What do you do when someone you love has an addiction and needs your help?
“Hey, I’m struggling to pay some bills and need some spare cash?” they ask. Or, “Do you think you could help me out just this one time?”
As a Christian, you want to help. You want to be that light, that love.
But how much help is too much? When does helping become enabling?
Enabling, in the context of us and the addict we love, simply means that we give the struggling addict what (s)he needs to fuel their addiction by trying to help.
And there is a danger to enabling an addict. What happens is that (s)he gets worse because (s)he has the means to fuel the addiction. We feel lied to and taken advantage of. The addict wants more fuel for the addiction so (s)he manipulates us to get it. We feel guilty for “not helping” and the negative emotions make us uncomfortable. So, we try to “help” to ease the pain/guilt. The cycle repeats itself. And both parties lose....
Addiction is a very real problem that hurts many people. The addict, his or her family, and extended friends suffer along with the person struggling with the addiction. And, unfortunately, many of those loved ones feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness?
Have you ever asked yourself, “What can I do to help?” Have you ever said that nothing you do works? If so, you may be struggling to figure out how to help a recovering addict to overcome the addiction that is hurting you and your family so deeply.
The truth is that you can help. The situation is not hopeless. And there are several things you can do to support the person battling an addiction and help him or her to overcome the struggle. Let’s look at 3 ways you can help.
1. Believe FOR the Person that Hope Is Possible
Just as you feel hopeless, so too does the person you love who is struggling with the addiction. (S)he feels as though it is impossible to overcome. And (s)he must believe that there is in...
Figuring out how to help a recovering addict can be a daunting task. Where do you start? What do you say? Will the situation ever change?
The truth is that there are many people who have helped their loved ones to recover and are now enjoying a better life with them. So, what can you do to help? Let’s explore the #1 most important thing you can do to get involved and get results.
Introduce Them to a New Social Circle
Our social circle is basically the places we go and the people we associate with. And we tend to find the people and places that are most like us, the ones we are comfortable with. Thus, addicts tend to form friendships with other users and frequent the same places as those users. So, overcoming an addiction is not just about no longer using or drinking. It is about revamping the entire social circle. But how does an addict just drop all of that and make new associations? In most cases, (s)he doesn’t. And that’s where you come in.
Do you remember coming home from school in 4th grade and telling your parents you needed a particular brand-new pair of $130 shoes? “Why do you need that?” your Mom responded. “Because,” you said, “everyone is wearing them.”
And that’s when she hit you with the question that somebody’s great-great-great-grandmother invented. “Well, if everyone jumps off a bridge are you going to jump too?”
True or true? At some point in your life, somebody has asked you that question.
But do we ever stop to think about the wisdom behind that question?
The point is that just because everyone does or says something doesn’t mean it’s right.
So, what in the world does that have to do with how to help a recovering addict?
What you are about to read could be the single, most important piece of understanding that will help you to help the person you love recover from their addiction.
So, what are we talking about?
WOOT WOOT! A loved one who is an addict has entered a treatment program and is officially in recovery. Now what? What do you say? What do you not say? Are the right words that important? What about family functions? Can champagne still be served at celebrations? What about inviting them over for the big game? Is it okay to have a beer in their presence? What about that leftover pain medication in the bathroom closet? Life with a recovering addict may seem filled with all sorts of tricky navigation. Here are some helpful suggestions.
Words DO Matter: Yes, there are all the right things that you should say. But there are also some things that you shouldn't say.
Do say things that are:
Addicts, even recovering addicts, have harder demons to face than most people do. Recovery can be a lifelong battle for some, and it's one that many people fight (and many lose) alone.
Having a recovering addict in the family can be one of the most trying experiences this life has to offer, but those with the right tools can help their loved one overcome any seemingly insurmountable obstacle. Here are three things you can do to help save the life of a loved one afflicted by drug addiction:
1. Be Attentive
Learn to recognize the signs of someone in recovery falling back into addiction. Be aware of the changes in behavior and mood that you might recognize from their past as an addict. Be mindful of any major changes or setbacks in their lives, such as the loss of a job or the end of a relationship. Even the stress of a positive change, such as moving into a new home, can set someone on the course to relapse. The most shocking drug-related deaths are ones of people who were...
"I'm only hurting myself," a constant refrain of addicts, contains a huge lie. A more truthful statement would be, "Not only am I hurting myself, but I'm also ruining my family. I'm inflicting harm on my children, and there's a good chance my spouse will leave me."
The truth might sound like this: "I am causing my parents more pain than they have ever experienced. They cannot count on me. I break their hearts. They spend a lot of energy and money getting me out of trouble. They're worried about my future more than I am. It's causing stress on their marriage and causing harm to my brothers and sisters."
Deep down the addict is aware the addiction is ruining his or her family, but users are excellent at self-delusion.
An Honest Addict
If you are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, or anything else, here is what should replace the lie of "I'm not hurting anyone":
"My addiction is ruining my family. My family cannot count on me to do what I say I'm going to do. My word...
We say empathy is a bridge, a bridge that can connect us at some of our greatest moments of hurt and disappointments.
It’s certainly been useful in my life in relating to people.
Through the course of my life and in helping those bound with drugs and alcohol I’ve had to cross the bridge of empathy many times.
It’s been the reoccurring theme that has allowed me to step right into lives of those that have made the biggest mess of their circumstances.
It’s been the theme that has allowed me to be able to look at someone over and over and say with a full heart and much compassion “I Understand.”
In saying that “I Understand,” it’s not even that I have experienced every failure or every struggle of those I have helped. It’s that I only can say I understand what it means to fail, know what it's like to hurt, and our pain may be different, it's still suffering, and I am here.
The reality here is that our empathy is a precious gift...
Enabling a drug addict means you’re doing things that help an addicted individual continue addictive behaviors.
This is a nice logical, tidy definition, stated in such a way that no logical, right-minded individual would ever enable an addicted friend or loved one.
Before we get to parent-shaming, friend-shaming, sibling-shaming, or any other type of shaming and unfair judgment toward others, however, it’s important to note that dealing with an addict, especially a family member or close friend, involves a lot of emotion–love, fear, guilt, more guilt, and even more guilt–and not a lot of logic.
After all, it’s only natural to “help” someone you love by giving them money for food or providing them a place to sleep or not reporting their behavior to authorities. Quite often the enabler convinces himself that he is helping.
The Dangers of Enabling
Enabling prolongs the addiction and prevents the addict...
6 Suggestions for How to Deal with a Drug Addict in Your Family
The damaging effects of drug addiction go beyond just the addict. Addiction comes with an emotional, psychological, and financial cost to those close to the addict as well. There are things, however, loved ones can do to protect themselves and help the addict regain control of his or her life.
Practical Steps on How to Deal with a Drug Addict
Educate yourself Treatment options vary depending on the drug being abused. Start with reputable websites. Find local resources in your area. The more you understand about the complexities of drug addiction, the more you'll be able to discuss the problem with people who matter. Part of your education should be geared toward finding experts who can help.
Find support groups. There's more to overcoming an addiction than visiting a doctor and having him or her fix the problem. It requires short-term and long-term support. Support groups consist of others struggling...