Learning about addiction can help us better understand our loved ones’ behaviors. There is much good information available about addiction and recovery as well as what we can do to help ourselves and our loved ones. One way to find answers is to listen to others’ experiences, which can help us feel validated and not so alone. Knowing what to expect in a situation involving addiction can empower us to better help ourselves and our loved ones.
Realize that addictions cannot be released without help. Those affected must have the personal desire to seek and obtain repentance and recovery and healing. In our righteous desires, we can take care not to use language that would only deepen the shame and guilt of our loved ones. We can maintain a standard of purity, yet open our loving arms so those privately suffering can have a safe place to emerge and find peace.
As we have discussed before, all addictions appear to cause physical damage in the control and pleasure areas of the brain. Complete healing requires the help of the Savior and His atonement.
How has seeking a better understanding of addiction helped you?
Our loved ones ensnared in addiction often make poor choices and may suffer significant consequences. It is hard to watch this happen and to feel helpless to prevent it. We might believe that things won’t get better unless we step in and fix it. We may try to persuade, reason, bargain, punish, manipulate, or shame our loved one into recovery. These attempts may seem effective for a time, but in the end they are not enough. We learn from experience that trying to exercise control only creates a climate of tension, fear, and resentment.
It is natural for us to want our loved ones to experience the healing power of Jesus Christ, and we strive to help them in any way we can. However, it is important to understand that we cannot save them. If we try to save them from the consequences of their poor choices, we are wrongfully attempting to usurp the role of our Savior and Redeemer. Some of our efforts and intentions in their behalf may actually postpone their turning to the Savior. For God to heal them, they need to exercise faith and be obedient to His commandments. We cannot do that for them. The Savior asks, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” All people must choose for themselves to come unto the Savior. In the case of a person struggling with an addiction, they are the only one who can choose what is necessary to find recovery. Our loved ones’ addictions need not interfere with our coming to the Savior.
|Art by Amberle Stoffers|
How can we prevent a desire to support a loved one from turning into an attempt to override agency?
What is Humility? Humbling yourself is not just some droop-faced, hang-dog expression to wear on our countenance. Rather, it is opening our hearts up to higher things. Call upon God. Invite Him to come by devoting ourselves, in humility to living every principle He has taught. Not just a laundry list of "to-dos", but meek and prayerful watching and accepting what His Spirit advises us to do. Call, listen and obey what we are told. Stay tuned and attuned. His messages sometimes come from unexpected sources.
What are some unexpected sources that we might receive messages from?
Understanding involves noticing when our thoughts argue with reality. The only time we suffer is when we believe a thought that argues with what is. We might as well teach a cat to bark. Wanting the cat to bark is wanting the reality to be different than it is. We could spend the rest of our lives trying to teach a cat to bark. It is important to stay in our own business. There are three kinds of business, mine, yours and God’s. (meaning reality) Anything out of your control or mine is God’s business. Much stress comes from mentally living out of our business.
When we think of someone else, “you should get a job, be happy, be on time, take better care of yourself, agree with me, get rid of your addiction"…. then I am in your business.
Earthquakes, floods, war or when I will die is God’s business.
When I am mentally in some one else's business or God’s business, the effect is separation. Feeling hurt or lonely comes from being in someone else’s business. Being mentally in another's business keeps us from being present in our own.
The next time we might feel stress, ask whose business are you in.
How can caring for yourself and understanding whose business you are in better enable you to help your loved one?
When we put our hand into a fire, does someone have to tell us to move it? No, when the hand starts to burn, we move it. Once we understand that an untrue thought causes suffering, we move away from it.
Here is an example of an untrue thought.
My children should pick up their socks.
Was not true. The reality was that day after day, they left their socks on the floor after all my years of nagging and punishing. I was the one who should pick up the socks if I wanted them picked up. My children were perfectly happy with their socks on the floor. Who had the problem? Me. My thoughts about the socks made my life difficult, not the socks themselves. Who had the solution? Me. I could be right or I could be free.
It took just a few moments to pick up the socks. I realized I loved picking up their socks. It was for ME, not them. It stopped being a chore and turned into a pleasure to see the uncluttered floor. Eventually, my pleasure was contagious and they began to pick up their own socks without me saying a thing!
Our parents, children, spouses, friends will press every button we have until we realize what it is that we don’t want to know about ourselves, yet. They will point us to freedom every time.
Why is it important to seek your own healing? What has prevented you or is preventing you from coming to the Savior to be healed?
Personal Learning and Application
Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, insights, and plans to implement what you learn. As the needs and circumstances in your life change, repeating these answers will provide you with new insights. Go back to the questions in the chapter. Write your answers. Each time you go through a chapter, your answers might change.
1. Study Jeremiah 17:14 . What do we learn about healing from the Lord?
2. Consider all of the physical, mental, and emotional energy you have spent on your loved one’s addiction. Consider a plan of action to ensure that you maintain balance in your life. What are some things you can do?
3. Write some examples of positive words and phrases you can use when talking to your loved ones?