Learning How to Forgive

Learning How to ForgiveThe theme of forgiveness runs throughout traditional 12-step addiction recovery programs. Adolescents and young adults who are recovering from substance abuse are suggested to reach out to the people in their lives who may have been hurt by their addiction. As important as it is to seek forgiveness and to make amends with others, it is equally important for a recovering addict to extend their own forgiveness to the people who may have hurt them. Lingering anger and resentment interferes with long-term recovery trapping us in the negative thought processes which greatly helped foster addiction in the first place.

Human nature tends more toward vengeance than atonement. Reaching out to make amends or offer forgiveness is counter-intuitive. When a person feels that somebody else has hurt him, his first instinct is usually to try to get even. Learning to forgive requires stepping outside of ourselves and seeing things from the perspective of another person. Humans in general but especially those with addiction, operate from a selfish center. However, forgiveness is more about us than it is about the person we are forgiving or who is forgiving.

Forgiveness is more than just forgetting about past transgressions. Forgiveness is about releasing the tight grip on anger and punishment. When we forgive others and ask others to forgive us, we end the cycle of punishment. One spiritual sentiment relates that anger is the poison we drink while intending to harm another.


Ways of Forgiving and Making Amends

  • Repay debts
  • Give back stolen items
  • Volunteer to resurrect damaged property
  • Adopt new behaviors for “living amends”, such as showing up on time, obeying curfew, helping with chores, and participating in family activities
  • Sustaining long term sobriety


True recovery from addiction will include looking for deeper meaning in life, going beyond the superficial and temporary euphoria previously found in drugs and alcohol. That deeper meaning involves living in the present and overcoming past pain and negativity. Forgiveness is a critical piece of the process that helps a recovering addict to find and develop that deeper meaning.


Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past. Are you ready to change your future? Start with Sustain Recovery Services in southern California. We offer a comprehensive program for extended care services, catered to young adults and adolescents in recovery. Call 949-407-9052 to learn more about how our unique program can help you achieve long term sobriety.