Forgiveness and Understanding

Two hands grasping
Photo by PeopleImages/

Forgiveness is essential for your loved one to remain sober. They will need forgiveness from two places. First, they will have to forgive themselves for the harm they have done. This will be extremely hard and likely one of the contributing factors to continued abuse—they have decided they would never forgive themselves. Second, they will need forgiveness from those they have harmed.

Yes, there are countless destructive actions they have caused during active addiction. The real question is, do you see a change within them? Can you see the light in their eyes? Are they doing everything in their power to make things right again?

Many have a rough time through this transition because their family has difficulties forgiving them. The best way to understand what an addict has gone through is to put yourself in their shoes. It can be challenging to do, mainly if you have never used a day in your life. There is an incredible amount of pain in trying to walk around with cement blocks on your feet and a continuous nagging in your head telling you to do something you are battling to quit. Addiction is a vicious cycle and does not relax its grip once it has taken hold.

It is not fun to lie, cheat, and steal to pay for an ever-growing habit, especially to someone who has supported and loved you and had your back. Guilt builds up, and sometimes the amount of destructive behaviors is so tremendous it is challenging to confront all of what an individual has done. It gets to a point they cannot look at themselves in the mirror and be okay with who they have become. So, they use drugs or alcohol to avoid this monster they have become.

If you can understand what an addict has gone through and feel what a rollercoaster addiction is, forgiveness is within reach, opening the door to endless possibilities and a mended relationship. This does not mean you must forget, but it is vital not to dwell on or fixate over the past, especially when there is evidence the addict has changed. You know them, so you will know if they have changed.

It may be difficult not to reopen old wounds, but it is better to let them get on with repairing the damage as opposed to focusing on it. In almost all cases, one who is in active addiction is keenly aware of the destruction they are causing, at least to some degree. Replaying what they have done is redundant and will have them feeling remorse and guilt, possibly to the point of relapse. That is unnecessary and will do more harm than good.

It also helps to commend them on completing treatment because that is a huge milestone, and they should know you are proud of them. Typically, recognition for an accomplishment is something they have craved for some time, and your friend or loved one deserves it.

Sobriety, although hard-won, can be difficult if there is no support system. So, it is in the best interest of your loved one to help them through this rough transitional period. In treatment, they are in a controlled environment where they have no access to drugs or alcohol. Leaving to re-experience life again with almost no boundaries can sometimes be overwhelming.

Just be patient and kind to the one who has found sobriety. Talk to them, love them, and help them. Their healing does not cease just because they were in treatment. It continues after they get home too.



Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.