When You Love Someone Who is Facing Addiction

When You Love Someone Who is Facing Addiction


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james-sutton-195612Chemical dependence is occurring at epidemic proportions in the world in which we live. During President Obama’s recent and final State of the Union address, he spent some of those precious moments discussing the topic of addiction and the effects it has and will continue to have on our nation if left unabated. As a result of this wide-scale problem, I believe everyone is touched by the stronghold of addiction. If someone is chemically dependent and willing to attend intensive treatment then that becomes the avenue. But what about the family members and other loved ones of chemically dependent persons? How can we help these clients?

  1. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion],” (Proverbs 27:17, Amplified Bible, AMP). It is important to encourage the loved ones to get help from a support group of others with similar experiences. Celebrate Recovery is a good example of a nationwide program held in local churches. This program was founded in 1990 by Pastor John Baker of Saddleback Church and welcomes anyone with hurts, habits and hang-ups. There are also many other ministries with differing names but the same focus to give understanding and validation, they get informed and supported during this process of healing. These groups are crucial in breaking the all-to-common isolation that has kept them stuck.
  2. “When you do what is right and patiently bear [undeserved] suffering, this finds favor with God,” (1 Peter 2:20, AMP). As their counselor, it is important to help them process the insights they are gaining as they are educated on the roles often played in the chemically dependent family. As they share in their support group and with their counselor, they can begin to separate from the controlling cycle, which has wreaked havoc emotionally, cognitively and spiritually exchanging this for the unconditional love and truth of God.
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  4. “For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being],” (Acts 17:28a, AMP). As the client begins to look upward to their heavenly father and outward to their “support team”, they will be introduced to a key component of this process, one of detachment. This second step is often referred to as the “Bombshell Theory”, which helps the client to place their loved one in the hands of their loving, heavenly Father. The Bombshell theory says, “I cannot change another person by direct action. I can only be changed by the Grace of God. Others may have a tendency to change in reaction to my change.” Energy, then, can be directed at taking responsibility for one’s own actions while at the same time letting the chemically dependent have the opportunity to take ownership of their own personal transformation.
  5. “…But He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.’ Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me,” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, AMP). The helplessness of being unable to save the chemically dependent must be acknowledged. By accepting this reality, the loved one will be freed from the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors to change, fix, and control the chemically dependent. Then, the client can align with God’s truth of His ownership of the person. Consequences for the chemically dependent will ensue. This can be the most painful part of the process for everyone involved. However, this is the greatest opportunity for them to realize they have a problem and need help.
  6. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:10). In essence, the loved one’s biggest problem is control. As they give over control of the chemically dependent to God, they must also give over control of the circumstances that immediately result. Since the chemically dependent is no longer being rescued by their loved ones, collateral damage will likely ensue; however, we can be encouraged that God’s sovereignty will hold everything together.


will-van-wingerden-87463God’s plan is redemption. As we meet others at their points of need with grace and love while helping them apply His truths, we will see not only the individual who struggles with this stronghold be restored but also their loved ones. Thank God that he has a plan and has revealed it to us! “…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:2-3, The Message, MSG).



brian-murphyBrian Murphy, MS, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor having earned his bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University in the areas of psychology and sociology and a master’s degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in mental health counseling. Brian has been committed to serving in the areas of social work and mental health in South Florida for the past ten years.