Forgiveness is a tricky subject in regards to loved ones with addiction. Drug relapse and recovery is an exhausting cycle which may occur multiple times before a person fully enters recovery and the grip of addiction is loosed. After all the struggles that come with a loved one’s addiction, forgiveness may feel challenging. Learn some tools to use when seeking ways to forgive a loved one with addiction.
The act of forgiveness is an important step for recovery. A loved one with addiction must learn to forgive oneself in order to heal and, likewise, loved ones must learn to offer forgiveness to a loved one to move beyond fear, anger, resentment and other toxic emotions. Having said that, forgiveness does not include:
- Excusing or accepting bad behavior
- Denying anger or suppressing emotions
- Eliminating consequences
- Letting people off the hook
To Forgive is Not to Forget
A loved one with addiction will do many things to cause pain and sorrow in the lives of family and friends. Even if the individual accepts responsibility, bitterness and disappointment loom large in the minds of the people harmed. Forgetting what happened is not part of the forgiveness equation. Forgiveness is an inherently selfish act which allows a person to move beyond the pain to find inner peace. Allowing an outside force to dictate what a person should feel is not going to help forgiveness work.
The following are ten steps to help a person get started in letting go of the past and working on forgiveness. Emotionally and physically, the act of forgiveness can have positive repercussions across the board. Here’s how to move through the process:
- Make an effort to work on forgiveness and letting go of negative emotions
- Become educated on the nature of addiction, the cycle and perspective of how it works
- Notice life lessons about the person learned through supporting him or her through addiction
- Forgiveness is a process for one’s own health; the person with addiction may continue to struggle but this helps a loved one move forward even in the midst of another’s addiction
- It takes time to heal the wounds so be cautious about toxic emotions and focus on the positive power of forgiveness
- Seek help from counselors, codependency support groups, clergy, friends or others in the process
- Don’t keep tally of all the wrongs committed by the loved one with addiction
- Only offer forgiveness if it is a personal choice
- Forgive oneself as a promise of better things ahead
- Breathe, work through negative emotions and learn to slowly let go
Forgiveness is a journey which happens slowly over time. It is possible to move past the pain and hurt by setting goals and meeting them head on. The key is to quit letting the person with addiction control the forgiveness journey and only offer it when ready.
Forgiveness is about hope for something better. If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, healing is just around the corner. Call us to find out how we can support your journey and your loved one’s pathway to breaking the chains of addiction.