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Learning to Forgive an Addict

If there is an addict in your life, especially if it’s someone close to you, like a family member or significant other, that person’s addiction has probably caused you some problems. Some of these may have been very bad, such as abuse or neglect by a parent, or stealing and lying by a spouse. If you have been living with this pain for a long time, forgiveness can be hard. In fact, you may not even want to forgive, even after your loved one has been in recovery for a while.

Although you may not feel inclined to forgive, holding onto your anger only hurts you. Forgiveness benefits you more than the other person. You can sit alone in your room being angry at someone but he’ll never feel it, while you will become tense, miserable, and sick. Forgiveness is good for you and it is good for the addict in recovery.

Forgiving is also easier said than done. You may feel at your core that your safety and survival are at stake, that the moment you let your guard down, all the bad things will start happening again. For one thing, forgiveness does not mean forgetting, or acting recklessly. You don’t forfeit your right to set boundaries and protect yourself. You are just letting go of your anger.

The quickest route to forgiveness is understanding that the other person has suffered too. No one chooses addiction and no one is oblivious to the damage addiction does to his life, although some people may persist in blaming other people for a long time. What’s more, there is usually pain at the root of addiction. Addiction grows around trying to escape the pain but it only ends up making it worse. When you think of all the pain your addicted loved one has caused you so that forgiveness feels all but impossible, try to at least acknowledge that the other person is not the source of that pain, but only a link in the chain.

If this is still too difficult, try another approach. Imagine the person as a child. Often the pain that leads to addiction happened in childhood. If you imagine the suffering of the child, who is not well equipped to deal with fear and pain, you may find forgiveness easier. If you can start with understanding, you might eventually find your way to compassion.

Forgiveness is hard, but in the long run, it will make life better for your and your loved one in recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.