Why It’s Okay for Family to Trust, But Verify

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Who Answers?

For any person new in recovery, it can feel like everyone expects you to mess up. If you get caught up at work and get home late, your wife asks you 30 questions about where you’ve been. When your mother walks in and sees orange juice in your hand, she grabs it and smells, thinking it must have vodka in it. While it’s frustrating, those new to recovery must understand that it’s hard for family and friends to automatically trust you.

You’ve hurt them too many times for them to assume it’s going to be okay just because you went to treatment.

Show, Don’t Tell

There are some things you can do to rebuild trust with friends and family. First, you must stop telling them to trust you and show them they can. Follow through with your word. Remain sober. Go to meetings. Be honest, open, and transparent. Over time, the people in your life will see that you’re taking recovery seriously and that you’re deserving of a second (or third or fourth) chance.

If you’re still unsure how to show your family that you’re trustworthy, here are some tips.

  • Apologize for your past wrongdoings, taking accountability for your actions
  • Attend treatment as scheduled
  • Invite your family to join you and your counselor for a family session
  • Attend meetings regularly
  • Ask your family and friends to come to open meetings with you
  • Be honest, even when it’s hard
  • Inform family where you’re going and who you’re with
  • If asked, be honest about where your money is going

Trust, But Verify

Although it can feel as though you’re being treated like a child, when family and friends follow a trust, but verify pattern, it’s good for you, especially in early recovery. It shows the people in your life care about you, about you getting better, and that they’re going to do what they can to ensure you’re not sneaking around.

It holds you accountable for your own actions, and makes you bring your A-game. After some time of you showing you can be trusted, and family verifying you’re doing what you said you were doing, your family and friends will begin to believe that you’re taking recovery seriously. Once that happens, chances are they’ll back off a little and give you some breathing room.

When your family does check up on you, remember not to get mad. It’s easy to feel like they’re not respecting you, but they’re doing it because they care and want to see you succeed, not because they want you to—or expect you too—fail.