Of all the things we lose when we’re in the grip of addiction, perhaps the most painful is our reputation. Even the people in our lives who are often quick to forgive can be equally slow to forget our screw-ups. Learning how to reset your reputation is crucial toward succeeding in recovery.

Getting and staying sober—or clean, or abstinent—is always job one. Working a program of recovery is essential. But even 12 Step literature is painfully vague on exactly how you can rebuild a shattered reputation. The promise is that it can be restored—but how? Here are a some important ideas to keep in mind when working to reset your reputation.

Patience and Consistency Are Key To Reset Your Reputation

First and foremost, resetting a reputation takes time. Your addiction didn’t blow up your life in one day, and your good name isn’t coming back in one either. Your earnest words that you’ve changed won’t go very far with most; what they want to see is a transformation that unfolds over time. They want to see you—us—be consistent.

Consistency is not enough. We need to take responsibility publicly for what we did to damage our reputation. The amends process to individuals we harmed may be private, but our clients or partners also need to hear us acknowledge that we understand the harm we did to our own reputation. Being honest and open—without groveling—will go a long way to showing we’re serious about being different in both our business and our private lives.

Resetting Is More Realistic Than Restoring

But here’s the thing. Even if you are very patient, consistent and honest, some people will never trust you again. That’s why it’s helpful to talk about resetting, rather than restoring, a reputation. Restoring implies you can make it the way it was before. The reality is that in most cases, that’s not going to happen.

To reset your reputation means to take the best of what you were before the addiction, and marry it with the new person you’re becoming in recovery. You know that on some level, much of what you were doing “before” wasn’t working. A reset means very publicly doing certain things differently, not just to prove you’ve changed, but to prove you’ve learned.

Patience, consistency, honesty and a willingness to be different in new relationships: these are the foundation stones to reset your reputation, and to rebuild your life.