Recovery

4 Lies we believe when loving an addict

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.

Why does addiction kill some and others recover?

As a man who has battled a horrible addiction to opiates and now, a pastor and director for an addiction recovery program, I have seen both sides of addiction and recovery. I have done funerals for men that were not any crazier, wilder, or riskier then I was. They died from doing the exact same thing I was doing when I lived a life of addiction. So, why did I survive and they didn’t or couldn’t?

I could try and explain these deaths by how some people receive laced drugs (like fentanyl-laced heroin) or have unknown medical issues (like cardiomyopathy) but I don’t feel as though that would explain the whole story. I don’t write these following words flippantly because this is an extremely hard topic for me to discuss. I have images of mother’s faces grimacing with the pain and sorrow that comes from burying their children burned in my mind. It’s not only the internal empathy ravaging my soul, but I have also lost people that I love to addiction, too.

The Question of Recovery

The question, “Why does addiction kill some and others recover?”, is a question that I cannot answer completely, or at least to everyone’s satisfaction. What I can say is that God is Sovereign and we are not promised tomorrow. I know, without a shred of a doubt, based on the authority of God’s word that people can and do recover from addiction.

I have to admit that early on my default position was to shake my fist at God and say why did you not save them? I would even get frustrated and ask God why would you call me to a ministry that is so littered with destruction? This just doesn’t seem right. God revealed to me through His word and other pastors that the feeling I had that, “this is not right”, is exactly what the Bible teaches. God created a perfect place where we could live in perfect unity with Him without the destruction of pain and death, however, something did go way wrong.

As you read the creation/fall account in Genesis 1-3, you see that God’s perfect creation was devastated by sin. That death and destruction entered into the world and a curse came upon the earth. We have all tasted the brokenness of a fallen world. I cannot blame Adam or Eve for this curse as a result of sin because I willingly participated in it.

The hope that I hold onto dearly is that God promises that one day all of this ends for the redeemed. God provides a way out of this darkness and destruction through Jesus. God says in James 1 that He can even use this pain and suffering to bring Him glory. He can use the seasons of trial to cause us to draw closer to Him and persevere.

God promises one day that the presence of sin will be removed for the redeemed. But he also makes promises for us here and now. God says that He will provide rest from the chaos. He promises that we can have true peace and joy when everything going on around us should cause the opposite. He tells us that we do not have to worry or be overwhelmed with anxiety. He promises that His children have victory over death, that death has no sting. Even through the funerals I have officiated for believers, I can rest assured that Jesus conquered death and one day we will all meet again.

The Takeaway

I hold steadfast to these promises made by God. They encourage me to faithfully bring the message of hope from the Gospel. God lays out in His word that we can have victory from the yokes of slavery and that includes the chains of addiction. When I read these truths I see that breaking the chains of addiction doesn’t have to be a mundane daily admittance of “I am an addict”. It’s actually the opposite. It is, “I am a bloodstained child of the Kingdom; I am made new and I am not defined by the wickedness of my past; I press on to know the Lord. I don’t claim to be perfect but I don’t look back and I press on toward the goal to which Christ called me.”

If someone you know is struggling with addiction then step in and have these hard conversations. Make it as hard as possible for them to stay in an addictive lifestyle and show them how easy it can be for them to walk into recovery. If you personally are struggling with addiction, please reach out and get help. The S2L Recovery program helps addicts throughout Middle TN and beyond to complete a faith-based recovery program. This drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center can be the catalyst to launch you into the “new creation” that God has called you to. So be bold and act. Press on brother or sister and behold your creator. What you behold is what you will become more like.

Closing Words of the Lord

“[16] So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. [17] For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18] as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV) 2 Corinthians 4:16-1

Trying to love an addict–”I couldn’t be his savior”

Our Story

Our story started early. It was sweet, passionate, and romantic. At just 16 and 17 years old, we were simply two teenagers experiencing love for the first time. Experiencing life and the freedoms that come from growing up a little bit at a time. It started slowly, then all at once it was everything we had ever wanted. We were certain that it was all we would ever want; all we would ever need. Today, the man whom still makes me catch my breath daily has been the one taking my breath away for the last 14 years. Most of those breath-stealing moments have been from joy and admiration, however, we walked through a season where the wind was knocked out of my lungs for a very different reason.

The Addiction

Just months after Aaron declared his love for me and his plans to marry me when we “grew up,” he was introduced to the enticing draw of drugs and alcohol. He had friends who partied on the weekends, got high to relax through the week, and yet still appeared to have it all together the rest of the time. These friends didn’t appear as the ones your parents and loved ones warn you about. They were friends from sports, friends from good families, and friends who made the honor roll. They were just normal people and it made their habits seem normal too. Aaron has told me that once he experienced his first high he knew that he wanted to feel that way as often as possible. It went from “just trying something out,” into a desperate need quickly. It rolled into a desire that wouldn’t be ignored. It led to doing whatever it took to feel that high, and for Aaron that was dealing drugs to the other kids at school. Before we had our 1 year anniversary of dating, Aaron was a drug-dealing, drug-addict and I had no idea what had changed him.

We didn’t attend the same school. All of Aaron’s friends, the parties and drugs were one part of his life, and he kept me, church, and his family in another world. I remember recognizing little things such as:

  • he wasn’t where he said he would be
  • he didn’t always keep his story straight
  • he was defensive and quick to deflect
  • quick to get angry

But I had given my heart to this boy and I decided to ignore the things I saw or quickly gave up after a question or two. If questioning his actions meant risking to lose him, I wasn’t willing to take that risk. If digging deeper into my suspicions meant exposing something that my parents would be upset about or that my friends would disapprove of, I wasn’t going to go there. What he thought of me, what everyone thought about me – that’s what I cared about most.

“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” – Luke 8:17

Well, sin has a way of always coming to the surface. There are points of my teenage years burned into my brain because sins were exposed. This was when everyone I knew found out I was having sex, Aaron finally confessed to using and selling drugs, friends gossiped about us, and life at home was unstable. These may be little marks in a line of wonderful memories, but they make an impression just the same. Aaron’s confession came at a point where the lying had become too much for him to keep up. Every carefully crafted story came crashing down all around Aaron as his secrets unraveled. He finally told his parents and me what really had been going on in his life. In my naivety, I thought “well, he loves me so I know he’ll quit.”

Loving me was not enough. And I learned it’s not to supposed to be! I couldn’t be his savior, nor was that ever my responsibility. I wish I could say I figured all of this out quickly, but that’s not the case. It took years and the Lord’s teachings and moving for me to understand my real roll in Aaron’s life.

The next several years were filled with ups and downs. As we grew up we would shift between Aaron hiding his habits to me joining in on them. The only constant thing was that I felt like I would die without him. I thought if I just tried hard enough, loved him well enough, begged him desperately enough that he would stop and put an end to this part of his life.

When the desperate begging and loving didn’t work, I decided to try to accept it and be okay with his decisions. After all, at this point, I had started partaking in the partying habits, too. Who was I to judge? Even though I hated the feeling of being high, but I’d take a hit and drink all night anyway, too. All my new “grown-up” work friends were doing the same thing as well. What would they think of me if I acted cool about it in front of them, but then didn’t join in or got upset if Aaron did? To not be liked, to be looked down on, to be pushed away, or to have someone change their mind about me was the absolute worse thing that I could imagine.

In the midst of all of this, at just 20 and 21 years old, Aaron and I got married. We were still babies, but we knew that we were committed to each other forever. To be honest, I thought that marriage would be the key to change. I thought that somehow coming home from the honeymoon would make us magically transform into responsible people. It did not.

Our marriage pushed us to try and look like the couple we wanted to be. We started attending church more regularly and we even joined a newlywed’s small group. What started out as trying to just look good became, for me, a call back to my first love – Jesus. I didn’t change overnight, but my attitudes and desires slowly transformed. Aaron didn’t get there quite that fast.

In my own desire to assimilate into my new world at my job, I had inadvertently re-introduced Aaron to the drugs he had once tried to get away from, and now he was in as deep as ever. For the first time, I began to realize that I was helpless in helping to change the man I loved. All I could do was meet with the Lord, and pray and beg Him to move heaven and earth to save my husband from his addiction. I would come home and find Aaron high, I would find stashes hidden in cupboards, I would smell it on his clothes or in his hair. No amount of crying or nagging ever made a difference. But prayer? Prayer does incredible things! As I began to let go of control and hand it over to God, He began to change my husband.

The Rediscovery and Recovery

When we found out we were pregnant with our first child, a precious little girl, God helped my man see what kind of life we were on track to have; versus what kind of life we could have if we were living for God together. We both decided to seek the Lord, we surrounded ourselves with Christian friends. We quit going to our normal bars and stopped hanging out with friends who got high and drunk. We still loved them we just knew we couldn’t go out with them anymore. We started to admit and confess to other believers how we had been living. As God transformed our lives, we gained the confidence to share what he had done and continues to do for us daily.

Fast forward several years filled with a lot more learning and growing, we now have the immense privilege to serve in recovery ministry in the country of St. Kitts. God is redeeming our past mistakes and making something beautiful grow out of what used to be an ugly mess. In the verse John 10, John reminds us that while Satan wants to destroy us, God wants to give us full and abundant lives! I did a lot of things wrong while trying to love an addict. It’s my prayer that this story is a chance to help talk through those mistakes, and to point us back to how God calls us to love Him first. Let these words spark a path to allow Him to bring change for us and those we love.

S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee

This was another incredible story of God’s redemption and it belongs to my brother-in-law Adam Comer and his wife Katie Comer. Adam is now the pastor and CEO of S2L Recovery, a recovery lodge for men in Murfreesboro, TN. If you know a man who is ready to start his journey of recovery, please check out S2L Recovery. God has been moving at S2L and just this last month they were privileged to baptize 8 men who have committed themselves to Christ! We thank God all the time for what S2L did for Adam, and for what God is doing through Adam’s obedience now