Addicts in the Family: A Christian Approach

DaughterChristian or not, there is no easy way to deal with the problem of addiction in our families. While we desire to extend Christ’s love and grace to the addict who is suffering, we often don’t know where to draw the line and set appropriate boundaries or how to really be of help. We want the addict to change, but we don’t really know how to make that happen, and help and assistance can quickly turn into enabling and codependency—and all with the best of intentions. We will be especially perplexed in dealing with a professing Christian who has developed into a full-fledged addict. How do we deal with their lack of regard for Scripture and the fundamental principles of the faith? How do we remain loving and compassionate in the face of their characteristic addict selfishness? How do we actually help an addict?

The Faithful Family and the Addict

So what’s the Christian thing to do for a family drug addict? To begin with, we must realize that addiction is gravely threatening to the spiritual life of the sufferer. Addiction becomes “god” to the addict, and thus a form of an idol, and he or she is no longer able to worship the true God. In the process, addicts make shipwreck of their faith. Therefore, the addiction problem must be taken seriously not only from a physical and psychological perspective, but from a spiritual one as well. While we will desire to be loving and understanding, we must understand that enabling the addict to continue in the addiction is not loving. Jesus loved all people, but he also called them to recognize and turn away from their sins. When it comes to addiction, we must do the same. Making it easier for the addict to continue practicing his or her addiction will not help him or her to get well. There is a need for a firm stance and clear boundaries, as well as much prayer.

Taking a Stand Against Addiction

Many families will approach the addict with an intervention, a formal meeting designed to break through the addict’s walls of denial so that he or she will agree to pursue treatment. A Christian intervention will often include a clergy person as one of the group members, and will incorporate Scripture and prayer into the meeting. The hope is that the addict will understand the way in which the addiction has impacted everyone around him or her, and recognize the need for help. But the addict may not be willing. If this is the case, it is up to the family to get help for themselves. Living with an addict naturally scrambles our paradigms and leaves us feeling crazy. Al-Anon, and other support groups for the families of addicts, can help provide the necessary perspective and tools for dealing with the addict compassionately and in a Christ-like way, but without codependency and enabling.

Hope for Recovery

Christian rehab programs are designed to bring together Christians who struggle with life-controlling addictions for recovery and restoration in Christ. These programs are based upon the 12 Steps and a rigorous study of the Bible. Residents may also attend church and participate in group prayer sessions. As they are beginning to walk in sobriety, they are coming to know the God who is saving them, and who will provide the power they need to stay sober.