Overcoming an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or even prescription medication is never an easy task and often requires a constant commitment to a life of sobriety. Understanding the importance of cultivating self-forgiveness throughout the addiction recovery process is essential to move forward while maintaining a positive lifestyle and a healthy future outlook. With the right tips, resources, and tools learn the benefits of practicing self-forgiveness while letting go of feelings of guilt and shame from your past.
The Long-Term Effects of Addiction
Unfortunately, millions of individuals face addiction each year in the US and around the globe. Battling and overcoming addiction is not always a simple process, especially as most individuals who have developed an addiction are avoiding underlying problems and potentially undiagnosed mental health disorders. Addressing addiction and understanding the long-term effects addiction has on an individual’s life is imperative before learning how to forgive yourself while asking for the forgiveness of others who mean the most to you in your life. Some of the most common long-term effects of a serious addiction that impact the addicted individual and those involved in their lives include:
- Loss of Relationships: Social isolation, the development of anxiety, and depression are all culprits when it comes to losing relationships while struggling with an addiction. The preoccupation of obtaining the drug or alcohol an individual has become reliant on often leads to withdrawing from traditional social gatherings and activities that were once a source of joy.
- Relationship Strains: Repeated run-ins with the law due to addiction can cause great strains on relationships with those who have an addiction. Families, friends, and even partners may become increasingly distraught and discouraged when attempts to help an individual who is struggling to overcome an addiction fall short of expectations.
- Physical and Psychological Trouble: Extreme drug or alcohol abuse can quickly become detrimental to the mental and physical state of the body. Organ damage, seizures, extreme weight loss, heart problems, and even death are all possible with a serious and long-term addiction.
Forgiving Yourself First Matters
Having the ability to forgive yourself for past mistakes and relationship woes you have experienced is one of the most important elements of addiction recovery and rehabilitation. If you are currently unable to forgive yourself for your past and your past bad habits, it can be difficult to cultivate new relationships or repair the relationships you formerly held with friends and family members in your life. In order to begin the process of self-forgiveness, there are a few resources to consider and keep in mind such as:
- Individual Counseling/Therapy: Individual counseling sessions with a licensed and experienced therapist is highly advisable for anyone struggling to forgive themselves of a past addiction and their negative behaviors in the past. Seek out a therapist who specializes in working with individuals who have faced serious addiction while struggling to forgive themselves.
- Group Sponsor Meetings: Attend sponsor meetings at NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) to hear similar stories of addiction and overcoming challenges from individuals who have been in situations that are parallel to your own. Obtain a sponsor that is available to turn to 24/7 if you are still struggling with forgiving yourself or opening up to family, friends, and loved ones. Attending group sponsor meetings is a great way to learn about the value of forgiving yourself and moving forward in the right direction instead.
- Group Counseling: Group counseling intended for individuals struggling with addiction is highly recommended for those who are unable or unwilling to currently forgive themselves. Group counseling sessions provide valuable insight into the lives of other individuals who have been in similar situations, allowing you the ability to learn from others as you overcome the guilt, shame, and judgment you are keeping within you.
- Meditation and Wellness: Practicing meditation regularly along with wellness exercises such as deep breathing techniques are extremely beneficial for those struggling to overcome addiction or face their past. Knowing how to properly control your breathing along with your incoming thoughts prevents panic and anxiety attacks while allowing you the ability to see your situations clearly and without disruption.
Open Up to Others
Once you begin utilizing resources available for individuals who struggle to forgive themselves after overcoming an addiction, consider reaching out to family members, friends, and loved ones who are most important to you in everyday life. Reconnecting with those who mean the most to you helps to boost natural dopamine in the brain, providing you with a sense of relief and positivity in the mind.
Those who are willing to listen to you while remaining open to your thoughts and apologies likely want the very best for you and want you to live without feeling ashamed of your past and the addictions you have faced. Opening up to loved ones and friends can help with minimizing the anxiety and depression you experience each day, especially if you are still new and fresh to a life of sobriety.
Ask for Support
Ask for support from friends and loved ones to feel strong and motivated while abstaining from drugs and alcohol. When you directly ask for and obtain the support you need from loved ones, you are likely to feel more positive and hopeful than attempting to live a life of sobriety without the mental and emotional support you require. Remain open and honest about the struggles and obstacles you face each day with your support group. Friends and loved ones who genuinely want the best for you are willing to listen to you without judgment while providing you with the encouragement necessary to forgive yourself.
While completing an addiction recovery program requires hard work, it also provides an invaluable experience along with necessary lifestyle tools required to maintain sobriety and a positive way of life. With the ability to forgive yourself while rebuilding relationships and maintaining your sobriety, readily take on the challenges of the future you truly desire for yourself without feeling lost or unable to move forward.