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Addressing Addiction in the Family

Does someone you love seem to be self-destructing in addictive behavior? Are you watching a spouse, son or daughter abandon everything that was once important to them because of drugs, alcohol, sex or some other stimulant? An addiction or dependence is commonly defined as “a recurring compulsion to do the same thing over and over, despite harmful consequences to his health, mental state or social life.” Are you seeing that trade-off in someone you care about—a compulsive pursuit regardless of the effects it has, especially on your relationship?

If you aren’t seeing clear signs of addiction, are you noticing a gulf growing between you and this family member as their thoughts, time and energy are consumed by some dominating activity?

What can you do to help?

  STEP ONE: Assess the willingness to change

Has your loved one admitted a problem and shown interest in getting help? If they’ve given you any sign of wanting to deal with their problem, take that opportunity to get the best of Christian counsel and direction from those most familiar with the specific addiction he or she is indulging.

If instead you’re dealing with denial, you most likely will need to plan an intervention—which is an orchestrated attempt by family and friends to motivate someone to get help for their problem. An intervention is especially necessary to help stabilize the situation—to begin shielding your home from the emotional, physical and spiritual vulnerability of an out-of-control problem.

  STEP TWO: Treat body, mind and spirit

Sex addictions counselor Rob Jackson tells families that the addictive behaviors they see are just the tip of the iceberg. Efforts to modify behavior might seem effective in the short-term, but can re-appear or show up in a different sort of compulsion if underlying issues are not addressed. It is crucial to focus on more than simple behavior modification. Pastor Matt Chandler has said, “The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart.” Whatever treatment plan you pursue should have a three-pronged approach… body, mind, spirit.

Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.” So those struggling with addiction need to treat problems of the body, mind and spirit—to go beneath the surface and deal with the thoughts, emotions and spiritual conflicts driving those behaviors.

James 1:14 describes how dependence progresses from desire to enticement to sin and, ultimately, to death. The most effective approach to recovery is to reverse that progression—to restore a right relationship with God (Romans 8:1-15), to have a clean heart (Psalm 51), to have a renewed mind (Romans 12:2) and then as a result, to bear good fruits in behavior (Romans 6:7).

  STEP THREE: Find hope in perseverance

God is able to redeem anyone and restore them to a life characterized by self-control (Titus 2:11-14). There is hope in persevering as a family through the struggles of recovery. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character; hope.”

Your prayers ultimately come down to asking that God’s best will win out for this family member, remembering Jesus’ words: “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

  STEP FOUR: Maintain an eternal perspective

Many times, recovering from serious addictions is a process that takes years. However, a few years, in the light of eternity is a short time to endure a trying situation. 2 Corinthians 16-18 says, “…Therefore we do not lose heart… For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. Your story, and the addict in your life’s story, is not over. People can, and do, overcome addictions through the freedom and power found in Jesus Christ.

Recommended Books -Available from the Faith @ Home Center

A Hunger for Healing (by J. Keith Miller) is helpful to those dealing with addictive behaviors in themselves or someone they love.

Recovering Redemption (by Matt Chandler) provides a Gospel-Centered approach that explains how knowing Jesus Christ provides hope and healing for even the most hopeless situations. NOTE: This is recommended for those trying to help someone they love with addictive behaviors.

Going Further – Church Support

Life Group Ministry: Authentic Christian community and mentoring is available through Riverview’s Life Group ministry. Contact our Life Groups pastor Michael Beene at [email protected] for more info.

Pastoral Counseling: Pastors are available to counsel those who would like more Godly wisdom on this issue. Please call the church office for more info: 573-348-3515