When People You Love Struggle With Addiction

As a recovering addict, it’s hard to see people I love struggle with addiction. I can certainly relate to having habits that are hard to break. Honestly, addiction is way more than a bad habit or undesirable behavior.

Next week I’m teaching an “Overcomers” class down at a local homeless shelter. I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to talk and teach on concerning this challenging subject. Through my recovery, I have learned that addiction has many facets and even more faces. There is a lot of ground that I can cover, including sharing my own personal experience and testimony. Addiction is a beast that doesn’t let go easily. It’s a daily fight for most of the people I know who, like me, are living in recovery. The addict is often the last one to know that they have a problem. You can’t diagnose another person’s addiction for them. It’s something they must do themselves.

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People nowadays are addicted to a wide variety of things. My experience has taught me that it’s not usually just one thing that we’re hooked on. After all, the essence of my addiction lies in the realization that I’m not likely to stop at one of anything. The people I will be speaking to at the addictions class struggle with habits ranging from crack cocaine to pornography and everything in between.

NEED HELP? You can find recovery resources here.

While their individual addictions may be different, there are commonalities. The habit has taken over our lives and made them unmanageable. We can’t stop under our own power. It’s not a matter of personal willpower, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, or being determined enough to quit the undesired behavior. By nature, addictions are compulsive. We just can’t get enough, no matter how much or how often we consume. The habit morphs into new levels of lows as we seek new highs. What once did the trick suddenly doesn’t light up our jollies anymore. Things get so bad it seems like only death will stop us.

Can we quit? Yes. Most definitely. 

Can we change? Absolutely.

But we need help. We can’t kick these demons on our own. I wish we could. But we can’t. They’ll kill us if we try.

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How do I know if someone I love is struggling with addiction? You’ll know. But that doesn’t mean you can do anything about it until they are willing to admit the problem is real and having a negative impact on their life. They got to want it. You can’t want it bad enough for them. I wish you could. But you can’t.

One thing recovery has repeatedly taught me is that I need to be careful when it comes to taking another person’s inventory. I have my own to take care of and making a list of what’s wrong with so-and-so ain’t my job. Sorry. It’s just not.

TWELVE STEPS TO HELP LEAD YOU OUT OF ADDICTION

It’s up to you to decide if knocking back a bottle of wine by yourself or giving up your rent check to visit the dope man is a problem. You must come to the realization on your own that you have a gambling problem, pop too many pain pills, or that you’re addicted to porn. It’s not something me or anyone else can do for you.

The good news is that once you get to where you can admit you have a problem and that your life has become unmanageable as a result, there are people, like me, who can help you.

All you have to do is call.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

Speak truth. Breathe life. Give You.

There exists, in the human experience, a certain unity. Most of us are recovering from something or someone. Addicts are recovering from the train wreck that is our life. Our loved ones are recovering from us. We can be a hurricane, tornado, typhoon, and monsoon all rolled into one. The storm of us leaves a wake of destruction reeling in its path. Trust violated. Broken promises. Lies told, sold, and delivered. Check.

You recognize there is a problem. You look in the mirror and realize it’s you. You decide to stop. But…try as you might, you can’t. Not alone. Not without help. You continue using despite the consequences and although you want to STOP. How crazy is that? You keep doing what you no longer want to do but what you’ve been doing controls your thinking and your decision-making. You’re no longer the boss of your own life. You are no longer the master of your domain. Your addiction is.

Animated Infographic: Monitoring the Future 2017 Survey Results

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You want to die because living hurts too much and causes too much pain. You cry for help. No one hears you. You cry louder. Still, no one. You are broken. Shattered. Your life is in pieces. You’re in shambles, shackled to your addiction. You look up to see bottom. Finally. Help comes.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 

Slowly, minute by minute at first, you start the process of recovery. You are powerless over your addiction. Your life has become unmanageable. You come to believe a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, you decide to turn your will over to the care of God as you understand him. You begin searching and taking a fearless inventory of yourself. All the hurts. All the hang-ups. All the heartaches. All the habits. You take a big step forward that requires courage. You admit to God, to yourself, and to another human being the nature and extent of your wrongs. The list is long. That’s how we all begin. Going forward, we will strive to keep our list short. Live simpler lives. You ask God to remove all your defects of character. You humbly ask the Lord to remove your shortcomings.

This doesn’t happen overnight.

Some of our dents are easier to fix. Others are more difficult and need further work. You sit down, write a list of all the people you have hurt and harmed. You determine to make amends to all of them, except where doing so would further injure them or others. Some will receive your apology and forgive. Others will shut, even slam, the door in your face. You determine to no longer be a source of hurt and pain. You decide to treat others like you want to be treated. You begin to live your life in a way that does not cause injury or harm to others. Undoubtedly, you will fall short. So, you keep taking a personal inventory, promptly admitting when you do wrong and immediately making amends. You keep the list short.

Through continuous prayer and daily meditation, being mindful of others, you improve your conscious contact with God as you understand him, asking for the knowledge of his will for your life and the power to carry it out. Having had a spiritual awakening, you live a life modeling servant leadership, carrying the message to others who, like you once were, are struggling and fighting for their lives to overcome their demons of addiction. Today, you are no longer just a taker. No. You have become a giver.

Speak truth. Breathe life. Give You.

Praying UGMD

Greg Butler testimony: From Addiction to Jesus

Need help? Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Remaining Vigilant on the Road of Recovery

Recovery is a total overhaul of our mind, body, and spirit. It is a constant, ongoing process. You can graduate from a program, but you never graduate from your recovery. Even after you overcome your habits and hang-ups and find healing from your hurts, the work of recovery continues. Like the process of sanctification, the journey of recovery transforms us daily, correcting our skewed inner navigation system. We are all flawed. We are all a little damaged. No one drives life’s highway without getting dinged up. At the end of the road, none of us even get off the highway alive.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)

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Recovery is about living. Addiction is about dying. As addicts, regardless of habit or hang-up, we die to self a bit every single day. The longer we remain embroiled in the turmoil brought on by our darkest demons, the more of our self we lose. We find ourselves wandering aimlessly off-course, struggling to find our way home.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

But, the good new is that recovery works if you work it. We avoid getting too far ahead of ourselves and certainly we must not get ahead of God. His desire is for us to walk with Him, just as Adam and Eve walked with Him in the Garden (Genesis 3:8). When we walk with God, it fosters closeness, intimacy and fellowship. Spiritual growth occurs. Our spiritual growth and transformation help us remain in a state of recovery. Recovery is not a stagnant but ever-developing, altering states just like water forms into ice and ice evaporates into a gas.

Vigilant

Our recovery requires our active participation, monitoring our thoughts and behaviors, continuing to learn and practice new skills, developing and growing our support system, and being alert and watchful to triggers and temptations to use or return to our addictions of choice. We must stay vigilant, guarding against relapse.

Step 1: Honesty

“Admit that you, of yourself, are powerless to overcome your addictions and that your life has become unmanageable.”

The work of recovery is hard but it is also rewarding. The work we do in the rooms and through our programs helps us rebuild broken relationships. Recovery brings new people into our life as well, providing us with friends who walk with us, mentoring us, and most of all, holding us accountable. We can experience happiness because we learn to quickly forgive wrongs and readily admit when we messed up and need to apologize and make amends. This keeps the list short and our burdens light, replacing pain with joy. Through recovery we can live the abundant life our Creator intended for us to experience this side of Heaven.

Open Door

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (ESV)

My friend, continue to press on, one day at a time, and even sometimes one moment at a time.

RBantau_072017 Devo Guy