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How Do You Forgive an Addict? 7 Essential Steps
The effects of addiction reach far beyond the addict. Friends and family members are ultimately forced to pay a hefty price in the face of a loved one’s addiction. Forgiving an addicted loved one can be one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome.
The question is: How do you forgive an addict?
Lies, Lies, Lies
The disease of addiction drives people to lie, cheat, neglect, steal, and even physically abuse the ones who love them most. Parents commonly find teenage sons or daughters stealing their money to buy drugs. Friends are lied to, manipulated and misled. Husbands and wives divorce over addiction-related financial problems and devastating secrets. Addiction is felt by all and it leaves behind some pretty painful wounds.
Do it for Yourself
Offering forgiveness isn’t exclusively about easing someone else’s conscience. On the contrary, the act of forgiveness is about you. It’s a way to lift the heavy burden and overwhelming sadness you feel, leaving the shackles of resentment in your rearview mirror. Letting go allows you to take responsibility for your own happiness and gives you permission to move on with life.
Here are 7 tips to help you on your path to forgiveness:
- Make an honest effort: Only you have the power to let go of negative emotions. Choosing to move forward on a healthier path will prepare you to forgive whole-heartedly.
- Learn about addiction: If you’ve never struggled with addiction, it’s hard to understand the terminal grip this disease can hold. Learning about addiction can help you gain perspective and learn to forgive.
- Forgive but don’t forget: Your addicted loved one likely caused you physical, emotional and financial damage. Forgiving him or her doesn’t mean you have to forget about the past. You can choose to learn from the experience and grow stronger for the future.
- Give it time: You don’t wake up one morning, decide it’s time to forgive the addict who hurt you, and it’s instantly done. Healing is a process and, without the proper tools, true forgiveness can be difficult.
- Let the anger go: Anger is a toxic emotion. If bottled up for long periods of time, these feelings can eat you alive. Making a conscious decision to let the anger go is a great step in the right direction.
- Changes in the dynamic: Forgiving a love one doesn’t mean you have to welcome him or her back into your life. If the addict refuses to seek treatment or has no desire to stop, forgive from a distance and move on.
- Don’t wait for repentance: Forgiveness is self-serving. You don’t need an addict to express regret before you forgive. Though he or she will probably feel guilty at some point, don’t wait around for that day to come.
Letting go of the past allows you to move toward a brighter future. The act of forgiveness brings an overwhelming sense of peace and helps to build new lives – not only for the addict, but for families, friends and loved ones.