Finding forgiveness for an addict

Learn about: Finding forgiveness for an addict from David Sheff,...
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Finding forgiveness for an addict

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When you have somebody in your family who is addicted, when you have a child who is addicted, they traumatize you. You spend years. I spent years feeling just baffled, overwhelmed. How could my son do this to me? How could he do this to his little brother and sister? And so, besides trying to help him, to try to save his life, besides trying to manage my own life, there was this confusion and also this anger. I was really mad at him. And even when he would go into treatment and he would better for a while, I didn´t trust it because he is so often relapsed. So I didn´t trust it. I was mad at him. I was enraged sometimes, but then over time because of a lot of therapy, my own therapy, and also being in family groups at rehab treatment centers, I started to understand this idea that my son was ill. He had a brain disease. And suddenly, I started to understand that he wasn´t doing this to me, he wasn´t doing this to his little brother and sister. He was sick. He wouldn´t have done these things to me. I mean I know he loved me. I knew he loved his little brother and sister. He had a mental illness. Once I was able to shift my thinking and to really understand that, then I was able to. It wasn´t even about forgiveness at that point. It was that I no longer blamed him, and I was able to look at him instead of with anger, I was able to look at him with compassion. And then, I realized that all I had to do, that all my efforts had to be the same as it would if he had another disease, to get him the best doctors, the best treatment programs and to get him well.

Learn about: Finding forgiveness for an addict from David Sheff,...

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David Sheff

Writer

David Sheff is the author of Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, the follow-up to his New York Times #1 bestseller, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s AddictionClean is the result of the years Sheff spent investigating the disease of addiction and America’s drug problem, which he sees as the greatest public-health challenge of our time.

Beautiful Boy was based on Sheff’s article, “My Addicted Son,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine and won an award from the American Psychological Association for “outstanding contribution to the understanding of addiction.”  It was named the nonfiction book of the year by Entertainment Weekly.  

Named to the Time 100, Time Magazine’s list of the World’s Most Influential People, Sheff also won the 2013 College of Problems on Drug Dependence Media Award. Sanjay Gupta, MD, said, "As a clear-eyed chronicler of addiction, David is without peer.”

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