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The importance of trust during recovery

By Tim Woodley

As a person enters recovery and treatment, their self-belief is often at an all-time low. This is very common; people who struggle with drug and alcohol misuse have difficulty learning to trust themselves again.

The ability to learn to trust others can be a similar battle. It’s important, of course - full faith in in the treatment process is vital to see a person through the struggles that lie between them and a sober drug-free life. Today we talk about the struggle of redeveloping trust during recovery, and how important it is in realising a substance-free life after a treatment programme ends.


Lack of trust: Where it begins

As is often the case, childhood traumas are a common cause for a lack of trust in adults, particularly those undergoing treatment for problematic drug and alcohol use and addiction. Traumatic events in a person’s younger years shape their adult life, and it’s a sad truth that many who develop addictions as adults experienced violation, abandonment and assault in some manner in their youth and formative years.

As adults, these form a pattern of behaviour in the person in a bid to defend them from it ever happening again. Trust makes a person vulnerable; a risk that someone who has been hurt by it before is reluctant to take. Particularly for those living with families, the hidden shame common to addiction can make it challenging to share feelings with strangers and new people.

You might also feel as though you aren’t worthy of trusting relationships through the false belief that you aren’t ‘good’ enough to be in a relationship. In the case of treatment, it’s common for people to feel they aren’t worthy of succeeding in recovery and realising a better life without substance abuse.


Learning trust through disclosure

Drug and alcohol treatment brings out a person’s inner thoughts and makes them known. Whether during group work or in private sessions, it’s normal for people going through treatment to be unwilling to share deeper parts of themselves and their feelings. 

Learning to self-disclose is vital. By revealing your motivations, feelings and thoughts, you bring into review and discussion the very things that draw you into the patterns of behaviour that reinforce and sustain addiction.

Building trust in drug and alcohol treatment and the professionals that provide it helps clients to deload. In time, the sharing of their personal moments of pain and joy, their strengths and their weaknesses and their current struggles becomes cathartic, helping them to process their addiction and better formulate plans to overcome and manage it.


Building trust through feedback

As a person proceeds through drug and alcohol treatment, such as in our Dayhab programme located in London, an important part of developing trust is through feedback. A regular fixture of both private and group sessions, the requesting and giving of feedback is an important aspect of building trust in a healthy manner.

As others in drug and alcohol treatment share with each other and the therapists responsible for their programme, bonds are formed that can help all involved recover from their past traumas and the damage inflicted by their drug and alcohol misuse. As the programme proceeds, these bonds become exceptionally important for their role in showing each person who they are and how they appear to others.


A recovered future

In time, trust can be rebuilt. Playing a vital role in treatment and sobriety and a drug-free life, the rebuilding of this aspect of your life will be an instrumental part of recovery. Drug and alcohol treatment is humbling; by becoming vulnerable in trusting others, clients emerge from the end of their programmes more mature and emotionally aware than they were before – two important benefits in the better substance-free life ahead of them.

We wish you well and hope you’ve found today’s article on trust helpful. If you need to chat, we’re right here. Contact us at no obligation by calling on 0208 191 8920 or by using our contact form.