This article is by Timothy Esteves and published by American Addiction Centers
For those who know a loved one who struggles with addiction, it can be a painful experience. You may wonder why your loved one doesn’t just quit, why they allow alcohol or drugs to hurt them and others. Sadly, addiction is a brain disease that can affect how a person acts. In the throes of addiction, your loved one may have hurt you or those you care for. You may find it hard, even impossible to forgive them for the harm they’ve caused, even after they’ve achieved recovery.
Whether you struggle with addiction or have a loved one that struggles with addiction, forgiveness is an integral part of recovery. While it doesn’t mean forgetting any wrongs, forgiveness gives all parties the opportunity to move forward in a healthy and sober direction.
Forgiving a Loved One with Addiction
For those who have a loved one that struggles with addiction, it can be difficult to forgive them. Addiction can affect those who do not directly struggle with it. Many wonder why their loved ones can’t just quit using substance. The realities of addiction run deep, and affect a person’s physical and behavioral health. In the throes of addiction, your loved one may take actions that hurt you. When they achieve recovery, they may seek to make amends, but you may still feel the pain they caused.
Forgiving a loved one with addiction isn’t an easy thing to do. What’s important is to remember that forgiving somebody doesn’t mean forgetting their transgressions against you. Instead, forgiveness is an acknowledgement of the pain, yet also the act of refusing to let that pain define you. If your loved one seeks to make amends, seeks forgiveness, remembering this dynamic can help guide whether or not you forgive them.
Forgiving Others When You Have an Addiction
For those who struggle with addiction, you’re probably aware of how your past experiences can fuel addiction. Co-occurring mental health disorders are a common occurrence, and can feed addiction treatment. In a similar way, the wrongs done to you by others can also drive you to abuse substance. It follows that forgiving others who had wronged you can be an important way to solidify your recovery.
Once you’ve medically stabilized and completed addiction treatment, it may be time to take stock of all those who’ve caused you harm. While it may be difficult, forgiveness may also be imperative. Harboring negative emotions towards people, for whatever reason, can impede you recovery. Instead, forgiving others can help you take charge of your own recovery by moving past trauma and hurt that others have caused you.
Forgiving Yourself When You Have an Addiction
Forgiving others is the easy part. It can be harder to forgive yourself. If you are in recovery, you may look back on your time in the throes of addiction and feel a variety of negative emotions. Guilt, anxiety, shame, depression; all of these emotions can be quite impactful. Further, if you caused harm to your loved ones, you may feel guilty over these actions. It’s important to address any feelings of self-loathing while in recovery.
Finals Thoughts About Forgiveness and Addiction
At the end of the day, making amends with others can be a pivotal part of recovery. Making amends is part of the 12-Steps, and can be a challenging yet therapeutic experience. This Forgiveness Day take a moment to reflect on the lessons of forgiving others and yourself. And remember that forgiveness can help you lead a stronger, healthier life in recovery.