I get this question all the time, and so, after having written numerous personal responses, I thought I would take a swing at a post on this, end return to the series I've been working on.
So, can you trust an addict? Will he/she keep his/her promises? Will he/she recover so that we can get on with what we/I want to do and I don't have to worry about this?
I have a question: what planet are you living on? People are not perfect, and your addict certainly never will be (neither are you or your plans for that matter). If he/she offers you any guarantees, then he/she is lying. Most often not intentionally, but you have to remember something: an addict is someone who has lost control not only over his/her willpower, but over the truth itself.
The disease of addiction so distorts the perception of reality in the 'active addict' that his/her world looks very little like what you and I see. When you shout, "Tell me the truth!" is is kind of like handing a cat a bottle of mustard and saying, "Here, open this!" Cats have no ability to open a bottle of mustard, nor do they even enjoy it. The same is true of the addict.
Do you trust your friends to tell the truth? Then you are a fool, because everyone lies. Everyone will disappoint us and betray our 'trust' because trust is a form of dependency on others that simply isn't fair. We fail, they will fail. There is a probability of failure, but we should always assume that people are going to lie and cheat because that's what fallen humans do.
It is harder to forgive people and have compassion for them when you are holding them to unreasonable expectations. Do not hold them to any expectations at all, and you will find peace.
"But, I want to know if he/she is going to get better, or must I move on?" You cannot have an answeer to that question from an addict's lips. You will only know the truth by his/her actions.
Does the addict go to meetings?
Does the addict pray daily and seek a spiritual lifestyle?
Does the addict break old behavior and activity patterns and build new, healthy ones?
Does the addict readily admit when he/she is wrong?
Does the addict seek to serve others and emerge from the shell of selfishness?
You want to know if your addict is going to relapse, then look at these indicators of recovery. If all these aren't happening, then you have a time-bomb on your hands.
Yet, still, there is always the probability of a relapse even when things are going well. The honest addict will tell you he/she only has today and has no clue about tomorrow, other than the hope that God will help him/her stay sober tomorrow, but he/she must focus on today.
Don't trust... live. Make the best decisions you can with the evidence in front of you rather than promises that men are simply not strong enough to keep. Humans cannot really make such promises any more than they can promise not to die in the middle of the night. It surprises us when the person dies this way at 20, but not at 90. It is all about probability.
Just as the addict must live with a daily reprieve, so will you if you choose to live with an addict. You, too, will have to live your own spiritual program to not fall into codependency. Codependents develop in part because they want to 'trust' their addicts and so go out of their way to make things go 'as planned.' That's what drives them crazy.
Do not burden yourself with trust. Do your best, and be honest about looking at your addict's behavior and measuring it.
To be honest, I don't want anyone to 'trust me.' I know that I will eventually fail, and that I will have to repent at some point. I also know that trust brings with it unreasonable expectations. Pretty soon, people are trusting me with all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. That's why I tell people to not trust me because I say something, but instead hear me and then go check out what I said. If you find a better option, then stick with that.
I don't derive happiness from people trusting in me, because I know that if there is anything good in me, it is from God. He is much more reliable, and I would rather people see me for the flawed human being that I am who serves a trustworthy God than being trusted by others whom I am guaranteed to disappoint.
I don't even trust myself, and this is actually at the core of my own spiritual walk: I need God every moment of every day, because I am almost certain to fail.
Put your trust in God. For everyone else, judge their actions and realize it is all about probability.