and even harder to trust that they won’t repeat their mistakes. They promise you that they’re clean and they just need a place to stay until they get on their feet, but you remember that time they drank so much they passed out with a lit cigarette in hand and almost burned your house down. They ask if you can drive them to meetings, but it’s hard not to think about the hundreds of dollars you shelled out to fix your car when they crashed it. How do you reconcile what might be a genuine attempt to atone with your desire for self-preservation?
First, you have to learn to trust yourself. If your instincts are usually right, go with them. If your gut says that your friend or loved one has really changed, consider giving them a chance. If you need to talk things out with someone, there are support groups for friends and family of people with addiction problems. If you do decide to let them back into your life, establish clear communication. Say, here are all the things you’ve done to me in the past, and here is what will happen if you do any of them again. At the same time, however, don’t be argumentative or go on the attack. They’ve been through a lot, too – possibly more than you could understand. If you need to, set boundaries. Tell the person that you’d be happy to help them look for work or chip in for a bus ticket, but you just aren’t sure if you can let them in fully so soon. Finally, remember that it takes time. You don’t have to forgive or trust someone all at once. They might have to prove through their actions that they’ve changed before you feel comfortable with them again.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.