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Learning to Forgive Yourself in Treatment

The road to recovery is bound to be filled with ups and downs from early on in an opioid treatment program and further down the line. This is a normal aspect of overcoming opioid use disorder, and bumps along the way are to be expected, rather than seen as signs of failure or inability to move forward to achieve recovery goals. While medication-assisted treatment addresses the chemical dependency of addiction and substance use counseling deals with the psychological end, patients will face a significant amount of self-reflection during their journey.

Dealing with Negative Feelings

One of the most challenging aspects patients in an opioid treatment program may face is coping with feelings of guilt and regret, among other difficult emotions. This is a standard part of the process once the brain has begun to rebuild with the help of MAT, giving patients the capacity to deal with the more complex dynamics of healing from addiction. Those in treatment must start to learn to handle these sometimes overwhelming feelings to advance towards their recovery aspirations and handle potentially sensitive triggers that could lead to relapse.

  • Accepting the past. For many patients, substance misuse became their sole focus as addiction began to take a firm grip over their lives. It’s crucial for them to accept that this period of their lives is irreversible. Accepting that opioid use disorder is a chronic condition, just like any other serious illness, is a crucial step towards self-forgiveness.

  • Self-actualization. Someone with substance use disorder often deals with a lot of shame and stigma from others, but the disease of addiction isn’t a reflection of that person’s morals, values, beliefs, or character. Their actions while they were misusing substances are not indicative of their ability to accomplish many great things on their journey towards long-lasting recovery.

  • Making amends. As patients do more self-reflection through substance use counseling, they will begin to work on mending relationships that have been damaged due to addiction and behaviors and actions it influenced. This is a crucial step in self-forgiveness, and it opens up valuable communication between a patient and their loved ones, creating a robust support network along the way.

  • Feeling gratitude. For every negative emotion or mood a patient experiences, there is an antidote that can be derived through practicing self-compassion and gratitude. By looking back on the deepest lows and comparing those days to their current success and situation, patients are able to overcome any disparaging feelings about themselves and replace them with positive thoughts about their journey and bright future.

Self-forgiveness is part of the life-long recovery process from opioid use disorder and can sometimes be difficult for patients to achieve and maintain. With hard work in counseling and regular self-reflection, forgiveness can occur and give way to an even higher achievement level. Making self-forgiveness a goal during the journey towards healing can help patients mend their troubled relationships with others and themselves, setting them on the right path towards a future free of opioids and substance misuse.


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