Supporting A Loved One Struggling With Addiction
God created us to live in relationship with others and it is a beautiful thing. That is, until you discover someone you love has an addiction. The pain of watching a loved one tormented by addiction, and the impact of that stronghold on your relationship, can be agonizing. Whether their dependency is physical or behavioral, their addiction is not a bad problem – it’s a bad solution. It is simply a method of escape from the real issue. What can you offer to help support them?
Your loved one is made in the image of God and, therefore, has infinite worth, regardless of their behavior. Though your loved one has made some bad choices, that does not make them a bad person. Addiction does not define a person. No one asks to be an addict. It is a psychological and physical condition that alters a person’s brain chemistry. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8)
Take Action: Speak lovingly when addressing the addicted individual and sharing your concerns or needs.
Not Unconditional Relationship
Many people erroneously think that unconditional love means there are no consequences for breaches of trust and destructive behavior. God is the greatest example to the contrary. He loves each of us unconditionally. But there is no relationship with Him apart from His terms. And, the Bible is abundantly clear about the consequences of choices outside of His plan for our lives.
In most cases, there is nothing wrong with researching and conveying recovery resources to your addicted loved one. But you cannot force them to seek that help. If they choose not to, you may need to lovingly detach from this individual until they demonstrate a change of heart AND behavior. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8)
The best thing you can do is to practice good self-care and determine what parameters you need when relating to this individual. You do not have to allow yourself to be put in situations that may jeopardize your well-being.
Take Action: Set healthy boundaries with appropriate consequences that are designed to keep you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually safe.
The road of recovery from addiction is long and hard. Addicts and their loved ones often struggle with discouragement and feelings of hopelessness. Words of hope and encouragement can be like a breath of fresh life to them. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
Take Action: Celebrate the small victories and remind your loved one that, with God, all things are possible.
It can be a lonely road for an addict and their loved ones. But it doesn’t have to be. Find a safe person with whom you can share your struggles. Look to your church family for encouragement and prayer. Find a national or local community support group to find others walking through the same types of issues.
Take Action: Join a support group and build your support network.