What Role Does Forgiveness Play in Addiction Recovery?

What Role Does Forgiveness Play in Addiction Recovery?

Addiction is considered a disease because it practically ‘hijacks” the brain – when we’re addicted to something, the cravings can get so intense that we’ll say or do anything that’s needed to fulfill that desire. Unfortunately, this could mean hurting close friends or family members by:

  • Lying about using or seeking help
  • Stealing medications or items to sell in order to buy more alcohol/drugs
  • Saying something we later regret
  • Getting into legal implications
  • And more

Even if this isn’t how we’d normally act sober, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. The truth is, addiction causes us and those we love, pain. In our quest for meeting the ever-increasing demands of addiction, we walk all over others and ourselves, because we truly believe that we can’t live without the substance. Once recovery becomes a critical turning point for us, we find forgiveness – from others and from ourselves – to be a hard, sobering step. Russell Brand described this exact turning point in his book titled, Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions“Part of that change is forgiveness and the willingness to look at our lives and the world differently. Ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to change, or do I just want to justify staying the way that I am?”

For many, navigating forgiveness is heartbreaking because it requires that we acknowledge and take responsibility for our wrongdoings – and that’s a painful reality to face. The things we’ve said and done can be downright devastating to really come to grips with, but it’s one of the most important steps we can take in recovery because it’s when we start to make things right. A lot of recovery programs highlight forgiveness since it’s such a critical component for healing and moving forward.

Back in 2015, researchers wanted to see if forgiveness therapy really made a difference on individuals in drug rehabilitation compared to traditional therapy that didn’t go into depth with this topic. They found that not only were the participants who engaged in forgiveness therapy more grateful for their journey to recovery, they also experience lower relapse rates compared to the other group – is this a coincidence?

Probably not, because we all need to practice and receive forgiveness in order to continue to value ourselves and contributions to the world. It’s partly a spiritual factor; if we’re able to “right” our “wrongs” in a sense, or at least apologize to those we’ve hurt, we can feel better about ourselves in moving forward with recovery. We can feel stronger, wiser and more capable. For many, forgiveness is freeing.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.