The answer to this question has more than just one answer because it involves more than just other people; it also involves you. Will you ever be able to trust yourself again? Maybe you have had multiple slips and relapses due to uncontrollable urges to use. Maybe friends and family have seen your multiple attempts and failures to stay in recovery.

Friends and family of addicts have told me they cannot imagine ever giving their complete trust to an addict no matter how long the addict has been in recovery. Others have said they could trust again but only after many years had gone by, and then they sometimes throw in, “but I wouldn’t be surprised if . . .”

Addicts themselves oftentimes are afraid to give complete trust to themselves because they know of people who have been in recovery for twenty years that have relapsed. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as addiction is never cured, and recovery cannot be taken for granted.

Feeling this way reminds us that addiction can be managed, arrested, handled, but never cured. This is the reality.

Then we have addicts who are certain they can stay in recovery, and those people must be warned about being cocky. Addiction is a strong and sneaky opponent. That is not to say many people cannot stay in recovery and feel confident, but I always advise to be on guard.

Addiction does not go away. Arrested, yes. Managed, sure. Cured, no.

Underestimating your opponent is a sure recipe for defeat, no matter the subject. Lots of respect has to be given to the strength of an opponent that never, ever, goes away.

This is why the famous slogans work. One day at a time. One mindful, cautious, conscious day at a time. No days off. No vacations from this opponent. Each day. Every day.

Mindfulness about your recovery for today and each and every day is mandatory. So is praying, day by day. Meetings, day by day. Sure it would be nice to think you can trust yourself, but be on your guard.

What matters is that you show by your actions and not your words that you can start to repair the trust of others and yourself even if that trust will never be 100 percent.

What matters is there is nothing more important than your sobriety. You cannot ask for trust in advance. You cannot expect trust to be freely given. Only you know how much harm, how many lies, how much broken trust lies behind you.

One truly heartbreaking relapse happened to an owner of a treatment center. Many years of recovery, many years of a wonderful success helping others, and she thought she could have “just a taste.” The effects on the patients could have been devastating because in the middle of treatment, the facility was shut down. Much to the credit and devotion of the therapists, they continued to see the patients in whatever new facility they went to. Some were in halfway houses and others in other treatment centers. The therapists continued without pay to tend to the patients. The heartache of seeing this wonderful, caring woman sink as low and as fast as she did brought tears to my eyes and was a major wake-up call about the strength of addiction. The latest information is that she has returned to treatment. It was said if it happened to her, it could happen to anyone. Words of truth, be careful, be aware.

Don’t dwell on past failures. No failure is a final failure unless you hoist the white flag and give up. Trust is precious, and in time, it can be built and rebuilt. It cannot be bought, begged, or borrowed. Just keep adding to trust day by day, week by week, year by year. Maybe in time, the admiration you feel from others and from yourself will be the foundation for a trust that can be lasting. Start building. Start now.