We know that living with a family member who is an addict is very draining and stressful. Family members are being devastated by addiction. We know that you are exhausted and have exhausted so much emotion, energy and resources and are many times are at your wits end of what to do next. We will address some common things that we see families struggle with and hopefully address some relevant situation and needs that will help you.
In our experience we have found that there are not a lot of programs that are designed to specifically help families. Our nation has a lot of great rehabs, and jail /prison ministries. Also, because of the pervasiveness of addiction, many churches have established support groups. However, the resources and ministries available for the families of the addict are few and far between. It is our passion to give family members our prayers and support. Here are some suggestions and some resources to help.
LEAN ON GOD, AND PRAYER AND CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR SPIRITUAL, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH Just as the addict needs THE power greater than themselves, you also need His grace to strengthen and sustain you. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, and HE is close to the broken and crushed in spirit.
SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY: We all know deep down that we need support and community, we may feel like isolating but when we isolate our sense of aloneness increases. We do not need to bear our burdens alone, first of all the Lord wants to bear them (Matthew 11:25) and then he tells his followers to bear each other’s burdens.
Find a supportive community. The first place to start is in your local place of worship. Many have recovery ministries and it would be extremely beneficial for you to participate. These will provide you education and understanding of addiction and give you a supportive community.
GLEAN FROM YOUR PEERS: We would suggest you be willing to reach out to other family members of addicts and simply get together and glean from each other’s experiences as an exclusive community. There is no issue that you are facing even though you may be ashamed to talk about it, that is not common to all addicts and families of addicts. 1 Corinthians 10: 13 Says there is no test that is not common to all men, but God is faithful to help us escape.
LEARN ALL YOU CAN ABOUT ADDICTION: They say knowledge is power. Educate yourself on addiction and how it affects the brain. There are good resources to educate you at New Life, Hope and Healing Institute, Mental Health Gateway, Focus on The Family, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, and National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Look for the local Al Anon groups in your area. You can download the Meeting Guide or Meetings Finder app to find the nearest one. Also, you can talk to the officials, therapist or rehabs in your area and they can direct you to the groups that are available what is available in your area.
Second, When you find a local group in your area a good time to attend is when they are having, “Speaker Night.” This is important, so you can hear about the life and struggles of an addict and learn ways you can support your loved one and find some hope in the stories you hear.
If your loved one is in treatment make it a priority to participate in family groups and therapy. This is a great way to be around people who are like minded and in the same boat as you and you can identify with them and glean from their experience and subsequently support each other. It will benefit you to hear them share their stories and help you understand the struggles of your addicted loved one. They may be too ashamed or afraid to talk to you.
The best place is peers and also make it a priority to go to a group where they are having, speaker night
Don’t be timid about receiving soul care through, counseling and prayer. Prayer brings God’s strength, his presence and peace, and give you fresh perspective. Counseling is beneficial because in times of intense emotion exhaustion and stress, we need a professional to help us see things objectively and give us tools to manage our inner lives. Pastors and therapist can help our thinking when we have lost perspective due to being distracted or drained.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR YOURSELF, MAKE TIME TO REST, RECREATE AND EXERCISE:
If you don’t take of yourself who will. The stress is intense, and you need to be intentional to set aside time to manage it. Do something to get your mind off the issue, something that refreshes you and restores your energy. Eat right and exercise.
TELL OTHERS AND ADVOCATE
It is not your fault! However, as mentioned above, there may be issues in the family system that need to be addressed. It is important to know that many times addiction can be a symptom of an issue in the family. We want to build healthy families. Ephesians 5 18 and the following verses says it is important to put Christ first and make him Lord over your family. Christ wants all to be treated with love, honor and respect. This passage teaches that it is important to be totally under the control of the Holy Spirit. He must be in control, so we treat each other with love, respect, kindness and patience.
Healthy Communication and Conflict Resolution.
Misunderstanding, miscommunication, misperception, unresolved conflicts, emotional aloofness, abuse or a rigid environment can contribute to the addict wanting to avoid the uncomfortable situations or pain, by using drugs or alcohol to avoid or escape unpleasant situations. An individual in recovery has to own and take responsibility for their actions and choices to begin the process of sobriety. However, there is pain behind every addiction. This pain does not justify their behavior but understanding what is behind the behavior this is vitally important. The pain needs to be addressed and resolved. Many times, when a family member understands the chronic pain, they have more compassion and patience with the addict.
James 1:19–20 NKJV
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
To bring healing to your family, we must be willing to do things differently to get different results. It is very common for families not to have healthy communication. Be committed to learn to properly communicate and resolve conflict. The first thing is to properly and respectfully bring up an issue or concern. It is common in communication to curse, call names, belittle or attack. This is counterproductive because it puts the other on the defensive.
Know that the goal of good communication is to understand not agree, because there are things you may not agree on, but we can always agree to treat with respect. We can agree to keep the relationship harmonious. Do this by focusing on hearing, and not what you are going to say or what you think they are going to say. Assure your love for them and that you want to understand. Another thing that is important is to empathize. We all have issues and are prone to making mistakes. Validate their concerns and feelings – not whether you agree or not. When we focus on listening is shows that you care, and it has the potential to create intimacy and connection
SUPPORT YOUR LOVED ONE. It is of vital importance that you are involved in their rehab and treatment because of your vital role of support. Everyone needs nurture, encouragement and support. Just like babies and children to grow, they need to be cared for, not just thrown out there and fending for themselves.
Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 NKJV
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.
Galatians 6:1–2 NKJV
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Most family members truly want to support their loved one, but the lines of communication have broken down, and trust has been broken, and the cycle of hurt continues. We would highly advise to be committed to do whatever it takes for your loved one to bring their healing, support and restoration for your family. We advise that you love them unconditionally and be willing to make any change necessary to remove cues, triggers and temptations from your home and environment. One husband I know drank in front of his former alcoholic wife, another husband told me, his wife wanted a drink and I said, what did you do, and without hesitation he said, I gave it to her…. To the former I challenged him to love her enough to sacrifice alcohol and remove it from their home. To the latter I said, a better approach is, No, I love you too much to do that, let’s call your pastor, mentor, sponsor, or let’s go to church to receive counseling or prayer.
TOUGH LOVE VS. ENABLING
In my experience I have found tough love vs. enabling is very confusing. I hope I can address a balanced way to approach dealing with your addicted loved one. We need tough love when our loved ones are taking no initiative to change their situation. To do for them what they should be doing for themselves is called enabling. A friend in who treats addicts says, if you don’t confront, “you are killing them with kindness.” To keep them immune from consequences can keep them from learning and from being willing to change. Also, they need tough love if they are being destructive to themselves or to others, you have to step in and intervene.
Most individuals avoid confrontation at all cost…. But we have to see it as what I call, CARE-front. I care so much about your health and well-being I am going to be willing to confront you even if you get angry at me. I love you too much to allow you to continue to _________ I hate that I have to do this, but it is for your benefit.
To ignore it is to condone it Remember by you refusing to confront, you are hurting them Paul says, in 1 Cor 5 To PUNISH HIS FLESH FOR THEIR Ultimate good. Hebrews 12 says. Who a father loves he disciplines?
Proverbs 27:5 NKJV
Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed.
To love them enough to deal confront them because they are harming themselves or others. When with they are in danger of losing their marriage, kids’ career, life or facing time in an institution…. We have a saying: DON’T BE A DOPE (death or prison eventually). So, you have to love them enough to pull them out from the bus they are throwing themselves under
Sometime to break through denial it takes PAIN and Consequences.
If they are not taking responsibility for their actions, showing remorse when they stumble, or are not actively trying to change then you have to face the difficult decision of letting them go or asking them to leave. You can say I have tried to help and support you, but I am seeing no effort or motivation on your part. If they need to sleep in their cars, or an experience night in jail to sober them and get their attention, then you need to see if is ultimately for their long term good. In the story of the prodigal son it says he came to himself and remembered. This is attitude that you want to see in your loved one.
Again, confrontation is not to shame it is to get their attention or to repent (change)
DENIAL (don’t even know I am lying), many times they have done it so long they don’t even realize they are doing it, so it takes the confrontation to break through the denial.
HOWEVER, when you let them go…pray for them that they will come to the end of themselves. check on them frequently so they know you love them and so you can assess their attitude…but don’t let them come back home until you see tangible remorse and willingness to change
NOW THE BALANCE
This is where the tough lovers fail... When they repent. Receive them with open arms
Welcome them Reaffirm you love for them and how it hurt you to be tough
**REMEMBER THIS THE REASON YOU DO IT**
We all have faults and issues. God has forgiven us.... So be willing to forgive
Forgiving doesn’t make what they did right or make them immune to consequences or mean you will automatically trust them again.
However, when they have repented and shown a willingness to change, that is when they need someone who they know truly loves them to step in and love them like Jesus did in the story of The Prodigal Son.
For them to be willing to change is what we wanted when we engaged tough love in the first place, so after they show genuine remorse, reaffirm your love and support for them. None of us wants to see our loved one experience pain, but sometimes it is necessary for them to experience consequences for their choices and actions, so they will come to the end of themselves and say, I don’t belong here, I have to change, I need to get help, I need to go home or I need to come to the Lord.
One important thing to know is that your loved one may continue to struggle and make mistakes but the thing to look for is remorse. We all make mistakes, but the issue is are we trying to learn from them and grow. If your loved one is taking initiative, working, staying connected with church, community and sponsors and stumble or make a mistake, it is to be seen differently than those who when they stumble are arrogant, defensive, justify, blame shift, and continue manipulate. These are the one you have to be tough and confront. The former need supports.
Again, the key is when they are genuinely sorry and remorseful and you see the actions not the talk, then it is very important to welcome them with open arms. It is at this time that you can give them a couple of weeks to decompress and come to themselves and get back on their feet. After that time, it is time for them to take initiative to find work and move towards a plan for their independence and to maintain their sobriety and be a productive citizen.
It is important that you keep the lines of communication open and learn about their patterns, weaknesses so you can provide them support and accountability.
It is also important that you learn how to communicate and resolve conflict. Another thing is learning how to lovingly confront in a way that your family member will receive the correction without defensiveness.
It is important here to remember that an addict has deep rooted shame and many times feel they are a great disappointment to you. As much as you have justifiable anger one must learn to refrain from lecturing, belittling, name calling, cursing or talking down to your loved one. This is counterproductive and leads to more shame. The toxic shame that leads to self- loathing rejection is a common reason why they use to escape it.
When the trust in your loved one has been violated and broken down it takes a lot of honest communication, and time for it to be restored. Just because the addict has been to rehab or jail and has come home does not mean you will trust them again. We say, trust is restored when one does the right thing for the right reason for a long period time, then trust is restored.
For trust to be earned the former addict needs to show remorse, patience and understanding to be willing to do whatever you need to build trust. It is a loving thing to submit their schedules to you prior to leaving home, or to willingly take a drug test and pay for it at their own expense if that is what they need from you. And they should do it with humility if that is what you need because they were the ones who were responsible for breaking the trust.
One way to help is to openly talk with your loved one about triggers. Ask them what people, places or things cause them to be tempted to use. Let them educate you so you can know what to watch for and when to check in with them with concerns.
Even though they are responsible for their own recovery, you can help by ensuring that you keep the environment clear of any temptations. Keep alcohol and especially pills or medications from being accessed by purchasing lock boxes for medication.
Go to medical appointments with them and ensure that they inform the doctor of their past issues with addiction. An important thing to know is many have relapsed when there has been a legitimate medical need. Many in recovery say that the medical need gave them a permission statement to use because they had legitimate need, or the doctor prescribed it. I have had several tell me that they were using this as a way to justify and as we say, “med seek.”
It is okay for you to set boundaries in any of the ways mentioned above. Anything that would help ensure trust, don’t go certain places or be around certain people. Many in recovery have told me over the years that they wish someone in their family or support system would have been tough on them.
One thing to be careful of is to continually bring up their past failures. Even though living with one in recovery is one day and a time and can be stressful, one way to work smarter not harder is not continually bring up the past. This has a tendency to shame them into self - condemnation and self-loathing which are major triggers to make them want to use. Check in and say I have some concerns and want to talk to you, or I want you to assure me that you are okay and not falling back into old patterns.
Also, watch the name calling, cursing and belittling. You may be angry, but these are not helpful. Pray to slow your reaction and then properly ask them for a good time to talk. Sometimes all it takes is to properly and respectfully bring up an issue for them to be willing to listen. When there is voice raising or name calling it puts one on the defensive and then they do not hear your concern.
If you get a sense something may be wrong or if you see a behavior that concerns, you it is good to be pro - active. Respectfully check in and have your loved one reassure you that they are grounded and not struggling with temptations. Most time they are appreciative if you properly check in and raise concerns,
It is important that your loved one knows you love them unconditionally and are available to them when they need you. Part of that love is for them to know you are involved and monitoring their behaviors. Ensure they are working their recovery program and sobriety plan. Ensure they are staying in contact with sponsors/mentors and attending support group or worship service. Do not let them shortcut any of this or they are in a danger zone. Encourage them to call their sponsors. Encourage them to go to support group or even put them in the car and drive them yourself.
Successful Relationship with Parole, Probation or Child Services.
It is important to be respectful to those who are in the system. The Lord says in Romans 13 that all authority has been established by God. Many have expressed to me that is was good to have someone over them holding them accountable and providing resources for them.
It is very important to show them respect. In their job most of the clients are angry, rebellious and hostile. Furthermore, most clients they deal with lie, minimize, justify and deny so if you will be respectful and take responsibility for your actions it may change the way they perceive and respond to you. Also, it goes a long way to developing positive rapport to those who supervising you. They are not used to people they oversee wanting to change and do the right thing so if you are, they will many times support you and advocate for you.
Watch complaining about the rules. The rules are established by legislative policy and they are not flexible to change them. Just follow the rules with respect and if you have an issue, respectfully ask to speak to their supervisor. Again, be respectful and they will almost always give you respect.
Stay proactive. If you are having concerns call you P.O. It is better that they hear from you frequently that shows you are making positive effort. Also, if you are having problems let them know. It is better they hear from you than for something negative to happen and you didn’t say anything due to fear. Under supervision. Honesty is the best policy. I know many times you may face legal consequences, but in my experience, if you are humble, respectful and upfront things will work out better for you and there may not be severe consequences.
WHAT IS HELPFUL
Watch triggers, hot buttons, situations and people
Watch Bringing up faults, and the past...
You may be justified…but it is not helpful
Properly bring it up so they are not defensive
Does not record wrongs…kind and longsuffering
Watch using in front of them....
Be willing to change to support them.
Check on them
Check in with them...
Ensure they are working the support system.... church, support group, mentors sponsors etc.
DO NOT LET THEM SHORTCUT HERE
When they shortcut they are in a danger zone for relapse.
If they cop an attitude.... give their sponsor or mentors a call
Developing rapport with system: Parole, Probation, CPS, Attorney’s
Books Life Recovery Devotional,
Taking Your Life Back,
6 Things Every Relationship Needs
Growing Up Wholly Vs. Holy
Understanding A PERSON WITH ALCOHOL AND ADDICTION
FORGIVING OUR PARENTS AND FORGIVING OURSELVES
COPING WITH AN ADDICT
MAKING PEACE WITH YOUR FATHER