5 Ways to make Amends for Past Mistakes

5 Ways to make Amends for Past Mistakes

When recovering addicts must make amends, ask for forgiveness

In a 2004 edition, Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews explains that the neurobiological mechanisms behind addiction impair social skills, lead to obsessive compulsions and decrease occupational proficiency. Similarly, 2011’s Current Psychiatry Reports notes that addiction-related brain atrophy introduces dysfunction into motivational hierarchies and decision-making. The loss of behavioral and intake control can alienate loved ones, strain relationships, compromise finances and increase the risk of job loss, accidents and legal consequences. Many addicts lose their jobs, homes and families due to the physical, mental and emotional choke-hold inflicted by substance abuse. The mistakes made during an addiction can be significant, and the people who endure the most harm tend to be addicts’ loved ones. Recovering addicts must learn to forgive themselves for mistakes, and part of that process involves making amends.

Prioritize Sobriety and Citizenship

One of the best ways to make amends for mistakes is simply to get better. In a 2007 edition, The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment defines addiction recovery as a “voluntarily maintained lifestyle characterized by sobriety, personal health and citizenship.” Several key concepts in the definition serve as measuring sticks for recovery. Voluntary sobriety is certainly the headlining characteristic of recovery, but individuals should also prioritize physical and mental health as well as citizenship (development of social and community ties). Likewise, the term “lifestyle” reinforces the idea that recovery is a path, not a destination, so sobriety entails continuous care. Many addicts break promises regularly, even though their promises were likely sincere; if the amends involve family and close friends, a quantifiable measure of growth must be shown before recovering addicts have chances to connect with others.

Ask for Forgiveness

When recovering addicts must make amends, ask for forgiveness, but how you do so is equally important as asking in the first place. Several tips can help you seek forgiveness in positive ways: first, make sure the timing for the apology is good, and request to meet in person. Next, be clear about your intention to apologize from the beginning, and decide what you want to say in advance. Take responsibility for what occurred, and do not blame any other person, situation or issue. Even if other factors played a role in the addiction or harm, shoulder the blame and leave it to the injured party to accept the other factors. When asking for forgiveness, remain self-aware of body language, tone and attitude, and maintain eye contact. Likewise, it is generally a good idea to avoid words like “you,” “I thought,” “I tried” and “I think.” Make the apology clear and simple, allow the listener time to vent and avoid becoming defensive or making excuses. Just apologize, take responsibility and ask for forgiveness.

Ask How to Make Amends

In addition to making personal changes and asking for forgiveness, recovering addicts can ask how to make amends. If the listener refuses to meet, it might be appropriate to communicate through an intermediary, such as your recovery sponsor. If your loved one will not or cannot recommend how to make amends, create lists of acts that might ease the pain. For instance, for stolen money, unpaid loans or damaged property, propose payment plans or other means of compensation; if the mistake involved inflicting physical or emotional abuse, then participate in a related support group that complements the addiction recovery meetings. In some cases, it might take time before people forgive you, but recovering addicts must not allow that to translate into guilt and shame.

Help Others

At first, your loved one might not want to forgive you, so you must honor those wishes. In such scenarios, the alternative option can be to help other people in problems related to your offense. This approach relates to the idea of recovery citizenship, but the goal is to help people who serve as surrogates for the individual you actually affected. Likewise, do such deeds without throwing it in your loved one’s face: make your help a sincere effort, and it will heal your soul and produce opportunities to make amends directly with your close relationships.

Teach How to Forgive a Recovering Addict

Many offended parties might be unable to forgive an addict even if he is in recovery, but forgiving an addict is often an important step in healing both sides. For recovering addicts, forgiveness from others helps them forgive themselves, while it helps loved ones move past anger, resentment, anxiety and bitterness. Ergo, recovering addicts can help make amends by discussing ways to forgive, which starts by explaining that forgiveness is not denying anger, eliminating consequences, excusing bad behavior, forgetting what happened nor even reconciliation. Forgiveness means recognizing that the recovering addict accepts responsibility for his harmful behavior and hopes to have an opportunity (now or in the future) to make amends. Forgiveness might not restore the relationship, but, if it does in some measure, then the relationship might involve boundaries and conditions. Accept the opportunities for forgiveness that someone offers while understanding how forgiveness benefits all parties.

Addiction and Recovery

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