Though it can be difficult, forgiving a loved one in recovery is an invaluable way to support them.

Watching someone you love struggle with addiction can be incredibly difficult. It may cause you to have feelings of anger, sadness and disappointment. It can be hard to understand why someone — especially when it’s a person you care about — uses drugs, and you may ask yourself why they won’t just stop. 

The choice to seek addiction recovery treatment is difficult, and many people who make this decision are at a very low point in their life. This is a vital time for friends and family to be there as a support group. Forgiveness in recovery is an important part of the process, and most people in recovery are aware of the mistakes they have made. Though it may be a hard, emotional time, learning how to forgive an addict can help ensure your loved one finds lifelong recovery. Here are four tips that can help you through the process.

Understand Addiction

Knowing the facts about drug addiction helps show what a debilitating condition it can be. The biggest misconception is that addiction is something you can simply stop. It’s not so easy — alcohol and drug addiction is a disease that affects brain processes, creating an overwhelming desire to use the substance. It’s a disease that is incredibly difficult to overcome alone, and recovery usually takes therapy, treatment and lifelong vigilance to maintain.

When learning how to understand addiction, it’s important to find medically accurate resources that paint a reliable picture. Sites like The Recovery Village that offer medically reviewed information that covers topics of drug addiction, mental health and recovery can help you understand the toll that addiction takes on a person.

Control Anger

When someone is addicted to drugs or alcohol, they may do or say things that hurt you. While it can be hard to do, it’s important to remember that this is not who they truly are. They were under the influence of a hard-to-beat disease, and they’re now taking steps to get better. They need your support more than ever.

If you find that controlling anger is too difficult, family addiction counseling can be incredibly helpful. A licensed therapist will be there to help better you understand your feelings and the feelings of your loved one. In addition, family support groups for addicts, such as Nar-Anon, can help family members talk with others who are in the same situation. You can gain insight from their experiences and learn more about how to deal with loved ones struggling with addiction or in recovery.

Don’t Have Expectations

In early recovery, addiction relapse is always a possibility. It’s important to lower your expectations for recovery in the early stages, as this is an especially volatile time for people with a substance use disorder. Otherwise, you will likely feel disappointed as they fail to meet your expectations. Even after rehab, few people are cured of addiction and the temptation of drugs or alcohol. 

Maintaining sobriety is a lifelong commitment and many people stumble along the way. However, this does not mean they are not committed to recovery, and these stumbles can provide valuable learning experiences for the future.

Be Patient

Though forgiveness is important in recovery, it’s unrealistic to expect you to forgive your loved one immediately. It can take time to move on from the past, and coping with addiction can be difficult for everyone involved. It may be more beneficial to focus on rebuilding relationships in recovery as you come to terms with forgiving your loved one. However, this time is well-suited for rebuilding relationships in recovery. 

Lifelong recovery starts with a day-to-day commitment, and it’s made easier with the support of friends and family. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug use or addiction, The Recovery Village is here to help. Our treatment plans can help your family through these difficult times and provide relief to those who are ready to overcome a substance use disorder. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and nationwide facilities.

Jonathan Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Kevin Wandler
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Kevin Wandler, MD
Kevin Wandler holds multiple positions at Advanced Recovery Systems. In addition to being the founding and chief medical director at Advanced Recovery Systems, he is also the medical director at The Recovery Village Ridgefield and at The Recovery Village Palmer Lake. Read more

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Addiction Science.” July 2015. Accessed July 13, 2019.

Nar-Anon. “Nar-Anon Family Groups.” (n.d.). Accessed July 13, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.