Nine Truth Bombs for People Who Live With Addicts
According to the Delphi Behavioral Health Group, over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction. One hundred people die every day from drug overdoses, a rate that has tripled in the past 20 years. This is, of course, taking a toll on our health system as over five million emergency room visits were drug-related.
While I cannot be certain, I believe I’m safe to surmise that most of us have been touched by addiction in some way. Maybe you’re the wife who hides in terror from a drunk husband, or the mom whose meth-addicted child goes missing for days on end. Perhaps you’re the wife who walks in insecurity and loneliness due to your husband’s porn addiction. Maybe, the addict is you.
The Need For Truth
Some medical professionals identify addiction as a disease, and those who live with or love an addict know how infectious their addiction can be if boundaries are not in place. When we “do” life with an addict, we may find our every thought is consumed with their behavior and what they may or may not do next. We are exhausted, watching the addict’s physical, mental and emotional state deteriorate as they continue using their “drug” of choice.
Eventually, we begin to deteriorate with the addict if we become obsessed with their wellness. We grow angrier as the addict lies, manipulates or displays other unacceptable behavior. We are misunderstood by others when we try to explain the chaos we’re experiencing. We grow frustrated when others make excuses for the addict or just “don’t get it.” We feel like we’re the crazy ones when blamed for the addiction.
While living with or loving an addict may feel impossible, there are answers. The pain of watching an addict destroy themselves is gut-wrenching, but if someone you love is an addict, here are nine truth statements you must know and remind yourself of every day:
- You are not the cause of the addiction. No matter how many times you are blamed for the addiction or how true the lies may sound, it is not your fault.
- Learn to separate the person from the addiction. The “Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde” complex is real, so agree to only talk with the man/woman that God created them to be, not the addict who lies, manipulates, blames and rages.
- Your love alone cannot stop the addiction. An addict’s perception is warped, and all the love in the world does not change them.
- You can love the person and hate the addiction. Addicts live in a compulsive state of shame. Addicts believe nothing is “right” about them; therefore, they sink deeper when we shame them. Avoid degradation. It will not benefit you or your addict in any way.
- Forgive yourself if you have acted in ungodly or unloving ways toward the addict. None of us is born into this world with the skill set it takes to handle the complications of addiction.
- Addicts get help when they are ready to get help and not a moment sooner. While the boundaries you set can help drive them to wanting help, it is ultimately the addict’s choice. Continue praying for them and encouraging them to get the help they need but remember, it is ultimately their decision.
- Be diligent about the words you choose to believe from an addict. Addicts lie to themselves about their addiction. As a result, they lie to those around them.
- Stop enabling the addict. Lying for them, making excuses for them or running like crazy to keep the addict happy will not stop their addictive behavior. But it WILL destroy you.
- Do not allow shame to keep you hidden from truth. Find those who understand addiction and talk with them. Do not try to make others understand addiction if they are unable.
The life-saving truth for those who live with or love an addict is this: YOU can get healthy and have a life whether your addict is using or not.
Shannon Perry is an award-winning author, speaker, TV host, and national recording artist. Her latest book is “Grace and Guts: Strategies for Living a Knock-out Life.” She holds a Master’s degree in Education and Counseling, and is a Certified Instructor in both Crisis Counseling and Parenting classes. Visit http://www.ShannonPerry.com.