Drug addiction and alcohol abuse don’t only affect the addict; they take a toll on his family and friends as well. Because someone struggling with addiction is often unable to see past their next high, things like familial and household responsibilities tend to fall by the wayside. It’s not uncommon for anything from failing to take out the trash to missed anniversaries to forgetting to pick up the kids from school to occur when things are at their worse. Similarly, it’s easy for them to forget that they have friends outside of any people they might drink or do drugs with, and plans will be canceled or forgotten to the point where it doesn’t seem worth trying anymore. It can be a particular problem if the addict has borrowed money – or worse, stolen – to support his habit, because that kind of thing can destroy trust. But what do you do if your friend or loved one has gone through recovery and wants to make amends? How do you let them back into your life and forgive the things they’ve done?
First of all, you’re not under any obligation to let the person back into your life. If you’re closely related or share a child, it might be necessary to at least get to a point where you can communicate with each other, but that doesn’t mean you can forget everything that’s happened. If the addict has stolen from you repeatedly or gotten violent with you, it might be in your best interest (and the interest of any children involved) to cut ties. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean reconciliation. You can choose to let go of your anger and resentment but still not want that close relationship back. You’re just letting go of the power that person has over you.
Otherwise, forgiveness is really a gift for both of you. You might be tempted to hang on to resentment or give them a taste of their own medicine, but spending all of your time feeling angry and frustrated isn’t just bad for your relationship, it’s bad for your health. It can cause anxiety, headaches, and high blood pressure, and weaken your immune system.
So how do you go about forgiving someone? First, recognize the benefits that it will have on your life. You’ll have your friend or relative back in your life – and if you’re close enough to want to try to forgive them, you must have had plenty of good times together that you want to recapture. Acknowledge all the things that have happened and how they’ve affected you, and talk them out. It can be with the person you’re trying to forgive, if they want to discuss it and you can do so calmly. Otherwise, it might be beneficial to speak to a therapist, especially if you’re having trouble letting go of your anger.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.