I came across an article from 2008, written by a therapist from LDS Family Services, Michael D. Gardner, entitled Hope, Healing and Dealing with Addiction. He outlines the importance of maintaining a positive, hopeful attitude as addiction is faced head-on. He also specifically describes measures that addicts and their spouses need to take in order to find hope and peace throughout the battle with addiction.
Face the Music
Gardner says that in all of his experience counseling couples who are struggling with addiction, he has learned that turning a blind eye to the problem often delays and impedes recovery.
He says, “Accepting the full scope of the problem is necessary for healing to begin. I advise spouses to calmly, and with love and support, encourage their partners to fully disclose the extent of their addictive behavior rather than allowing information to trickle in over time. Specific details may not be necessary; rather, it is more important to disclose the type of addictive behavior, its duration, and its frequency.”
He also counsels that the spouse needs to be careful of their reaction. Don’t discuss the problem when tempers are high, and having the help of a counselor may even be necessary. Be careful not to “ ‘catastrophize’ things, overgeneralize, or get stuck in all-or-nothing thinking.”
Controlling the Situation
Gardner warns spouses of addicts about the dangers, both to themselves and to their loved ones, when they try to control their spouse’s addiction through constant monitoring and policing. He advises that spouses, “focus their attention and efforts on what they can change, not on what they can’t. They can work on efforts to make their own lives better. These changes may not have any effect on their husband or wife, but this should not be the goal of the behavior.” He goes on to list the factors that spouses can and can not control in the following table included in the article:
Factors Spouses Cannot Control:
- Their partner’s behavior
- Their partner’s desire to change
- Their partner’s repentance process
Factors Spouses Can Control:
- Their response to their partner’s behavior
- Their ability to care for themselves
- Their willingness to forgive
- Their own spiritual progression
Why Peace Is Important for Recovery
Addiction is a battle that can tear up the soul of a person, as it creates a torrent of internal struggle that breeds further conflict in life. This is no way to live. Luckily, although addiction can be a difficult monster to face, it doesn’t mean that it has to control our lives. The road to recovery is one with many obstacles, each of which will require a tremendous amount of personal growth. However, the most important of these steps is the process through which we are able to find peace within ourselves. This is the foundation through which all other growth can be accomplished, but it is one that is difficult to lay. Here is some advice on how to make peace to empower your recovery…
Accepting Your Past Faults
The first step to calming the storm in your soul is to admit that it is there. We need to address the fact that there is a momentous problem in our lives, and it is likely caused by addiction. Although there are multiple people in life to confront about faults in your life, the first person that you need to be able to face is yourself. Acknowledging your faults can allow you to face them, head on, and can put you in a position to correct yourself by stepping out of the moment. This is an incredibly important aspect of making peace within yourself, and one that must come before all others.
Making Peace with Your Loved Ones
After you have acknowledged your faults to yourself, you need to pick up the pieces in the relationships of those who love you. Admitting these problems to your loved ones, and showing them that you are intent on growing and beating this battle is a huge step towards doing this. Whether or not you’ve had tumultuous moments with your family and friends in the past, due to this fight with addiction, the people who love you will want you to get better, and can be a great support network to help you in your journey.
Finding a Higher Power
Oftentimes, the problems that we have as people can seem huge when we are living inside of them. This is especially true of addiction. This is why reaching out to a higher power is such a common step of most recovery programs. It doesn’t even need to be a religious thing. Just acknowledging that our problems are small in the scope of the world can show us how surmountable they really are.
Kris is a Advanced Substance Use Disorder Counselor and has been working in the field of substance abuse since 1996. Kris is the Program Director for Renaissance Ranch. Kris’s passion for and commitment to assisting people in their healing and recovery is a great joy for her.