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Rebuilding Trust in the Recovery Process

Important building blocks for a healthy recovery

One of the most common discussions I have with my clients is when they can start trusting their loved one again. Here are what some of the components look like in making that decision.

An enormous part of your loved ones' recovery process and progress is built around them starting to pull themselves up by their own boot straps. Making decisions, weighing options, thinking through possibilities and starting to re-build their life on their terms, their way all starts with repaving the road of trust.

The more your loved one can come up with their own game plan, the more confidence will be built in their personal recovery as well as their addiction recovery. The alcoholic/addict needs to reconnect with themselves, and start to trust their own core instincts for planning and developing a road map toward their goals. Even if you don't agree with the path they wish to take, or if ultimately it turns out to be the wrong one, let them be the lead Iditarod dog.

One of the first steps the recovering alcoholic/addict should commit to is starting to earn back the trust that was lost due to their addiction. Not only your trust, but the personal challenges in rebuilding their own trust for themselves.

I have created an acronym for what the family and friends of the alcoholic/addict should be experiencing as their loved ones' recovery process strengthens:

C.A.R. D.

Credibility = trustworthy
Accountability = answerable for
Responsibility = fulfilled obligation
Dependability = reliable

These character traits are obviously interchangeable and jointly represent that the alcoholic/addict is starting to become grounded and focused in recovery as well as life. These are actions of determination; impossible to carry out on a regular or continued basis if one is in their addiction.

Through the addiction process, an enormous amount of trust is broken. The collective "C.A.R.D." acronym means trust and when the credibility, accountability, responsibility and dependability become everyday occurrences, than trust can start to be restored again.

In working with alcoholic/addicts', I've never encountered a client who has said "yes" when asked if they deserved to be trusted while in their addiction or in the first few months of recovery. They too, realize that restoring trust takes time and if they are working on a solid, grounded recovery program, as well as enveloping life on life's terms that trust will slowly, but surely start to be restored among family members, friends, employers, and mates.

In their sober state, the alcoholic/addict can be reflective of what their irresponsible and out of control behavior was like and what they put others through because of their addiction.
In an odd way, they look forward to re-building that trust, for they want to prove to their loved ones as well as themselves that they are capable of being trusted once again. They genuinely want to be a good son, daughter, friend or spouse to the ones they love and are desirous of mending the past where their family and friends were once so tormented by their addiction.

It's important for family and friends to give this process a substantial amount of time; at least six months of responsible, accountable, behavior.
No excuses for anything other than normal, minor infractions. In my practice, I have often heard clients say that their son or daughter, husband or wife has been doing well, but this or that happened which wasn't their fault. They were unable to fulfill their promise or commitment because of someone else or circumstances out of their control.

If there is a legitimate issue where the bond of trust might be somewhat compromised then fine; but if not, start your own clock of trust over again and your loved one should do the same. There is nothing wrong with family or friends asking themselves periodically if their loved one is fulfilling the "C.A.R.D." program today.

In time, your loved one will hopefully find their stride, reconnect with society, and prove to everyone around them, but most importantly to themselves that they are restoring credible, accountable, responsible and dependable behavior through their clean and sober life style.
The recovering alcoholic/addict will revel in re-establishing that their word and actions is now their bond; that like respect, trust is earned...and today, on an accomplished path of recovery, trust is a shining crown worn proudly atop their head.

If I can be of service to you or your family, please e-mail me at and explore my new book Reclaim Your Life - You and the Alcoholic/Addict at

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