Addiction in the Family: Taking Back Control of Your Lives

By Christie Hunt LMHC, RMFTI

There are an increasing number of families being torn apart by addiction. Family members feel helpless and overwhelmed, not knowing what they can do to help their loved one. Family members all too often find themselves on a roller-coaster ride of emotions. They live a life walking on eggshells in fear of triggering anger or losing control. Sometimes it seems easier to give into the torment, intimidation, and exhaustion. By doing so, you’re feeding the addiction and reinforce feelings of guilt, self-blame and frustration.

Take a stand and set limits with your loved one. Eliminate the enabling behaviors and stop making excuses for them. Your family is not responsible for their actions. Enabling your loved one is shielding them from awareness of the harmful consequences of their addiction. When you rescue someone from the consequences of their sin, you’ll only have to do it again (Proverbs 19:19a). When you begin to set firm boundaries, they will experience the natural consequences of their behaviors. Cause and effect is an essential law of life. The Bible calls it the Law of Sowing and Reaping (Galatians 6:7-8). By setting limits, you’re targeting the addiction, protecting your family, and increasing the chances for them to seek help.

It’s important to remember that your loved one is responsible for their journey. You cannot fix, change or control them. As a family, you can encourage change and support them when they have made the decision to ask for help. The realization that you have to surrender control and detach from your loved one may be difficult to accept. Educating yourself on addiction and seeking guidance from a counselor is a way to show support and begin to heal as a family.

I have come to believe that there is no “one size fits all” road to recovery. Everyone has their individual journey to healing. God created us as unique individuals. We are diverse in our thinking, learning styles and beliefs. Therefore, the addict and the family have to decide what works best for them. To attain wholeness, sobriety, and sanity, they have to do the work their way and wholeheartedly.

Hold steadfast in your time of darkness. Trust in God, His unfailing love, and His grace. God has plans for you. He views us as individuals with great value (Psalms 139:13-18). He walks with us through every trial – protecting, loving and guiding (Psalms 138:3-8).

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” Psalm 34:17-20