When setting goals with our clients, we first focus on sobriety. Getting our clients off of drugs and alcohol is paramount in order to help our clients approach the painful roots of their triggers and traumas that have been causing their addictions.
When the root is addressed the next step is helping the client to forgive themselves for the choices they have made. Many clients continue their addictions in order to self-medicate themselves for the pain they are experiencing. In order for the client to embrace forgiving themselves we help them to cultivate compassion and understanding for the things they did while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. When an addict can forgive themselves, they can create compassion, kindness and peace in their lives. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthy relationships
- Spiritual and psychological well-being
- Less stress and hostility
- Lower blood pressure
- Fewer symptoms of depression
- Less substance and alcohol abuse
We teach the clients that if we dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility toward ourselves can take root. If a person allows negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, they might find themselves swallowed up by their own bitterness. The effects of holding a grudge go beyond self harm:
If a person is unforgiving towards themselves, they might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience (think of road rage.) This individual may become so wrapped up in the wrong that they can’t enjoy the present. The individual can also become depressed or anxious with a life that lacks meaning or purpose. This individual will lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
We teach forgiveness as a commitment to a process of change.
To begin, we have our clients reflect on the facts of the traumas of their childhood, financial hardship and or broken relationships. We look at how they reacted with drugs and alcohol. We then look at how these actions have affected their life, health, well-being and the lives of others.
When encourage our clients to forgive themselves and make amends to others where necessary and first and foremost with themselves. By relinquishing the anger the client holds toward themselves they are better able to move away from the shame that triggers alcohol and drug abuse. As our clients let go of grudges towards themselves they learn to no longer define themselves as hopeless addicts. They can now see where they have been hurt and can now move on to show compassion and understanding to others in their life who also need forgiveness.