Learning to Forgive Yourself and Others After Drug and Alcohol Addiction

typical day in rehabOften addicts going through treatment think they have completed the hardest part of getting sober once they are done with their initial program. Unfortunately, that is not the case for most people. Returning to everyday life and the stresses of work and family without using the coping mechanism of drinking or drugs is extremely difficult. Many times facing people that you may have hurt in any number of physical, emotional and or financial ways while sober is one of the hardest things someone in recovery must do.

This is why learning to ask for forgiveness from others, knowing how to forgive people who may have wronged you along the way, and finding a path to forgive yourself for destructive choices that were made in the past are key to staying in recovery. Forgiveness is not solely a religious concept, and you need not be part of a religion or even believe in God to experience the power of forgiveness.

Steps to Help Move Towards Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an emotional journey that can’t be rushed, but it can be kept in mind as the goal you are moving towards. Generally, forgiving or being forgiven is a process that takes however long it takes. Here are some steps in the process:

  • Time. Sometime all someone needs is time and distance from a situation in order to heal from it and be ready to forgive
  • Reflection. Taking time to look back and understand all the circumstances that caused a situation to occur can help, and understanding someone else’s perspective is crucial in getting to a place of forgiveness.
  • Open communication. Whenever possible, a respectful open dialogue about a hurtful issue, possibly with the help of a professional counselor to mediate, can bring to light a number of misunderstandings that caused the problem. When communication shuts down, it makes it harder to reach a genuine place of forgiveness
  • Clean slate. You will know you have gotten to forgiveness for yourself or others when you feel there is a clean slate and nothing left to talk about. This does not always mean you or the other party wants a future relationship; sometimes it does, but either way forgiveness is necessary if an old hurt is still affecting people in the present.

Once You Have Forgiven, Move Toward a Future Filled With Possibilities

Your choices define who you are, and once you start consistently making different choices, people will start seeing you in a different light. Don’t allow the forgiveness process to let you stay in a place of self-criticism where you think you are defined by your mistakes. Ask for forgiveness from others, forgive yourself, and then move on and work towards building a life that excites you and fills you up. It is possible, and you can get there.

How important do you think forgiveness is in the recovery process? Share your thoughts below.