It's Going to Take Time: Rebuilding Trust

Many a newly sober person exclaims with surprise, "I'm sober and they still don't trust me!" Well, trust takes time, and the truth, if we look at it, is that we have made more than a few promises in the past to take control of our drinking or using. Good resolve is followed by a period of relative sobriety, followed by perhaps an even worse episode of relapse...Of course they are cynical!

Giving Them Time and Space to Heal

Usually, by the time we finally decide to do something about our drinking or using, the people who love us have been through the ringer due to our behaviors. If they are still hanging in there with us, they may really want us to get sober, but may also be afraid to trust that it is really going to happen.

We spent a lot of time breaking their trust. They spent a lot of time worrying about us. That behavior becomes a lifestyle of its own. It takes time and patience for the family to realize that we are serious this time, and for the family to recover from the past hurts. We cannot push the river, as they say. We have to let time and our actions heal the wounds and distrust.

Including Others

If they are interested, it may be helpful to provide them with information about our addiction and about our plan for recovery. Let them know that we really have a plan of action this time. If you are going to meetings, you can suggest that they go with you to open meetings or that they get involved with meetings for those living with the addicts or alcoholics. Tell them that you would like to work with them on our relationships, but be sure they understand that for a while, you may have to just focus on recovery. Also, you might suggest going to therapy together at some point.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The long and the short of it is that we must continue to work on our recovery and leave our loved ones to their own process of healing. If we continue to live a sober life and continue to work on becoming the person we were meant to be, eventually, our actions will convince them more than our promises ever could.


P. G. McGraw* is a 30+ year sober alcoholic, writer, blogger and "joyfully rebellious heretic and mystic." She enjoys learning about Eastern and indigenous religions and applying that knowledge to her spiritual recovery. A former attorney, McGraw has a certificate as a chemical dependency counselor assistant and has worked as a sponsor, helping many people in the recovery process over the years. "P.G. McGraw" is a pseudonym.