When lost to addiction, you often hurt the ones you love. In recovery and aftercare programs, you will have the chance to show thanks to those who stood by you. Not only can it bolster your relationships with others, but it can also improve your relationship with yourself. \u201cAddiction, at its core, is a constant perception of unmet needs, so being appreciative or grateful is a foundational shift that opens the door to new, positive emotional experiences,\u201d says Kenneth England, LMFT, primary therapist at Promises drug and alcohol rehab. \u201cThe process of thanking people who care can help in their healing and yours.\u201d Studies have shown that contemplating and expressing gratitude can improve your well-being. We asked experts to share their tips for thanking loved ones for their support in your darkest time: \tOffer a sincere apology. Saying sorry can show that you recognize you\u2019ve hurt them, accept responsibility and are willing to make a change. Studies show an apology that demonstrates empathy is the most powerful. \u201cApologies can help you grow as a person because they shed light on behaviors you are engaging in that are not helpful to you or others,\u201d says Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW, a New York based therapist specializing in substance abuse. \u201cWhen apologizing, recognize what your part was in the situation without blaming or even bringing up what the other person may have done.\u201d She says to avoid saying, \u201cI'm sorry but,\u201d or listing excuses as to why you behaved the way you did. \tListen and ask for feedback. Sometimes the best thank you is listening without getting defensive. \u201cHearing the other person out and what their needs are after you apologize will help bring awareness to your actions and avoid future arguments because you will think twice about reacting in a similar way again,\u201d says Hershenson. It is also important to ask the person you are apologizing to what you can do differently next time. \tMake amends. Following step nine of the 12 Steps is part of showing gratitude because it helps you focus on righting wrongs that occurred while in active addition. \u201cThe best way to thank your family for the support is through living amends and maintaining dedication and commitment to your recovery,\u201d says Rebecca Wilson, MS, primary therapist at The Ranch. She says in addiction, words like \u201cthank you\u201d and \u201cI\u2019m sorry\u201d can become meaningless, but this can be changed when the words are accompanied by actions that demonstrate you mean it.\u00a0 \tBe of service. In recovery and aftercare programs, being helpful is a way to show gratitude and also maintain your sobriety. \u201cEvery time I go home, my dad needs help around the house,\u201d says Wilson. \u201cAs a way to thank him for his support, I ask if there is anything he needs.\u00a0That way I am thanking him through actions.\u201d \tIndividualize restitution. Living amends is the ultimate restitution and thank you in the 12-step program, but each situation is unique. For example, \u201cif you neglected family members, you might choose to reach out to them weekly for the rest of your life,\u201d says Georgia-based recovery expert Ron Chapman, MSW. \u201cOr if you stole from them, you may go out of your way to gift to them in some way for as long as it seems appropriate.\u201d Sometimes this needs to reach beyond those who were harmed. \u201cSome people in recovery volunteer their time as a way of paying back by paying it forward,\u201d he says. This can include supporting others in recovery. \tShow up and reconnect. In active addiction, it\u2019s impossible to be there for others. \u201cI came from a good family and graduated from NYU, but I did a bag of dope in the morning the way some people drink coffee,\u201d says actress and producer Marisa Vitali, who created a film about her addiction called \u201cGrace.\u201d She says she\u2019s been living in recovery from heroin addiction for more than 15 years. \u201cFor me it was really integral that I reestablish a relationship with my family,\u201d she says. And that meant truly \u201cshowing up for them\u201d and being a fully present and helpful member of the family. \tAcknowledge them publically. It may help to have supportive friends present when you thank your loved ones and it can also be powerful to share your gratitude in front of others. \u201cBringing them to your 12-step program and giving them credit in front of your group is one option,\u201d says Wyatt Fisher, PsyD, a marriage and family therapist based in Colorado. \tWrite a letter. Sometimes it is hard to speak what is on your mind and it\u2019s helpful to write down your thoughts. \u201cTaking them out to dinner and reading them a letter expressing your heartfelt gratitude is another way to say thank you,\u201d says Fisher. If the person you need to thank is no longer in your life, a written communication is still an option. \u201cYou could write them a letter or email expressing your sincere gratitude for the role they played in your life,\u201d he says. \tPrioritize recovery. The best way to thank those who have stuck by you is to continue with your new behavior and recovery efforts, says Cyntrell Crawford, MD, a psychiatrist based in Pennsylvania who works with addiction issues. \u201cYou must continue with your recovery plan,\u201d she says. \u201cMonitor your daily habits and cravings. Stay in your support environments whether it is AA\/NA, therapy or continuing with your doctor. Don\u2019t go back to an environment that can put you at risk of using again.\u201d Most importantly, she says, if you happen to relapse, don\u2019t let shame stop you from getting help immediately. \tAccept other people\u2019s process. Fortunately, most of the people you want to thank have loved you or cared for you and they want to know how to support an addict in recovery. They want to see you healthy and happy. However, there will be times when friends or loved ones do not want to stay connected. \u201cYou can reach out to the person you have harmed and be willing to apologize,\u201d advises Crawford. \u201cBut if they are unwilling to allow you back into their life,\u00a0just acknowledge what you did, give a sincere apology and move on with your life and your recovery efforts.\u201d There are some people who will not respond immediately but will feel good about your apology at a later time. Live your best life, be helpful to others, and express gratitude through action whenever possible. Healing will follow.