A note from Kelly King: Kaye Hurta is writing several articles on the topic of addiction. Today she is not focusing on the addict, but on those who are close to the addict. Whether you are a parent, friend, spouse, or ministry leader, I believe Kaye’s article today will be an encouragement to you.
Chances are you know someone struggling with an addiction. It could be you are that person or you live with that person. If that is the case, let me say first, I’m so sorry for your struggle and your pain. No matter the circumstances that brought you to this point, you or your loved one deserve better and were created for freedom. The path to freedom is less a gentle path through the woods and more like a long and winding road. I have heard occasions where people have been set free from addiction in an instant, but that is the exception, not the rule. If you or someone you love is fighting for freedom, keep fighting, but settle in for a long obedience in the same direction.
In a previous article I interviewed my husband Chris, who leads our church’s Recovery ministry, on how to know if you have an addiction. I gleaned from his experience and pastoral insight for this article as well. In his experience, helping someone with an addiction is two-pronged: 1. caring for the “addict” and equally important and 2. caring for yourself.
There are many things to consider when caring for someone with an addiction, but here are three at the top of the list:
1. Get safe. Your safety, his or her safety, and the safety of children involved is the most crucial factor before help of any kind can be offered or received. Whatever it involves for you to be safe or to keep your children safe, do it. This will probably mean involving others for help including professionals or agencies. Nothing matters more.
2. Ask clarifying questions. Here are some places to start: a) Does the person know he or she needs help? If the answer is no, it is not likely that any help you offer will be effective, and you will work harder at the person’s freedom than he or she is. b) Does he or she want help? Again, if the person doesn’t, the help will not help. c) What is the best next step? The answer here always includes involving others—family, friends, pastors, professionals, etc. This is especially true if an “intervention” is required.
3. Ask for help. This may seem obvious, and yet most people will neglect this final and most important step. Addictions love secrecy and shame; isolation and secrecy deepens despair. Get others involved.
Equally important in caring for someone with an addiction is to care for yourself. Almost everyone runs the risk of becoming co-dependent. It is impossible to walk this road alone, so please find help for yourself through a recovery program, pastor, or counselor. Some pot holes to be careful to avoid include learning how not to fix, not to minimize, not to control, not to work harder than the addict, and not to neglect your own health.
If you are walking this painful road with a love one, know this: you are not alone. Really. Shame isolates, so let me say it again, you are not alone. Please reach out for help. Make the call today. The National Drug (and alcohol) Helpline is: 1-888-633-3239 or check out www.celebraterecovery.com.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.