Forgiving After Addiction
Drug addiction is a lifelong journey that has many pitfalls. Some addicts start taking a drug to relieve painful symptoms from a physical injury and eventually become addicted. Others turn to drugs to numb emotional pain. Alcohol can be a little trickier because it’s such a big part of everyday life and is more socially acceptable. Some people may start out as social drinkers and become dependent on alcohol because of stress, trauma, or other painful emotional or physical experiences.
Addicts usually cause a lot of emotional turmoil to others while indulging in their drug of choice. Some of their closest relationships with family and friends may be irreparably damaged. Substance abusers often have or develop mental health issues during their active addiction. These issues combined with the harmful effects of addiction often take an enormous toll on their loved ones.
Forgiveness comes hard for many people. Especially when it comes to forgiving yourself or your family member. It’s a process that can take years, or several months, but it’s necessary to release feelings of resentment. The principles in many programs 12 step programs stress the importance of forgiving oneself and others in order to move past the hurt and pain caused. Many of these issues are actually triggers for addicts, so letting go of them is not only advisable, but a necessity. The relief that accompanies forgiveness allows for a clearer, stronger, and more confident mind. If you are forgiving a family member after addiction, it can make your relationship together stronger, open, and honest.
Recovering addicts generally do much better with the support and encouragement of their loved ones. Unfortunately, for some people, the damage caused to the ones closest to them is unrepairable. Addicts are not always in control of their actions while under the influence and do selfish things. Many steal from loved ones, abandon their family, and responsibilities. It can be very painful to watch, experience, and witness these betrayals. This makes it hard to work past them.
So how can a recovering addict face the possibility that there is no forgiveness forthcoming from someone they desperately need it from? Some addicts may be in denial and feel no harm was done to others during their active addiction. Many memories may be erased or forgotten due to blackouts or severe mental illness.
Recovery is a time for those to reflect and think of the changes that have taken place in relationships because of addiction. It may seem selfish to focus on needs before everyone else’s, but it’s crucial to sobriety, especially in the beginning. It’s a huge accomplishment in and of itself to get to the point where you are free of your addiction and it doesn’t control you or your life anymore. Recognize the strength and perseverance required to get to that point. Education helps greatly also. Knowing the underlying causes and triggers, and how to avoid them, will make life less stressful and more peaceful moving forward.
Repairing The Relationship
If and when a loved one decides to forgive, it’s crucial that there is consistency and commitment. Apologizing for any wrongdoings or attempt to make amends in other ways, if necessary. Be patient with your loved ones during the process. Try to be a good listener while they’re “getting things off their chest.”
Friends and family who aren’t ready to repair your relationship, should be allowed space and time, even if that moment never arrives.