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How to Forgive an Addict

Addiction can lead to physical health problems and poor mental health, but it isn’t just the addict who suffers. Often drugs and alcohol can give way to negative behaviors that can strain relationships, break trust, and more. When this occurs, it’s the spouses, parents, and children of the individual who often suffer and have issues moving forward. If you have a loved one who has struggled with substance abuse for a long time or is in recovery and you’re struggling to move on, we’re sharing tips on how to forgive an addict that may help.

Importance of Forgiveness in Addiction Recovery

The ability to forgive someone who has hurt us seems to elude many people and can become a spiritual poison. This is why learning to forgive by practicing forgiveness is crucial to success on the path to sobriety.

One of the points emphasized in the Bible is the area of forgiveness. We declare it in the Lord’s Prayer. When asked how to pray during the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus responded with what is now known as the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father.”

During this prayer, He stated, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Forgiveness was also the first point Christ mentioned after the Lord’s prayer - Matthew 6:14!

If we know there is such an emphasis on forgiveness and that it was not just a suggestion, then why is it that it is so difficult for so many of us to forgive and let go of resentments? Many people do not realize that forgiving someone is not for the person who hurt us but for our peace of mind and well-being.

A major obstacle in the process of forgiveness is allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the person who did wrong to us. We may say, “I was already hurt once by this person. Why would I put myself out there again?” The reality is if we do not forgive, we allow that person or situation to hurt us over and over again through our destructive thoughts.

Learning to forgive on the road to recovery by practicing forgiveness is much easier said than done, as many of us have harbored major resentments toward people who have hurt us in the past. It’s common to be tormented by one’s thoughts, taking them wherever we go and carrying this poison into every aspect of one’s life.

But why would we ever want to give someone that type of power? Instead of forgiving the individual, a major mistake we often make is continuously feeding the negative thoughts that caused resentment in the first place.

When we feed resentments by spending time rehashing the situation, we make it a bigger part of our life than it needs to be. When we begin to interrupt the pattern of continuously revisiting the hurt, which is like pouring gasoline on a fire, it is then that we will begin to move on with life.

We have all heard the saying, “life is short” or "this is not a dress rehearsal." If we begin to ask God not only how we can get through the hurts of life but also how we can grow through them, we begin to change our perspective on the situations that are causing us pain.

When it comes to forgiveness on the road to sobriety, begin by addressing the smaller things and build up to the major areas of life where forgiveness is necessary. In addiction recovery, forgiveness can prepare you as a loved one of the addict to support them in their toughest times, and it can further motivate the individual to change their ways.

How to Forgive an Alcoholic or Drug Addict

Forgiving an addict can be challenging, to say the least. Many addicts with severe addictions reach a point where they’ll lie to and steal from loved ones to get their fix. They may neglect their families and responsibilities to drink or use drugs.

It gets to a point where their substance abuse matters more than everything else. But this isn’t the person acting or talking. It’s the addiction. And when a person who’s struggled with drug and alcohol abuse finally gets help and gets through the fog, they begin to see the error of their ways.

If you were on the receiving end of a person’s addiction-fueled behavior, then you may find it difficult to make amends with them and rebuild your relationship. If this is something you desire, then below are tips on how to forgive an addict that can help:

Focus On Your Future

Having someone close to you who is an addict can be a challenge. You care about them, so at times, you may have put their needs above your own. To forgive them for their wrongdoings against you, you will need to focus more on how you can be happier moving forward and less on what they did wrong.

Remember, Forgiveness Takes Time

When someone hurts you deeply or betrays your trust, it is unrealistic to think that you can forgive them in an instant. Forgiveness is a process that can take time as you heal from these wounds. Even if your loved one is now sober, you may find that you have yet to fully forgive them. Give yourself time to heal.

Learn About Addiction

A drug or alcohol addiction can blind a person to the damage they’ve caused. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the severity of a substance use disorder, then you may not realize how a drug or alcohol problem can change a person’s character and behavior entirely. By educating yourself on substance abuse, you may open your mind to the challenges that the individual faces in active addiction, which can soften your heart to the idea of forgiving them.


If you are struggling to forgive, you are not alone. Forgiveness can be difficult, so turning to God during this time may give you the strength you need. Pray to Him for help in this process so that you can move forward with your life.

Lower Your Expectations

It may be unrealistic to believe that someone who hurt you multiple times will never do it again. If the addict is still a part of your life, it may be better to lower your expectations. You may never get an apology, and you will have to become okay with that.

Separate Yourself

If someone is hurting you or is only a source of toxicity in your life, it may be time to separate yourself from them. Once you do separate yourself, they will no longer be able to hurt you. It is then that you can begin to distance yourself from the pain that they have already caused you. This may be the only way that you are finally able to forgive them and focus on your own life. If your loved one takes active steps to get better, such as medical detox or a treatment program, you can reconsider.

Get Professional Help

It’s natural to struggle with forgiving an addict, but not doing so can breed resentment and be a weight on your shoulders. If you are struggling to move forward, it may be time to talk to a professional about your problems. They will be best suited to help you move past the wrongdoings and focus on creating a brighter future for yourself.

Our Christian Addiction Recovery Services

As a Christian drug rehab that’s treated countless individuals for drug and alcohol use disorders, we understand the many hardships faced by those with addictions. If you’re searching for Christ-centered addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, we’re here to help.

Call Faith in Recovery today at 888-280-4763 or send us your contact information to learn more about our faith-based addiction recovery programs and how to get started.

Related Reading:

Importance of Family Support for Addiction

How to Tell People You Are in Recovery