Restoring Credibility in the Community
Restoring one's credibility in the community will take time and patience. People in the recovering addict's community will want to see evidence that the changes are genuine and lasting. The only way this will happen is to consistently live a recovery lifestyle.
For the recovering addict, the first step in restoring public credibility is to work through any feelings of personal shame or embarrassment at having had an addiction. Although many in the community will be supportive, there will also be those who will not. Again, it is helpful to have a plan in advance as to how to deal with these unpleasant encounters.
In the beginning, the best method is to quietly go about the business of recovery. Restoring trust and respect through the modeling of a changed life is the one tried and true means of regaining credibility. Performing community service as a consequence of one's addiction may be required.
If so, do it well and with a positive attitude. Lies and deception may have built a reputation of being dishonest for the addict. As a recovering addict, honesty is always the best policy and the only way to turn the tide. Once a recovering addict is feeling more secure with his recovery, giving back to the community will demonstrate sincerity that things are different. It will also help the recovering addict to grow in self-respect.
Even though supportive people may graciously tell the recovering addict that he doesn't have to repay a debt, apologize for a wrong done to others, and so on, restoring credibility requires making amends. Making amends is a cornerstone of twelve-step programs for good reason. They can be a public demonstration that the recovering addict means business.
One may give back by helping other addicts in their recovery process. Work in educating the public on the dangers of addiction. If the recovering addict feels comfortable, being transparent about her own journey may help encourage others. Helping with community beautification projects, serving in one's place of worship, or volunteering to help in times of community crisis are only a few examples of how one can give back.
One might even seek public office, serve on the city council, or lobby to change laws related to addiction. A consistent life of honesty, integrity, and hard work is difficult to criticize. Credibility can be re-established, but it will take time.