I once met a woman who was in need of help with her addiction. She had come to the rehabilitation center where I worked. It was a situation like no other I had encountered, since being a recovering addict, patient advocate, and Christian. Her story was not strange or unheard of, however sad hearing how difficult it was for her to hide her addiction.
This woman was a wife of a Pastor. She shared how she was a typical pastor’s wife and had to keep her “face on,” and her appearance up to standard. All of this took place as she crumbled inside, due to her alcoholism, and the shame and guilt that was side by side. She told of how she had to hide alcohol all over her house to make sure there would be plenty whenever she needed it, or couldn’t go out to get it. Her alcoholism got so bad, that even though her family began to notice as well as her husband, they had to save face and just cover up the problem. That surely wasn’t easy.
If you know about any addiction, you lose control of yourself and ability to cope with life and it’s circumstances. Your addiction becomes the most important thing that life has to offer and every moment is spent thinking of how you are going to keep using or making plans on how to get what you need. If it’s not a drug or drink, the behaviors also are detrimental. You spend many moments planning on how you are going to get to do whatever it is that you are addicted to doing like gambling, watching porn (or finding someone to lay with), purchasing more of something you already have enough of, and just simply adding fuel to any fire. The coping skills go out the window or there simply just isn’t any in mental reach.
Just like many other families, this woman’s family didn’t want the church or other loved ones to find out so they did what they could to help hide her addiction. She shared how she found more and more hiding spots, as her family fought to locate her hiding places daily. It became so overwhelming that she just gave up and told her family that she could no longer take it. She wanted to get help. And she did. It was a pleasure to work with someone who was actually desperate enough to do what it took to get sober. I remember that feeling.
The holidays are among us and addiction has not changed. People of all backgrounds and statuses are using in high numbers. Addiction is a plague just like the pandemic we are currently facing in our society. Many many people have lost their lives, loved ones, or just their sanity due to addiction and the problems around it.
People are lonely, depressed, dealing with many different personal issues during the holidays. They have lost loved ones, went through divorce, lost homes, jobs, etc., and just find reasons to either pick up addiction or expand on one they may already have. Please take time to love and support your loved ones that are struggling with addiction enough so that they know you are there. Not only does addiction take people away from us, but mental health is also a strong force to fight. Suicide is another problem that we deal with when our loved ones decide they can no longer handle what they feel life is throwing at them.
You don’t have to enable, you don’t have to be afraid either, but you can just be there. It’s really hard to address addiction as a caring loved one. You’re not always sure how to help. Just know you are not in control of the person or the addiction. You cannot cure their addiction. All you can do is be supportive and if you get the chance, squeeze in a little suggestion that you are there to help them get well if they need you. Hopefully, they can see the damage and feel enough courage to reach out and get the help they need before it is not an option. May God bless you all during the holiday season. If you need help or support with overcoming an addiction, you can find me on Psychology Today, or you can find treatment anywhere. There is help all over.