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Vulnerability and Trust in Addiction Recovery

Written By: Harris House

Category: Blog, Psychological, Recovery

Vulnerability and rebuilding trust

Trust is not unrecoverable, but it is a process.

For many people struggling with addiction, vulnerability is the first step on the journey to recovery, but it can’t exist without something else: trust. And the truth is, that as the flip side of vulnerability, trust may be even harder for people battling addiction–not to mention the people who love them. Here’s a closer look at the essential roles vulnerability and trust plays in addiction recovery.

On Vulnerability

It’s easy to think of vulnerability as a weakness. After all, its very definition implies as much: “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded/open to attack or damage.” However, in her popular TED Talk, “The Power of Vulnerability,” Brené Brown frames vulnerability differently. It is, she says “the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

On Trusting Themselves

According to an article in the academic journal Frontiers,

“The majority of scientists agree that trust is a necessary ingredient for almost all functioning human interactions, from love and friendship to economic prosperity and the emergence of large-scale organizations.”

Unfortunately, many addicts have lost trust–both in themselves and from others–resulting not only in the loss of fulfilling relationships but also triggering a harmful cycle of letdown and loss.

It follows that regaining trust is an inherent part of the recovery process.

Echoes substance abuse counselor, activist, and author of the book Reclaim Your Life: You and the Alcoholic/Addict, Carole Bennett, MA, in a Huffington Post piece,

“An enormous part of your loved one’s recovery process and progress is built around them starting to pull themselves up by their own boot straps. Making decisions, weighing options, thinking through possibilities and starting to rebuild their life on their terms all start with repaving the road of trust.”

And just as lack of trust can be a negative cycle, so can rebuilding trust become a positive one. Bennett continues, “The more your loved one can come up with their own game plan, the more confidence they’ll build in their addiction recovery. The alcoholic/addict needs to reconnect with him or herself, and start to trust their own core instincts for planning and developing a road map toward their goals.”

On Trust with Others

But learning to trust themselves is only part of an addict’s journey. An equally vital step? Earning trust that was lost as a consequence of addiction. Addicts accept that this is a tall order in the initial months of recovery. Bennett explains,

“They too realize that restoring trust takes time, and if they are working on a solid, grounded recovery program, as well as enveloping life on life’s terms, that trust will slowly but surely start to be restored among family members, friends, employers and mates.”

But they’re also eager to take the step for one simple reason, says Bennett:

“They genuinely want to be a good son, daughter, friend or spouse to the ones they love and are desirous of mending the past when their family and friends were tormented by their addiction.”

This process can’t be rushed, and patience is an integral part of it for all parties. Also important? Reinforcing responsibility and accountability every step of the way. Says Bennett,

“The recovering alcoholic/addict will revel in re-establishing that their words and actions are now their bonds; that like respect, trust is earned, and today, on an accomplished path of recovery, trust is a shining, invisible crown worn proudly atop their heads.”

In order for people to eschew denial, be honest with themselves, ask for help, and accept that help, they must first embrace the powerful combination of vulnerability and trust.

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Contact us at Harris House today to learn more about how our inpatient and outpatient programs support the different stages of the recovery process toward overcoming dependency.

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