Reestablishing Trust When It Has Been Damaged by Addiction

by

I work with clients between the ages of 18 and 26, most of whom are living at home with their parents. It can be hard living with your parents when you are an adult. It is especially hard if there is no trust between you and you parents. Reestablishing trust is key to mending that relationship.

The Challenge of Reestablishing Trust

Sadly, this situation is all too common because the lies that are an inevitable part of active addiction damage the trust in a relationship. It can be frustrating to fall asleep on the couch after a long day of work and be accused of being high, or to be sick with a cold and be accused of going through withdrawal. Ultimately your parents have a right to be concerned, and even suspicious. They’ve been lied to so many times during your active addiction.

However, there are a few things you can do to help with reestablishing trust with your parents.

  1. Show that you are serious about your sobriety: enrolling in therapy, attending support groups, scheduling an appointment for anti-craving medications—all of these actions will show that you are serious about putting drugs and alcohol behind you.
  2. Allow your family to be involved in your treatment: whenever clients refuse to allow their parents to be involved in their treatment, it instantly raises red flags. A client who is serious about getting sober knows their best chance of success is when all members of their support system are communicating.
  3. Suggest your family attend a support group: in groups like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, other families who are further along in this process can help your parents understand what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to a lack of trust in the relationship.
  4. Be reliable: if you say you are going to be home at 9 p.m., be home at 9 p.m.. If you say you are going to take out the trash that night, then do it. It’s as simple as that.
  5. Be empathetic: becoming defensive will only make matters worse. Try to understand where your parents’ worry is coming from and calmly have a conversation with them until the conflict is worked out.
  6. Be patient: understand that reestablishing trust takes time. Even with all of the suggestions above, healing your relationship with your parents will not happen overnight.

If you are still struggling with reestablishing trust in your family, consider scheduling a family counseling session with your parents.

Shaylyn Forte, M.Ed., CAADC