The Effects of Resentments in Addiction, Recovery, and Families

Resentment. It’s perhaps the emotion that’s most significant in addiction and recovery. Resentments are negative feelings that you can’t let go of and that you replay in your mind often. We feel resentment when we think we’ve been wronged by someone, and those feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment, etc. don’t go away; they turn into resentments.


Resentments in Addiction

Most – if not all – addicts feel resentment toward someone. Those persistent negative feelings can drive a person to use drugs or alcohol as a means of escaping and feeling better. Of course, “feeling better” is only temporary. When someone tries to self-medicate to deal with strong resentments, they can quickly become addicted to drugs or alcohol. They can’t let go of their resentments, but they’ve found that they can continually cover up those emotions with drugs.

Resentments in Recovery

When a person quits using drugs or alcohol, their feelings of resentment will return, and they may even have new resentments, such as resentment toward the person who convinced them to enter treatment. The difference is that now they have to deal with those resentments another way, and if they don’t, they will eventually resort to drugs or alcohol again, or they will be a “dry drunk.” Recovery should feel good, but resentments are big hurdles to cross.

Resentment in Families

Resentment is also an emotion that can have the longest-lasting negative impact on a relationship, and it is impossible to repair a “broken” relationship without both partners addressing their resentments toward each other. Addiction can cause particularly poignant feelings of resentment within relationships and families. The families of addicts may feel resentment toward the addict for causing them to have so many bad experiences and emotions. In addition to any prior resentments, addicts in recovery often develop feelings of resentment toward family members, like if they think their family is too distrustful of them.

Overcoming Resentments

Resentments are addictive feelings, and they are toxic. In order to overcome resentments, you need to acknowledge exactly what they are. Writing down your feelings can really help. The fourth step of AA – a moral inventory – is meant to tackle resentment. You need to find peace with the fact that you cannot change the past and that you cannot control the actions of others. You must realize that resentments serve no purpose but to hurt you and hold you back, and feeling resentment does nothing but allow the person who hurt you to continue inferring with your life.

It is very difficult to deal with resentments, and for some it can take a long time. Counseling and therapy can help a lot. Addiction fellowships can also offer needed support. In fact, AA considers resentment “the number one offender,” and working the 12 steps is a means of overcoming it.

There are so many emotions that come in early recovery for both addicts and their families. If they aren’t dealt with, feelings of anger, sadness, and disappointment can turn into more resentments. You must learn to let go of your resentments – not for the person who hurt you or anyone else, but for yourself.

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  1. Naomi says

    I would have had a year in November but used opiates for one weekend and had one drink a week after that. I just came up on 30 a few days ago. I’ve been writing really hard this time. But I keep on having dreams about drinking and in each dream the worst possible things happen. I think they are helping me to see that drinking will just end in disaster. I do wake up feeling guilty but also grateful that I didn’t actually drink once I realize it was only a dream. Helps to remind me that nothing good comes from drinking or using.

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