How to Forgive a Drug Addict

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Wondering how to forgive a drug addict? We’ve got answers.

Addiction is a family disease, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. It indelibly affects everyone involved, leading to unhealthy coping mechanisms to compensate for the chaos and uncertainty the addiction brings to the relationship. Addicted individuals often damage their relationships by lying to, stealing from, abusing, or otherwise hurting their friends and loved ones. This can lead to deep resentments and hard feelings, and it can leave you wondering how to forgive a drug addict.

Harboring negative emotions and nursing bad feelings toward an addicted friend or loved one doesn’t change what happened, but it can definitely take a toll on your quality of life and mental health. Forgiveness is important for healing and moving on, but how do you figure out how to forgive a drug addict? And what does forgiveness entail, anyway?

Forgiveness doesn’t mean excusing bad behavior, and it doesn’t mean denying your anger or “forgetting” it ever happened. It doesn’t mean that consequences shouldn’t occur, and it doesn’t mean that you’re letting your friend or loved one of the hook. Forgiveness isn’t even about reconciling a relationship or working on rebuilding trust after addiction if it’s a relationship that is toxic to you and causes nothing but hurt.

What forgiveness does mean is that you’re letting go of the anger and resentment that eats away at you and causes deeply negative emotions. You’re changing your state of mind so that you can live free of the burden of anger, fear, or resentment. You deserve peace of mind, and forgiveness can make that happen.

Here, then, are some tips on how to forgive a drug addict.

1. Understand addiction.

Addiction changes the physical structures and chemical functions of the brain, and these changes affect thought and behavior patterns. They lead to compulsive drug use, and they lead addicted people to do things they wouldn’t have done before the addiction, like lie, cheat, or steal. This isn’t to say that the addicted individual shouldn’t be held accountable for his actions. But knowing that the drugs are likely what led to the bad behaviors makes it a little easier to forgive.

2. Don’t wait for repentance.

If you’re waiting for your friend or loved one to apologize or make amends, you might end up waiting a long time. Meanwhile, the negative feelings will interfere with your own happiness. Don’t wait for repentance. Work on forgiving now. It’ll take some time, but once you forgive, you’ll find a great weight lifted off your shoulders, and once you do get an apology, rebuilding trust after addiction will be easier.

3. Make a conscious choice to let go.

It’s not easy, but it’s important to let go of anger, which is a toxic emotion that tinges all other emotions with negativity. Holding onto anger for a long period of time can do a number on your mental health and physical wellbeing, so practice letting it go by making a conscious effort to do so. What’s done is done, and lingering anger won’t change that or make anything better.

4. Don’t forget.

Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. Rather, it helps you learn from the past. What did you learn from the experience? How did it make you grow? What will you do differently if there’s a next time? Learning from the experience and growing from it–and acknowledging that it was a growth experience, however awful–is part of forgiving.

5. Don’t tell, if you don’t want.

Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean you have to tell them that. One of the rules about how to forgive an addict is that you’re doing it for yourself, not your friend or loved one.

How to Apologize to an Addict

Often, the process of forgiveness will involve self-evaluation. Although your addicted friend or family member ultimately put you in the position, you may have said or done some things that you, also, feel the need to apologize for. But how to apologize to an addict? Simply acknowledge the incident, and tell your loved one that you’re sorry. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re accepting all of the responsibility. It just means that you’re acknowledging that you wish you’d done some things differently.

Forgiveness will make a big difference in your life if you’re frequently suffering from negative emotions about your addicted friend or loved one. Making the choice to let go and move on may be one of the best choices you ever make.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.