Rebuilding Trust After Addiction


You’re feeling pretty good about yourself after engaging in some of the hardest work of your life…your recovery from your addiction! But unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop for you just because you’ve completed your 30, 60 or 90-day program. As a result of your addictive behaviors, you’ve come to realize that there has been some serious damage done to the loving relationships in your life. Some of the most serious damage done is the loss of trust. Trust is foundation for every relationship and without trust, a relationship cannot exist and thrive the way God intends it to.

The “Initial Trust Foundation”

For the most part, every relationship starts off with the gift of trust at some level. Depending upon the relationship, the initial trust levels will vary, but it is on this “initial trust foundation” that we are afforded the opportunity to grow in our relationships as trust increases. When this trust foundation has been breached or broken, the relationship goes into a crisis. This crisis is also dependent upon the type of relationship. For example, trust lost at work may create the crisis of a lost job, but the loss of trust in a marriage may cause the crisis of a divorce. Both hurt, but the crisis in the more intimate relationship (marriage) will create greater and more painful consequences.

Does this mean that once trust is lost that it can never be regained again? No, not necessarily…but it will depend on some very important decisions made by both the “offender” of the trust…and the one on the hurt side of the broken trust…the “offended”.

Will You Do Whatever It Takes?

If you find yourself on the “offender” side of a broken trust relationship as a result of your addiction, and you are surrendered to do whatever it will take to lay a new “initial trust foundation” so that your broken relationship can have a fighting chance to be resurrected, restored and healed…then this article is for you! But be warned, the solutions suggested in this article are not for the half-hearted or double-minded who simply want everything to be the way they used to be and have everyone trust them like nothing ever happened. It will take lots of hard, persistent long-term effort on your part. So…if you are ready to begin…read on!

Requesting and Offering Forgiveness

Requesting and Offering Forgiveness

Before a relationship can move forward from any hurt or brokenness, forgiveness MUST be requested by the “offender” and given by the “offended”. The offended party must feel the sincerity of the request by the person seeking forgiveness at an emotional level. The one seeking forgiveness needs to be specific in every way possible as to how they have offended and why they want the forgiveness for the other.

While forgiveness may be given, that does not mean that reconciliation is automatic. When the offended person forgives the offender in the relationship…the offended person is allowing the offender to have the opportunity to rebuild trust. It is the responsibility of the offender alone to rebuild the trust, not the other way around. As the offended person begins to feel that the offender is trustworthy…reconciliation begins to happen. But before any relationship can experience reconciliation, forgiveness MUST be requested and given by both parties.

Surrender to Some Truths

Assuming that forgiveness has been requested and given, now the work of rebuilding trustworthiness begins. Before we start to do anything, we need to be completely surrendered to these truths:

  1. “I have NO TRUST, even though I feel trustworthy in my heart.”
  2. “Trust is given to me…I can’t demand it or take it.”
  3. “Trust is given to me in their timing…not mine.”
  4. “It may take a very long time before I get trust…and maybe never.”

The Work of “Giving Up Freedom”

Giving Up Freedom

Now that forgiveness has been requested and given and you’ve surrendered your spirit to some vital truths…the work of “giving up freedom” begins! While this may seem counter intuitive and confusing…even painful…the only way to begin rebuilding the trust is to give up our freedoms so that we can re-enter the relationship that we proclaim that we want so badly. Of course, the more intimate the relationship, the more freedoms must be surrendered.

So what are these freedoms I need to give up? Again, it depends upon the level of intimacy in the relationship, but for the sake of illustration, let’s look at a marital relationship.

Step One: Ask yourself, “If my spouse did to me what I did to him/her, what would I need from them to prove their trust worthiness?” Answer that questions honestly and then ratchet it up one or two more notches! Make a list of the things you would want and begin to implement them. If you would want your spouse to have a phone tracker…then you get a phone tracker. If you would want your spouse to justify any ATM and cash spending with receipts, then you keep and present all receipts. If you would want to test your spouse for drugs and alcohol every day, then you submit yourself to testing every day. If you would want a computer accountability program on your spouse’s computer, then put on your computer. The key is that these are freedoms that you surrender of your own free will…not freedoms that you are being “strong armed” in giving up by your spouse or loved one.

Step Two: Inform your spouse that you are surrendering these freedoms for however long it takes him or her to trust you again…and mean it! Let your spouse know that you are doing this because you love him/her and want to demonstrate your love through your trustworthiness to them and to prove that you really have changed. After you’ve shared your list of surrendered freedoms, if they request that you add something onto your list that will help them, add it with joy and gladness in your heart! Another opportunity to prove yourself!

Step Three: Be trustworthy, patient, and keep a humble attitude. You’re in this for the long haul. Remember that you created this issue, it’s up to you to do what you can to make it better. Results won’t come over night. Trust, once lost, doesn’t come back as quickly as it was lost. It takes time, consistency, patience, and the grace of God for trust to bear out its fruit in a broken relationship. What is that fruit…a restored and more intimate relationship with your loved one, God and regained freedoms…physically, emotionally and spiritually!

A Note of Caution

A Note of Caution

If you diligently follow these instructions and run this marathon with the Lord…and if by the grace of God your loved one presents back to you the gift of their trust…DO NOT MOCK IT! Because if you lose it again…chances are it will be gone forever!

May God bless you with an extra measure of His Spirit as trustworthiness thrives in your life!


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