Building Trust in Recovery 

 December 18, 2020

By  Alan Oviatt

When it comes to recovery, trust is an ongoing subject of concern. It is especially significant for those who are spiritually bankrupt, broken, and without hope. For those grappling with substance abuse, the recovery process is complicated. Frequently, relationships with family, friends, and loved ones have become strained, seemingly beyond repair due to their addiction. The alcoholic, for example, has played the victim and has become the master of using others’ trust to his advantage through manipulation.

Symbol of trust

What is Trust?

The substance abuser complains about not having it, not being deserving of having it, and not giving it. Still, no one wants to be trusted more than the recovering substance abuser. 

Trust is the belief that someone has your back, can be relied upon, or is right and honest. Others look to our behaviors and actions to determine if they cant trust us. There are elements of selflessness, compromise, and great discipline in establishing trust. Mutual trust is the foundation of healthy relationships. If you were to say you trust someone, ask yourself if you listen to that person? Do you follow this person's advice or direction? How is trust earned? What does trust do for a person's character?

At Access Foundation, the recovery residence is a place of confidence where residents depend upon the environment without fear or misgiving and believe in one another. A place where rebuilding trust takes root and grows. It is a lengthy process. It typically takes a year or two to gain some level of trust back. For some relationships, it can take a lifetime.

A Mutual Relationship

We do not mean to suggest that the process is one-sided. The healing process has to happen. There are countless stories of parents that continue to shame their sons and daughters. It is important to remember that emotionally beating down those in recovery and refusing to forgive them is detrimental no matter how well they may appear to be doing. Trust is a mutual relationship; it cannot be one-sided.

Behaviors in the house are where trust begins. For example, the resident checks at appointed times or shows up to house meetings on time. They no longer ask for more tolerance when rent is due. They do their chores and share house maintenance labor. Then something strange happens; you find them helping a neighbor, raking their leaves, or putting up the Christmas lights.

If this is happening in the house, it could be happening elsewhere. And as the resident's family or other loved ones see what is happening, they begin, with caution, to let their guard down—an emotional turning point for the rebirth of a trusting relationship. Faith is renewed, and light appears in the darkness.


This is just an example of the form "trust-building" can take within the Stable Environment Model of recovery. It begins in the place of safety where the resident is allowed to be himself, without judgment, in the presence of others with the same goal.

Have faith, trust the process, and buckle up - change is in the air.

About the author

Alan has an MBA and is the co-founder of Access Foundation. He has been a content writer for the recovery industry for the past eight years.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}