Loving an Addict
None of us ever plan on a loved one becoming an addict. We don’t go into friendships, relationships, marriages, or have children thinking “I better be prepared in case this person ends up with some bad habits.” So, when we find ourselves in just that position, it’s normal to not know what to do. In addition, the spiritual element causes us to see an enemy who wants to destroy our loved ones and allow chaos and confusion to take hold in our lives. So many of us have tried to help, wanted to be helped, and even in the deepest desperation to help, we see our best efforts fall flat (at best) or enable (at worst).
To understand deeper what it’s like to not only love an addict but what burdens may be brewing in your own soul due to this addiction, S2L Recovery spouse broke down four of the biggest lies that she believed while her husband was in his addiction and recovery.
1. I’m Not the One Who Needs Help
“What should I do at the meeting?” I asked awkwardly, “I mean since I’ve never struggled with being addicted drugs or alcohol?” With kindness and a little pity, the woman sitting across from me simply said, “Ask God to show you where your own hang-ups are.” Still feeling frustrated and nervous I completed my first group meeting. Not yet understanding co-dependency, and knowing that God was calling us to work with people who struggle with addictions, I sat down in a circle of women who were wanting to recover from chemical dependency.
Terrified that I would be found out as a “fake” I tried to avoid pointed questions and was cautious of over-sharing. However, what I learned from being in that group has forever changed me. I got to see the human side of addiction. I saw moms desperate to be reunited with their kids, women, who were willing to put in the hard work to become who God said they were – ladies who loved and laughed and cried and cared about each other. I did ask God to reveal to me where I needed to recover, and he used this group meeting to teach me about trusting Him with the people I care about.
Some of the Lord’s words that helped me discover what I needed to recover and heal include:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
He taught me that He is the one who works in their lives, it’s not my job to fix them or change them.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
He taught me that I wasn’t in control, and what a sweet blessing that really is.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
It’s easy to think we don’t need help, but that’s a lie that will keep us from healing and learning what we do need to do.
2. What I Say Doesn’t Matter
Anger, tears, apathy, manipulation, begging, and belittling are a few of the ways that we try to talk our loved ones out of their struggle. Words are a big deal to me. I say a lot of them, write a lot of them, and I take the words of others to heart (any other “Words of Affirmation” love-language people out there?). I love using thorough words to communicate my exact thoughts and feelings. When my boyfriend (now husband) started admitting little things about his new harmful habits, I was often at a loss for words. What should I say to encourage him to stop? What if my words push him away? How can I convey my concern and change his heart, but not lose him?
Fast-forward several years, we are newly wedded and I’m coming home to find him high-as-a-kite more often than not. My concern had turned to deep desperation. Sometimes anger spurred mean words and accusations. Sometimes hurt poured out tears and I would beg him to stop. I tried threats, I tried to shame him, I tried anything I could think of to pierce his heart. It wasn’t until I decided to turn it over to God and to really trust Him, that I began to see any change.
I know the power of words well, so I turned my efforts into a firm, but kind approach. I took the words I poured onto my husband and started to pour them out to God in prayer. Instead of begging my husband to stop, I started begging God to move. Instead of crying to get my way, I was crying to my Heavenly Father, who loves me and holds me.
Some words that helped me heal and move:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)
Instead of anger and belittling, I started treating my husband with respect. Not because he was worthy of it on his own merits, but because God calls me to do it out of my love for Him.
“Respect each other out of your reverence for Christ. For wives, this means to respect your husbands as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:21-22 (NLT)
Prayer made all the difference. How I spoke to my husband and to the Lord changed everything.
3. I Can’t Tell Anyone Else
One of the most common lies I’ve seen loved ones of an addict believe is that we can’t share with anyone because “they won’t understand.” Ecclesiastes states, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Understand that nothing we are going through is new, many others have gone through these struggles, too. The enemy wants us to feel alone, isolated, and secretive. The enemy wants us to believe that our loved one will never forgive us. However, if we reach out, if we tell someone what’s going on, then we might hear the two best words – “Me too.”
God created us in His image to be relational. We were never supposed to walk through life without support and accountability. When we find a person we can trust and we share what we are going through, we create an ally in the fight. We have someone to pray for us, someone to check in on us, who asks about things and someone who will keep us accountable for how we handle situations, struggles, and life.
Another healing verse from Ecclesiastes that helped me through my loved one’s addiction is:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)
4. It’s Hopeless
The biggest lie, and perhaps worst lie, that Satan can lead us to believe is that our loved one’s situation, that our situation is hopeless. When we believe that things are hopeless, we give up. We stop praying, stop caring, and we stop seeking help. We may write our struggles off, we may block them out, we may detach from the world, all in an effort to stop our pain. We may feel depressed or anxious, always anticipating the next big disaster.
When we started visiting St Kitts to prepare for our move there, we would share with people we met why God was sending us to their country. We would talk about starting recovery programs to help people with addictions. Multiple times residents responded with the typical, “Oh, don’t bother to help the adults here. The adults here are hopeless.” You could clearly see how hopelessness had affected the culture. There were no drug and alcohol recovery programs, no help for anyone beyond detoxing in the hospital. If you truly believe something is hopeless, then you give up in believing that things will ever change. Having hope means everything in this journey. The best way to find enlightening hope for our loved ones is by having faith that God can do anything. He can give back true light and hope to those feeling such loss and darkness.
Words of hope:
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
”I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NLT)
Living Beyond the Lies
Please note that the lies we endure on this journey is infinite and goes beyond this list. Many of our perspectives are skewed from lies that we have believed most of our lives. How we have learned to cope with our pain or what the world around us tries to sell as truth may be masking the path to fulfillment and healing. The best way to defeat the lies is by knowing what God says, what the real truth is.
If you are in the midst of loving someone who is struggling with an addiction, then get into the Word of God. Open your bible every day and ask God to speak His truth to you. Just like light drives out the darkness, the truth of God will drive out the lies. The way S2L Recovery leads addicts to sobriety is through a Christian faith-based program, allowing everyone walking on the road to recovery can be embraced the words and love of God.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)
If you or a loved one needs help, please contact us for support and guidance.