Addiction is a disease that not only impacts the person involved, but also the friends and family around them, so forgiving an addict can be hard.
Addiction is often a cause of other mental health conditions and is not always based on poor decisions and life choices, which is a common stigma. Sometimes, people are genetically more likely to develop an addiction, or drug or alcohol use may simply be an escape for them.
Understanding addiction on a deeper level helps you to move forward when the time comes for the addict to finally get the help they deserve. Forgiving an addict can be difficult, especially if your relationship has been impacted by their substance abuse. Although it is difficult, doing so can help both you and your loved one heal. Find out how to forgive an addict here.
The Emotional Toll of Addiction on Loved Ones
When someone that you know and love has an addiction, your relationship can be impacted and it can be hard to forgive them for issues that their addiction has caused. Family and friends may feel emotions such as anger, frustration or even guilt. So when an addict is overcoming their issues and apologising for their behaviour, it may not be so simple to accept it and move on. Instead, this may raise personal issues deep within your own mind, or stir up new emotions about the relationship with the person facing drug or alcohol addiction.
Forgiveness can be a challenge, and therefore you should not feel pressured into accepting it straight away. Oftentimes, private rehabilitation services offer counselling sessions for family and friends. This can be a helpful tool moving forward. However, if this has not been an option for you, then you must seek to find another route to forgiveness, and that can take time.
Why Forgiveness Matters
First of all, appreciating and understanding addiction and the importance of forgiveness will help you. Forgiveness is seeking a solution to conflicts, removing from us all negative feelings such as resentment, hatred, guilt, and rejection. This is a healing process that empowers a person. Holding grudges and not forgiving a person can take a mental and physical toll on a person. Many studies have shown that people who hold grudges have a lesser life expectancy.
Forgiveness also matters because we can then allow personal growth and development into our lives which can be incredibly therapeutic, particularly when addiction has had a huge impact on your life.
Many people may think a simple apology ‘can’t fix it’, but oftentimes, an apology takes courage from the other person too. This means that they are willing to accept that they have done wrong, and they are acknowledging the stress or trauma that they put you through. Sorry is a good solid gesture that can lead to growing, developing, learning and ultimately healing. It is also good to know how to cope with addiction as a family to work towards forgiveness.
Forgiveness does not mean that you are accepting their actions or forgetting what happened. These must be dealt with separately, and therapy and counselling sessions are the preferred course of treatment to help cope with your emotions. However, forgiveness means that you have understood the reason behind the action and are willing to move forward. You may never truly be able to accept why they developed an addiction, or even truly understand their hurtful actions, but forgiveness is a great tool to assist the addict in their recovery also.
Feeling that they have been heard can give them the courage to continue their journey to sobriety.
Advice on How to Forgive an Addict
Learning how to forgive an addict takes emotional strength and understanding. But when you can manage to overcome this, you can the numerous steps to forgiving an addiction and moving forward into a healthier and happier future. However, we can guide you on ways in which to help the process seem easier with some simple steps.
Introspection and talking to others
Introspection and understanding your own emotional journey are helpful for healing. Talking to others about the problem can also help you offload and give you a new perspective from a third party.
Acceptance and journaling
Once you accept that this has happened and the person facing addiction is suffering from a disease, it can help you feel more self-assured. Journaling can be a great tool to put your emotions in one place and help you make sense of them. This can form emotional therapy and also help professionals understand your thought processes.
Self care and help
Don’t neglect your own mental health during this time. Ensure that you are eating well, getting enough rest and moderate exercise. Don’t hide away from your emotions, and continue to be realistic with the expectations you set for yourself and others. Reaching out for help, on forums, from your GP or other local groups can be beneficial.
Boundaries are important for many reasons in life. However, when you are faced with addiction, it becomes even more important. These boundaries may include giving space or needing space, accepting certain behaviours or moderating certain behaviours to find out what you feel most comfortable with and what will ultimately help everyone involved.
We appreciate that addiction can take its toll on many people for different reasons. That is why it is important to always reach out for help if you need it. Feeling isolated or trapped can create new problems that may not be helpful to the situation. You may also want to consider private rehabilitation centres to ensure that your loved one is getting the help that they need and you are also gaining the support you need. Understanding addiction helps you to learn why these actions have happened and ultimately stop them from recurring.
If you have found yourself in the middle of a difficult situation dealing with addiction, then it is important to know there are many ways to get help. Continuing your journey of understanding and support is going to be the best way to create a healthy and balanced atmosphere during difficult times. Furthermore, professional advice and help await you if needed.
At Action Rehab, we are fully dedicated to helping individuals and their families recover from addiction. For more information and advice to help you forgive an addict, please get in touch using our contact form for advice.