Addiction treatment and recovery isn’t just about cleansing your body of the substance abuse. One of the toughest and most rewarding parts about recovery is forgiving yourself for the addiction and the mistakes you made while being under the influence.
As human beings, we always find it easier to forgive others for their offenses than ourselves. We hold ourselves more accountable and say there’s absolutely no excuse for the mistakes we made and how we hurt others while high or drunk.
But let’s reverse the roles a bit. What if your spouse, sibling or best friend was struggling with addiction and seeking treatment? You might be angry, but you’d realize they were sick and not themselves when they hurt you. You’d find a way to forgive them.
That being said, it’s time to forgive yourself for your addiction and here’s how:
You might have yourself convinced that you could’ve prevented all the mistakes you made had you been strong enough to fight off the addiction. But the reality is, addiction isn’t a failure on your part; rather, it is recognized as a disease by most medical associations, such as the American Medical Association. Similar to other common diseases like diabetes, addiction is caused by a combination of biological, behavioral and genetic factors that can’t always be controlled.
Saying your addiction is a disease isn’t a crutch or an excuse to get away with your actions when you were under the influence. Accepting that you’re recovering from a disease is one of the first steps to forgiving yourself and building a sober life where you manage addiction just like a diabetic manages his own disease.
Forgiveness is a common theme throughout the Bible. While it does not directly speak to forgiving your own mistakes, the same lessons about forgiving others can also apply to yourself. For example, Ephesians 4:31-32 says:
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
It’s completely normal to be angry at yourself for the things you’ve done because of your addiction. But it’s important to not hold yourself more accountable than you do others. Be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up, especially now that you’re on the path to recovery. Instead, be open to forgiveness and let yourself come to terms with all that happened while you were struggling with your addiction. Christ has forgiven you, so follow his lead and forgive yourself, too.
Part of recovery is learning to let go of negative feelings like guilt and shame and start trusting yourself and others again. When you start blaming yourself, grab a notebook and write down the memory or experience that triggered the blame. Put the memory or experience and why it made you angry or ashamed down on paper so it can no longer eat away at you and hurt you.
If writing alone isn’t therapeutic enough, you can also talk to your therapist, sponsor or pastor when you’re struggling to forgive yourself for your addiction. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust who won’t be judgmental can help you let go of all that happened when you were in the middle of your addiction. Your support system will always be there to remind you to forgive yourself and keep you on the right track toward recovery.
At Covenant Hills, we strive to provide the same love, understanding and compassion Christ did to help you overcome your addiction and forgive yourself. Learn more about our faith-based addiction treatment process and contact us or call us directly at (800) 662-2873 for a free and confidential assessment.