People in the midst of drug addiction may hurt the people they love most. They may lie, steal or physically harm family members and friends. Addiction can be just as hard on family and friends as it can be on the addict. When addicts seek treatment and enter recovery, one of the requirements may be to go to the people they hurt for forgiveness.
As the loved one of an addict, you may find it difficult to extend forgiveness in recovery. However, it is essential for all people involved to seek some kind of resolution, and these are the steps that can aid in those efforts.
In order to reach forgiveness, it helps to understand that addiction is a disease. It led the individual to do harmful things that hurt themselves and those around them, but those acts do not define who they are as a person. They likely feel terrible about what they did in the past. You can still feel upset about what occurred, but knowing that the addictive brain lacks the ability to control can make it easier to move towards forgiveness.
Forgiving a loved one is as much about your own well-being as the addict’s. Holding onto anger of the past will not make you feel better. You may not wish to resume a meaningful relationship with the addict, but if you continue to feel resentment or anger, then you only harm yourself. Many people choose to forgive an addict while making it clear the friendship or familial bond is indeed broken.
If you’re not ready to let go, then you may not be able to move forward with forgiving your loved one. It’s your decision to forgive, and if and/when you choose to do so, letting go is one of the best ways to forgive honestly and wholeheartedly.
You may not feel completely comfortable allowing the addict back into your life fully, and that is okay. You can forgive a person while simultaneously creating boundaries to make it clear to the person you are still hurt about what transpired. You can make it clear a relationship with you is only possible if the addict continues treatment.
Loved ones need to remain patient with addicts because the road to recovery is long and tumultuous. That journey may involve relapses. If you want to remain in the addict’s life, then you need to be ready for those setbacks. You may know you are not ready for that kind of stress and heartbreak, and in that instance, it may be best to distance yourself until you feel ready to reestablish a relationship.
The relationship between you and the individual with an addiction will not become mended at the snap of your fingers. You can say you forgive the person, but you can also make it clear that their actions hurt you. Forgiving is not the same as forgetting, and you need to know that it takes time for those wounds to heal.
Ultimately, forgiving an addicted loved one can help both of you continue to heal. Understand that it can take just as much time to forgive as it can to get to recovery.
For more information on how to communicate and be a source of support, check out our blog post on how to communicate with a loved one who is in sobriety.
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