Addiction can be massively hurtful and deeply devastating—not just to your own life, but to the lives of those around you. It can cause you to say and do things that you later regret, and often it can leave a trail of broken promises and hurt feelings. It is little wonder that many individuals who enter addiction recovery struggle with guilt—specifically guilt for the ways they have harmed their loved ones.
As such, a key part of the recovery process is making amends. Take steps to show you’re sorry and to try to set things right with those you have wronged.
Some specific suggestions:
- Always start by acknowledging the hurt you’ve caused. Don’t offer a generic apology. Specify what you did wrong and how it impacted your loved one. Make it clear that you grasp the gravity of the situation and are aware not just of your own actions, but of their consequences.
- Don’t make excuses and don’t blame it on your addiction. Own up to it—but also realize that your loved ones know what you have been going through, and a sincere effort to make amends will very likely result in forgiveness and understanding.
- If possible, make direct amends. This means repairing things you broke, returning money that you borrowed or stole—basically, doing what you can to put things back to the way they were.
- You may find that indirect amends make more sense. To use an extreme example, you may have caused an accident that caused someone to lose a limb. You cannot replace that limb, but you can sign up to become an organ donor—in their honor.
Finally, make it clear that you’re making significant, long-term changes to your own life and behavior—ensuring that the issues you caused won’t become issues again.