Last Updated on December 22, 2021 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Who in life hasn’t wanted a do-over at one time or another? We’ve all been in a position where we required forgiveness for something, and when we’ve been truly sorry, sought forgiveness, and received it, the feeling of gratitude and relief is overwhelming. It’s an opportunity for a fresh start.

This philosophy of second chances is prevalent in everyday life. There are all sorts of instances when you need to overlook a slight or disagreement—someone cuts you off on your morning commute, or you learn that a friend said something unkind about you behind your back—and make the conscious choice about whether it is a forgivable offense. In some cases, such as being cut off by another car, it’s easy to forgive and move on. In other cases, as when a friend betrays you, it can be much more difficult. Not only is forgiveness beneficial for the person being forgiven, it also benefits you because you are able to move forward, and heal if the act was deeply hurtful.

Second chances are part of the fabric of America. This is a land where immigrants come for the prospect of a new life, where rags-to-riches stories abound of people rising up from poverty to make something better of themselves, where we love a good comeback story. This philosophy, that everyone has the potential to redeem themselves and improve their life, is an important part of drug rehabilitation and recovery. You may be in a position where you need to forgive a loved one in recovery who wronged you while abusing substances and give them a second chance. Or perhaps you are the one in recovery who needs to extend forgiveness to yourself in order to have success in sobriety. In either case, the act of forgiveness can be life changing.

Forgiveness for Addiction Recovery

If you have a family member or loved one who abuses substances or is addicted to them, you know that it can be destructive to relationships. In the grip of an addiction, that person is only focused on using, to the detriment of everything else in their life. Substance abuse can also impact someone’s mental and emotional health. Depending on the drug and the extent of the addiction, the result can be mood swings, anger, violence, paranoia, and risky behaviors, all of which can take a toll on interpersonal relationships.

Also, someone addicted to drugs or alcohol may disappear for hours or days at a time on a bender to get high. It’s also common for addicts to lie about their behavior and drug use, making it difficult to trust them. These lies can also sow seeds of discord in a relationship that may seem irreparable.

A major step towards healing comes with the commitment to enter rehabilitation treatment for addiction. This admittance of a substance abuse problem is part of a lifelong journey of recovery, and marks the beginning of a second chance at a new life. Along this road to recovery, several of the steps on that path involve forgiveness.

As the loved one of someone in recovery, you may be asked to participate in family therapy, either at an in-patient treatment facility or as part of an outpatient program. This kind of therapy can be essential in healing wounds, examining fault lines in a relationship that need to be repaired, and giving both parties a chance at reconciliation. 

You may find yourself at a point where you are not ready to forgive yet. Perhaps you are still angry about the hurts you suffered, or trust needs to be re-established. You are the only person who can decide when you are ready to forgive. You may need time to assess if your loved one is truly repentant and regretful of the actions committed while in addiction—are they sorry for the pain they’ve caused? Do they take responsibility for their actions and can offer meaningful insight on why they happened? If your loved one is offering excuses for bad behaviors or challenging your version of events, this may signal they are not at the point where they are ready for your forgiveness. You may also want to seek out your own therapist to work through your trust issues or lingering pain caused by your loved one so you can move towards resolution. Once you are ready to give a second chance, it can be helpful to continue therapy together during the recovery process.

If you are the one recovering from addiction, it is vital to seek out that forgiveness from others. The philosophy of seeking out people you’ve hurt and making amends is a central tenet of 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Admitting to yourself and a higher power that you have committed wrongs against others, and then going to those people with a genuinely repentant heart and attitude, can be incredibly cleansing for the soul. 

It’s also important, however, that you extend that same forgiveness to yourself. When you were addicted, the substances controlled your life. With recovery, you have the freedom to rediscover who you really are without drugs or alcohol. You need to give yourself that second chance.

Whether you are on the giving or receiving end of forgiveness, you will reap many benefits from it. The release of pent-up anger or hurt can help you physically and psychologically; it lessens stress, brightens your outlook, and gives you more energy and positivity. If you are suffering as a result of addiction, contact Clear Sky Recovery. Our safe and effective, ibogaine therapy, overseen by a team of compassionate and knowledgeable medical professionals, can begin the recovery process and get you started on your second chance at life.