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Finding freedom from the guilt of addiction: Learning to forgive

Posted on 06-04-2015 Posted in Addiction Treatment, Mental Health - 0 Comments


The recovering addict has left the rehabilitation center. Their body is now clear of toxins and their mind is ready to take on the world once again. This doesn’t mean the past is gone. It still has the potential to haunt this person.

Drug addiction is a powerful force for many stuck under its control. For example, narcotic painkillers bind to opiate receptors in the brain. Typically, these receptors are bound by special hormones called neurotransmitters. When drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin are used for a long period of time, the body slows down production of neurotransmitters. A decrease in neurotransmitters makes the body less effective at relieving pain on its own. Narcotic painkillers fool the body into thinking it already has enough transmitters. Without painkillers, the body must go through the painful process of learning how to heal naturally and re-learning how to produce the necessary neurotransmitters for the process.

Additional strife comes during the emotional journey of experiencing life without drugs. Before accepting the problem as something to be treated, it can be common for an addict to hurt the ones around them. For example, an addict might steal money or valuables from family members to fuel their habit. Having close ties to an addict can create feelings of sympathy which may lead to a loved one unknowingly enabling the addict’s destructive behavior. Likewise, a family member may feel guilty saying “no” to a relation if they ask for money or resources to fuel a bad habit. However, this kind of enabling not only perpetuates the addiction, but also strains relationships.

When a recovering addict looks back at these times, he or she might experience extreme guilt. The addict might think about the pain they have caused and wonder how they could ever make it right. Family members may perpetuate this train of thought,“guilt-tripping” the addict long after the incidents happened. In this case, it is essential for families to learn forgiveness of a recovering drug addict:

  • Learn about addiction: Society still has a stigma against drug addicts and this seeps into their personal lives. There are so many myths surrounding people struggling with this disease and it’s important to learn about them. When ignorance is removed, humanity can thrive.
  • Forgive but don’t forget: An addicted loved one likely can cause physical, emotional and financial damage. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean forgetting what was done. Instead, acknowledge what happened, figure out how to keep it from occurring again and emotionally embrace the addict.
  • Give it time: Forgiveness isn’t a simple act. This is a process of self-exploration that can take weeks, months and even years to follow through. Stick it out. In the end, everyone will benefit.
  • Let the hate go: Hate is a toxic emotion. It takes incredible effort to let this emotion go when it feels justified. However, hate has rarely built anything worthwhile. This emotion requires large amounts of effort and time, essentials best spent on positive personal changes.
  • Changes in the dynamic: Forgiving a loved one doesn’t mean you have to immediately welcome him or her back into your life. If this person has not made positive changes, it is perfectly okay to keep contact to a bare minimum.
  • Don’t wait for repentance: Though the addict will probably feel guilty at some point, don’t wait around for that day to come. Be the first to forgive and start the healing process.

Here at Sovereign Health Group of Fort Myers, Florida, we know the importance of treating patients and supporting them after they leave the facility. If you or someone you know is dealing with a drug addiction and is prone to relapse, contact our admissions specialists via online chat or over the phone.

We accept Most Private Insurance, reach out to us to so we can help!

Sovereign Health Group is a leading addiction, dual diagnosis and mental health treatment provider. Call our admissions team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get the help you deserve.

The dual diagnosis program was what attracted me to Sovereign Health. My therapist was always open for discussion and the group sessions were very informative and educational.

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