03 Dec Advice for Those Supporting an Addict
In parts one and two of this series of posts, we discussed how Elder Holland’s talk from the October LDS Conference this year, “Like a Broken Vessel,” can help those who are struggling with addiction heal, both mentally and spiritually. It’s important to remember that it’s not just addicts who suffer at the hands of this disease. The people who love them and support them are also affected. Elder Holland offers words of encouragement and advice to those supporting someone dealing with a mental illness as well.
Be Still- And Wait
Addiction has taken a long time, probably years, to take root in your loved one, and it’s not going to go away overnight. Seeing an addict suffer is hard, and you may feel like you want to fix the whole problem right now, but overcoming addiction takes time. Trying to rush the process, or having unrealistic expectations will only overwhelm you, and will place unnecessary pressure on the addict, who is already dealing with enough stress.
Elder Holland advises, “Don’t assume that you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be grateful for them and be patient. Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone to ‘stand still’ or ‘be still’ and wait. Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education.”
Take Care of Yourself
You can only help your loved one overcome their addiction if you are strong enough for the task. Allowing yourself to be constantly worried, sleepless, and run down will only make you sick right along side them. Elder Holland suggests, “For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength.”
Take the time to get enough rest, to be properly nourished, and to exercise regularly. If you need to take a break from the situation, don’t hesitate to ask for help from another loved one.
Charity Never Faileth
The most influential thing you can do to help an addict is to love them unconditionally. This doesn’t mean you have to fuel their addiction with money or excuses, but that you can offer your unwavering love and support as they work through recovery.
Elder Holland says, “While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.” Offering words of encouragement, withholding lofty expectations, and letting your loved one know that you’re there for them can make all the difference.
Elder Holland reminds us, “Whatever else you may or may not be able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give ‘love unfeigned.’ ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; it beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.’”