For families, spouses, and close friends of addicts the pain is just as real as the pain of the addicted one themselves. In fact, the pain and daily struggle of striving to manage the unmanageable life of an addict leaves the lives of the loved ones just as unmanageable.
The emotions and struggles are overwhelming and never let up. Pain, depression, obsessive worry, anxiety, fear, hatred, anger, frustration, rage and others are the daily reality of many who live with, or are very close to, an addict. When an addict is taking the drugs, they know that it leads to harm and is really no way to live. In the same way, when the family members of addicts are desperately scrambling to manage the unmanageable life of an addict, they know deep inside that it is really no way to live. If the families and loved ones of addicts do not take care of themselves, then who will be left to help? If the minds of the loved ones are given over to insanity, then who will wisely respond to the real issues and needs?
The Bible says this about an optimum way to live. Galatians 5:16 NIV So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Living by the Spirit of God leads to health and life. When we live according to the sin of others, we live a life of sin ourselves. Both persons are trapped and both need help. How then, do family members of addicts find rest for their own souls and learn to care best for their loved ones? We must follow the ways of our Lord.
1. Surrender the care of our loved one to the care of God.
Family members of addicts usually believe that no one understands why they must do what they do. Not even God. This is not truth. No one will ever care for a human being or love them more than God Himself. For God so loved you, your addicted family member, and the rest of the world that He gave us Jesus. He is able to care for your loved one. He is also able to do it with more wisdom and insight than we can. In prayer, we can bravely, albeit with difficulty, go to God and surrender the daily activities of managing the lives of the addict to God.
2. Admit our own helplessness.
1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." Family members rarely take care of their own needs because there is no time left after managing the needs of the addict. This becomes an addiction unto itself and must be cast on the Lord. Why? Because He cares for you too. It's okay to admit our helplessness to God. In fact, if we don't, we won't leave room for Him to work. In prayer, cast your anxiety on Him and say, "I can't do this on my own any longer."
3. Trust God.
When you begin to change the rules with the addict by which the game of your lives has been played, then lives will be upset. People will begin to try to force you into your old behavior. You may experience extreme guilt or worry. In those moments, we must trust God with laser focus. He is more trustworthy than anyone or anything. The bible has wisdom for these moments: Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (6) in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
4. Don't Isolate. Get Help from an understanding community.
Isolating has been the pattern for the family of the addicts all along. It's time to blow the cover off and emerge from hiding. There is help. The support you need is waiting by making one simple call to the Addiction Response Ministry phone line at 716-222-0299. Christian guidance, a compassionate voice, an understanding ear and resources for engaging in community are awaiting you. Don't travel the difficult path alone.
You are loved. Your addicted loved one is loved. There is hope and healing awaiting you. Amen.