Expert Corner: How Do You Regain Trust After Addiction?

Expert Corner QuestionMy brother won’t believe I’m clean. I haven’t used in over six months. I’m on Suboxone maintenance and back at college, where I aced my first semester. I understand that my brother has seen me high like so many times, but he hasn’t seen me use since Christmas. I don’t understand this. I only ever go out of the house with him! It feels pretty sh*tty. I’m not like pushing hard to convince him, I want him to have some trust in me. He said that even if I said I was clean for the next 10 years he still wouldn’t trust it. My pupils have been a little pinned from the Suboxone and I have a habit of picking at my nose – but I’ve done that forever. I got itchy, but it was from the knee pads I was wearing to play pickup hockey. This breaks my heart because we’ve been so close. How do I convince him I’m clean? He says then if I don’t admit to using, then there will be a wedge between us, but I can’t cop to something I’m not doing. This situation is f*cked up. What can I do?

Elevate Expert Answer

First of all, congratulations on doing well in college and getting your life on track. It’s a little unclear from your question if you and your brother live together or if you just go out together often.

Regardless, I get that you are upset about his lack of trust but he is entitled to his feelings. Without knowing too much background, I’m assuming you were struggling with substances for some time prior to the last 6 months. Addiction can cause people to do and say things they would normally never do. Perhaps that happened (it’s certainly possible). During the time you were struggling, your brother obviously felt betrayed and lost trust in you. I’m not sure exactly what caused that, but it doesn’t matter. Something is there for him that is keeping a wall up.

My advice would be to ask him what you can do to earn his trust back, aside from not using drugs. Perhaps he wants you to tell him the truth about your past. Maybe he wants to know the times you weren’t honest with him so he can sort out for himself what was real and what wasn’t. Or maybe he wants to hear that you are sorry for something you did. There could be any number of things.

He also may simply just want to see more time pass by before he starts to trust you again. I’d imagine he’s been hurt. Sometimes it’s easier to keep the wall up for a while than risk being hurt again. But he has that right and you need to respect his feelings as much as you are asking him to respect yours.

Keep in mind too that some people have the opinion that you aren’t really clean if you’re on Suboxone, and he may have that idea. So, you should ask him about it. I’d have to think that if you’re doing better now than before, he should be able to recognize that. But he may be thinking you’re only halfway there. Let him tell you how he feels.

Ultimately, open and honest communication is the best thing for your relationship. Be willing for him to tell you things you may not want to hear, but simply try to understand where he is coming from. The first conversation might be tough, but I guarantee the second one will be better because you’ll know where he is coming from and you can do something about it.

2 thoughts on “Expert Corner: How Do You Regain Trust After Addiction?”
  1. Addictions can fundamentally alter relationships, even when the addict is clean. It may be helpful to look for support and love from others while you work to adjust to your new relationship with your brother. Thanks for sharing, and good luck!

  2. People always say honesty is the best policy, and when it comes to substance abuse, it’s no exception. Being honest with your loved one will lead to more open discussions, and help you more in the long run. Thanks for sharing!

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