Do you feel like you’ve constantly let people down or failed them in some way? You may find yourself saying that your addiction makes you do it and to some level that is completely true. There is also another aspect of that where you need to take responsibility for your substance abuse and recovery.
When you are an addict, the idea that you are a bad person can be downright overwhelming at times. It can be more than you can handle right now with everything else going on in your life. Many people spend days living with the guilt of feeling like they’ve messed up their lives – you are not alone!
The truth is, you have messed up! You have let people down. You’ve lied, stolen and cheated your way to get what you’ve wanted and those actions hurt people.
The Disease of Addiction
Addiction changes the way your brain works. It quickly makes everything you do, say and feel revolve around getting more drugs or alcohol. Once you’ve started using, there is no way to change those unpleasant effects.
Addiction consumes your every thought to the point that you cease caring for others. It also has the power to turn you into a person you are not. You are not bad, the addiction is! This is why it is referred to as a disease.
Addiction doesn’t care where you’ve come from, what accomplishments you have achieved or how nice you are. It will completely erase all of that and turn you into a monster; someone that doesn’t care anymore about what happens to others.
What do we do? Just throw our hands in the air and keep blaming the addiction for how we hurt others?
What’s The Solution?
Time has the power to heal the bad things that have happened. This applies not just to what you’ve done, but also to the things that have happened to you. Building a solid, healthy recovery is the first step to making these hurts right again.
We must own the things we’ve done. We don’t have to feel guilty about them or shameful, but we did do them. The people that we’ve hurt deserve to have us take responsibility.
I know it’s not a fun process and it can be painful, but it is necessary if you ever want to climb out of this hole. To change your life, you must start by doing the hard things.
Yes – you did those things because you are an addict. That’s true, but you still did it.
It feels like it would be easier to just walk away from our mistakes and say we didn’t have control over what we did. That won’t help us or the people we’ve hurt.
The truth is that once you get into recovery, you do have control and you have control now with what you do to make things right. You can’t continue in a lifestyle of denying realities any longer; not if you want to be sober.
Showing That You Are Different
To most people, it won’t matter what your reasoning was for hurting them. Despite your efforts to defer the behaviors to your addiction, relationships won’t be repaired until you accept the responsibility. Many people are going to sit back and watch your recovery to see if you are changing.
This is your chance to make your wrongs right.
When you take responsibility for things you’ve done that have hurt others, you can also let them know that it was because of your addiction. An appropriate response would be something along the lines of, “I know that when I did this to you, it hurt. I am sorry for the pain that I’ve caused you. Please understand that if I hadn’t been an addict, I wouldn’t have chosen to do that to you. I apologize for the harm and will work to make it right with you.”
You are simply acknowledging that you understand how they feel. By doing this, you show them that their feelings are important to you and you want to work to make a better relationship with them.
Keep in mind that many of these people have heard you say, “I’m sorry,” before. They’ve often been frustrated with you as you apologized and then hurt them again. Most likely, they aren’t going to simply let it all go based on another apology.
You will need to prove yourself to them.
Making amends is going to be an important part of your recovery. It is an essential aspect of staying sober and living a healthy life. Please remember though that amends should only be made under the advisement of a sponsor and in due time. Making appropriate amends should not be done immediately after you have gotten sober, as other steps need to be taken first. That is why making amends comes in the 9th step and not the 1st or 2nd.
Simply telling people that your addiction made you do it might make you feel better for a little, but it won’t help. If you don’t own the actions you’ve done in the past and forgive yourself for them, you will end up right back in the addiction.
Here are some basic guidelines to help you make appropriate amends:
- Work closely with a sponsor or trusted person during this process. You will need the additional support.
- Take a complete inventory of the damage you’ve caused to others. In this list, you want to also write down how you are going to prevent hurting them in the future.
- Go to the person and express your desire to repair this damage. Explain that you understand how they must feel and then listen to them. This might be painful, but it is important to show you care.
- Admit your part and own the mistakes. Don’t blame it on your addiction.
- Find a way to remedy the hurts. This could take some creativity on your part. For example, if you killed someone while drinking and driving, you may want to volunteer for an organization against drunk driving. You could also become an organ donor or do some speaking engagements on the dangers of drunk driving.
- Be patient with those you’ve hurt. It could take time for them to trust you again. Don’t get upset with them when they are cautious around you. You would probably feel and act the same way if the roles were reversed. Give them the time they need to heal and be willing to work hard to regain their respect.
If you are wondering if you are a bad person, the clear-cut answer is no! Addiction is an insidious disease that controls your mind and actions. Despite that, it is still your responsibility to make your wrongs right again. This takes honesty, hard work and determination, but you can do it! You are strong. One day at a time you are learning how to defeat addiction and this is just an additional step you will take on the journey.
Contact Clearbroook Today
If you or someone you know and love is currently struggling with alcoholism and/or drug addiction, help is available.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing the highest quality of drug and alcohol services to those suffering from chemical dependency. By offering a full medical detox and customized treatment programming, you will have the opportunity to experience a level of care that cannot be matched.
If you are ready to change your life, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. We are available 24 hours a day to assist you in all of your needs.