I love is an alcoholic and we both desperately need help.
A: Thanks so much for reaching out; I know what you're
going through firsthand, and I can appreciate very much how
difficult all this must be for you. When we love someone who
has this disease, our emotions usually run rampant, and the
more we isolate with this "crazy" feeling the more
sick we become. So taking the time to seek some answers is
a sign that you're ready to get some relief.
I always say that there is no such thing as one addict in
a family. This disease affects the entire family dynamic—we
become "enablers" or victims, and learn a complex
assortment of behaviors that truly robs us of the peace God
wants for us in our daily lives. As someone who grew up in
a family where addiction was present, I understand how difficult
it is to find our way out of this darkness, and to make the
sometimes tough decisions that must occur when we love an
Although I can't diagnose exactly what's going on with your
particular situation, I will make some general comments. First,
alcoholism is both chronic and progressive, and it does not
get better without treatment. Secondly, if someone is not
willing to voluntarily enter treatment, and is an adult, there
is really little you can do to force him or her to get better.
(There is the option known as "intervention," but
this is a highly specialized event that must be organized
and rehearsed with a professional who is expert in this event.)
When we "allow" someone to continue drinking or
using drugs, even
if it seems "Christian" or "loving," we
are actually enabling them to stay sick. We must express our
non-judgmental love to this person, and let him/her know that
we will do anything to help should they seek help. But until
they seek this help, we must learn to limit our desire to
“save” them. Often this can mean making some tough
decisions that; might not “feel right,” such as
limiting contact, not supporting them financially, etc. As
difficult as it can be, we must surrender to Christ the sometimes
overwhelming desire to "fix" them. Because it won't
If you have an alcoholic or drug addict living with you, you
need to become very serious about protecting yourself and
your home. We are doing alcoholics NO favors by allowing them
food and shelter while they continue actively pursuing their
own destruction. A book that might really help you in this
regard is called Choices and Consequences. It should
be available through any major bookstore.
I strongly urge you to contact an organization called ALA-NON.
Their nationwide toll free number is 888-4AL-ANON. They will
direct you to people in your area more than willing to reach
out to you and offer hope and healing. They are people who
are experiencing (or have experienced in the past) what you
are going through now. They can help you learn to let go in
healthy ways, and learn about boundaries that will help you
disconnect in a loving way. They have lots of printed educational
material, and suggestions for books that can help. Also, see
the “links” page of my web
site for a number of other recovery resources.
You are not alone in this, though I'm sure at times you feel
that you are. This is not hopeless, though I'm sure sometimes
it feels so. Keep reaching out. Should your loved one ever
desire treatment, the ALA-NON folks can help you out with
that, too. Or call the
national number on my web site for information regarding meetings
in your area. And, of course, pray without ceasing for your
loved one and everyone who in relationship with him/her...
because he/she will need that love.
My book, Prodigal Song: A Memoir,
also available on the web site, tells my own story of family
dysfunction and the progression of my alcoholism. Many readers
have found it an interesting look into the mind of an addict,
and it has helped them.
I pray that you and yours will be proactive, reach out for
help, and discover that God waits beyond the shame and fear
with healing and hope.