It can be agonizing to wait as a loved one struggles with addiction or as they progress through the early stages of addiction treatment recovery. We feel like we should be doing something, but exercising patience can be a more active endeavor than it seems. Patience doesn’t mean ignoring a problem or evading responsibility. It doesn’t mean you don’t care for the addict or want the best for them. Being patient with an addict is an active and engaged process.
The first step in being patient with the addict and their recovery process is to understand it. Addiction is not rational, and the people who are affected by it aren’t either. With the abuse of alcohol or drugs, lies and deceit tend to go with the territory. Behavior is erratic and unpredictable. When you become educated about addiction, you learn how to better love and care for the addicted patients in the midst of a life-controlling disease. Even if the addict is now in recovery, it can be a slow process to eradicate old behaviors and character defects. Learning more about the process of recovery can help loved ones to be more compassionate and understanding of this challenging process.
This feels like a passive activity, but prayer is actually one of the most important things we can do for the addict in our lives. Pray that God would help them to stay strong on the path of recovery and that you would have the patience to allow the process to take its course. Pray that God’s will, not yours, would be done, and ask for the grace to forgive.
We want to fix the situation. We want to make the process move faster. We want to save the addict from impending doom. We believe this is the most loving thing to do. In reality, we may be blocking the addict from that vital first step in recovery: hitting bottom. Any recovering addict will attest, we have to go through hell before we get to heaven. Enabling holds the addict in purgatory.
The hitting-bottom process is often a means of humbling a drug addict. It’s a vital step. God knows what He is doing, andwe have to acknowledge that we can’t save someone who may not want to be saved. Years of codependency cloud our view and blur the lines between helping and hurting. Getting help from an addiction therapist can help addicts become willing to recover from their own patterns of enabling.
Always let the addict know that you love him and that you are here in any way to support his recovery, but not his detrimental addiction. Before fully letting the addict hit rock bottom, always speak with a professional to better understand what rock bottom is and if it’s safe for your particular loved one to reach that point as every addict, and their addiction is unique. Also, it’s important that family members have ample support as they walk the road of addiction recovery with their loved ones.