How to Forgive an Alcoholic
Understanding the Disease of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a chronic disease that is characterized by engaging in alcohol consumption at an excessive amount or consistent basis and it can be difficult to learn how to forgive an alcoholic. It is defined as a chronic disease as it tends to progress over a period of time and continues to develop and worsen the longer your alcohol abuse goes on. The more your alcohol abuse progresses, the more you become tolerant and dependent on alcohol to function leading to addiction to alcohol that can be challenging to overcome on your own.
While it is clear that alcohol addiction will have significant impacts on the person engaging in alcohol abuse, it is important to remember that alcohol addiction impacts the alcohol abuser and loved ones that are around you. As you experience physical and mental health impacts from your alcohol consumption, loved ones will experience stress and worry as they witness their friends or family experience the damages and impacts that alcoholism can have. Oftentimes, individuals with an alcohol addiction will experience conflict with their loved ones due to mistrust in the relationship, secretive behaviors, and irrational behaviors that can occur resulting in discord within relationships. To effectively treat alcohol addiction, the alcohol abuser must undergo individual therapy sessions and family therapy methods to treat the underlying cause of addiction while working towards mending the relationships between loved ones.
How Alcoholism Impacts a Person Physically and Emotionally
Engaging in alcohol abuse causes significant impacts on a person’s physical and emotional health. After consuming alcohol consistently for a prolonged period of time, your body will begin to experience health concerns directly resulting from alcohol consumption. Alcohol addiction will often increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and liver disease, which can progress to liver failure as your alcohol consumption progresses. As your major organs continue to be damaged from alcohol consumption, it increases the risks for serious complications that can ultimately lead to alcohol-related deaths if not treated through an addiction treatment program.
Alcohol addiction impacts a healthy body and physical functioning and can also impact a person’s overall mental health state and functioning the longer alcohol abuse continues. Alcohol is considered to be a depressant substance that works on your central nervous system to depress regular functioning. The depressant reactions from alcohol can increase the risks of exacerbating or creating serious mental health concerns. Many alcoholics will experience feelings of depression or anxiety as a result of their drinking behavior. Many will turn to alcohol abuse as a method of coping when experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, or the onset of panic attacks. While there may feel like there is momentary relief from the harsh side effects of these mental health symptoms, the truth is that the use of alcohol will often create a cycle of poor mental health functioning and addictive behaviors as you continue to attempt to treat your mental health condition by self-medicating with alcohol. During an alcohol treatment program, patients will be provided with evidence-based therapy methods that will support them in healing from their underlying cause of addiction while developing the tools to manage any co-occurring mental health disorders through natural, holistic methods that will keep them away from turning to alcohol as a way to self medicate.
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Why Family Therapy Matters
During your active addiction to alcohol, you are aware of your addiction’s impact on your own life. However, addiction is a disease that has a ripple effect on those loved ones that are around you. As your loved ones witness how alcohol addiction wreaks havoc on your day-to-day life, they want to do what they can to support you but experience pushback as you want to isolate yourself from others during your addiction. Alcohol abuse will often cause individuals to behave in ways that are out of the normal such as engaging in verbal or physical altercations, lying or stealing from loved ones, and losing connection with each other as they attempt to hide their alcohol addiction from those around them.
Family therapy is a crucial aspect of any alcoholic’s healing journey. To have long-term success in addiction treatment, you must be able to surround yourself with people that have your best interests at heart and will help hold you accountable to your goals of remaining in addiction recovery. Before turning to your loved ones for support, you must acknowledge the hurt that your loved ones may have experienced during active alcohol addiction. Family therapy allows each family member to process the emotions that have occurred and engage in conflict resolution to put any previous mistrust and conflicts in the past. Families can establish new trust and boundaries with one another to ensure that each person shares the same vision of remaining sober and holding each other accountable to the boundaries, roles in the familial unit, and commitments to the recovery process.
7 Steps You Can Take to Forgive an Alcoholic
Watching a loved one engage in alcohol abuse and experiencing some hurtful or painful behaviors from your loved one can raise questions about how you can forgive them and move on with your relationship. Your experiences and emotions are valid, and the forgiveness process does not discount your own experiences for what you have gone through. There are steps you can take that will validate your personal experiences while beginning the process of relieving yourself of the burden of grudges and moving forward in the relationship with a new foundation of trust and support for each other that is mutual.
The following are steps you can take to begin the process of forgiving an alcoholic:
- Understanding that alcohol addiction is a disease that must be treated
- Releasing any guilt or feelings of responsibility for your loved one’s addiction. You did not cause your loved one to become an alcoholic.
- Process and release any feelings of anger. Anger is an emotion that limits your ability to feel happiness and is ineffective in healing.
- Eliminate the feelings of hurt and pain that you have been feeling and start fresh on a new path toward happiness and stability
- Write a list of all of the reasons why you love the person with alcohol addiction. Reminding yourself of who your loved one is to you outside of their addiction
- Inform your loved one of your love for them and speak your emotions to them about their addiction has impacted and hurt you
- Saying “I forgive you.” This is not meant to forget about what has happened or invalidate your experiences. It is simply providing you an opportunity to release the negative impacts that this has had on your life and granting you the ability to move forward.
Commit to Treatment at Muse
Muse Treatment Center offers a comprehensive treatment program for individuals living with active alcohol addiction. We understand that addiction goes beyond impacting only the alcoholic. Families need support throughout this healing process. That is why patients are provided with an individualized alcohol treatment plan that is centered around their unique needs for healing and offering loved ones the opportunity to process and heal from the impacts of alcoholism within the family. Our whole-person integrated approach to healing will support patients and their loved ones with a treatment program that will heal patients physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually from the depths of addiction. Your road to recovery can start now. Call us at (800) 426-1818 today to begin your recovery journey.