When Trust Is Broken
Are you tired of the lies and empty promises?
I’m going to quit drinking Monday – I just need one more weekend.
I promise I will not buy any drugs with this money. I need to pay my rent.
The broken promises of a person with an addiction are hurtful and damage your trust. When trust is broken, it jeopardizes the relationship.
I’ll be there for the birthday party.
I wouldn’t miss his graduation for anything.
I’m going to get help tomorrow – I promise.
When your addicted loved one consistently breaks their promises, it’s easy to think they are taking advantage of you or being selfish. On some level they are. However, the larger truth is that what motivates this behavior is addiction: the physical dependence of the brain on the substance.
Understanding the Toll of Addiction
Addiction changes the functionality of the brain. The more a person uses or the longer they use, the more dependent they are. The brain craves the drug until it needs it for normal functioning. Without the drug, the brain cannot communicate properly, leading to withdrawal symptoms. Pain, irritability, and an intense need to use makes it very difficult for a person with an addiction to do anything else but find a way to use.
And so they lie. They skip corners. They do anything they can to get high. All of this happens as a component of the disease, a symptom of dependence. Your loved one needs help that they may not be able to get on their own.
When the dad doesn’t show up for the son’s graduation, that’s an indication the drug has become all-important to him physically and mentally. Though he may want to be there, his need for drugs or alcohol is overpowering.
The woman who borrows money from her mother–again–to pay the rent may be using that money to buy drugs or alcohol because her body is demanding it. She cannot see the risk of losing her home clearly or that her mother is sacrificing to provide those funds. Addiction blurs the lines of reality. It cripples relationships in its wake.
Recognize the Damage This Is Doing to You
It may sound like these are simply excuses for why substance users lie and don’t keep their promises. Yet they probably have less control over their lives than you realize. It doesn’t mean you have to keep buying into it, and it most certainly doesn’t mean you should keep opening the door to more pain for yourself.
In fact, one of the best ways to help a person with an addiction is by setting boundaries to limit their access to you, your emotions, or your support. Here are some key tips:
- Don’t trust them to do as they say even if they seem to be authentic and want to change. Recognize they may not do so even if they have good intentions right now.
- Create boundaries for yourself and your family. A person who is drunk or high isn’t welcome in your home. Make it clear you will not provide any additional money to them.
- Don’t make excuses any longer or try to hide the addiction. Be clear, open, and honest with yourself and your loved ones about what’s happening.
It is also important to protect yourself. In any relationship, there has to be trust. If you cannot trust your spouse, parent, or child, you have to stop putting yourself in the position of being let down. Broken promises can be heart-shattering, especially when they happen over and over again.
Consider working with a counselor. Because the damage from these empty promises can impact your self-confidence and mental health, it is worth reaching out to a family therapist for addiction.
What About Your Loved One?
What can you do to help your loved one? Put aside the lies and empty promises. Instead, sit down and have a frank conversation about the changes you are making for yourself and others in your home. Then, ask them to step into rehab. Many people can benefit from an individual or family consultation or recovery mentoring.
If your loved one isn’t willing or cannot see the problem, consider a drug and alcohol intervention. We can help you to arrange an intervention that will provide you and your loved one with the tools you need to begin the healing process. We work with you to provide a direct solution to the problem.
Treatment can give you hope. You can rebuild those relationships and even that trust. Until treatment happens, though, safeguard yourself and your mental health from the ongoing turmoil brought on by broken promises.