Forgiveness and problematic substance use

Jon R. Webb, Bridget R. Jeter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


For over 75 years the process of (un)forgiveness has been anecdotally understood to play an important role in the Twelve-Step Model of addiction and recovery. However, only very recently have scholars begun to examine the empirical evidence in support thereof. Multiple dimensions and aspects of forgivingness (trait), state forgiveness, and problematic substance use are relevant to one another in the context of addiction and recovery. Models of the association between forgiveness and problematic substance use have been developed, including the conceptual identification of the process of (un)forgiveness as inherent to and/or consistent with evidence-based treatment modalities. Relevant empirical evidence is reviewed and of the 21 empirical studies in the published scientific literature, 90 % show a salutary association. Indeed, forgivingness of self may be the most important dimension of forgiveness for recovery. A future research agenda is proposed and implications for individual, public, and societal health are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationForgiveness and Health
Subtitle of host publicationScientific Evidence and Theories Relating Forgiveness to Better Health
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789401799935
ISBN (Print)9789401799928
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Addiction
  • Evidence-based treatment
  • Forgivingness
  • Health
  • Intervention
  • Literature review
  • Problematic substance use
  • Process models
  • Recovery
  • Twelve-step model


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