October 13, 2014
OCTOBER: SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio Says Letting Go of Past Hurts Can Help People Let Go of Addictions
Philadelphia—Few may make a connection between unforgiveness and substance abuse. Can letting go of past hurts help us let go of our addictions?
Absolutely, says Karl Benzio, M.D., a psychiatrist and founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network (www.lighthousenetwork.org), an addiction and mental health counseling helpline. He adds that unforgiveness relates to substance abuse because when people struggle with hurt and pain, they can turn to drugs and alcohol. Cleansing their lives of that pain through true forgiveness can help them cleanse their lives of addiction, too.
“We are all addicted to comfort,” said Benzio, noting that October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. “Unfortunately, we have all experienced hurts and wounds—some very serious. Not knowing how to process these experiences, especially the aspects of dealing with the perpetrator of that hurt, causes the tentacles of underlying anger and resentment to reach into many aspects of our lives. Sadly, because we don’t like to be out of our comfort zones, we believe the lie that alcohol, substances or certain behaviors either create false comfort or return us to that comfort zone.
“Forgiveness is a powerful gift that God gives us and teaches us about,” he continued, “first through His own forgiveness of us, then by empowering us to forgive others. Once we dispel the many myths and misunderstandings about forgiveness, forgiving is actually quite simple, easy and very freeing. Forgiveness is a powerful and healthy coping mechanism that expands our comfort zone. When we truly forgive, we will no longer need to turn to our addictions for a false sense of comfort or soothing.”
Benzio added that relationships often generate our most rewarding life experiences, but also our biggest hurts. Forgiveness may be easier said than done, partly because of the many myths that surround forgiveness, such as:
- Forgiving means forgetting.
- Forgiving is starting with a clean slate, letting the offender “off the hook.”
- Forgiving is trusting just as you did before the transgression.
- Forgiving is never bringing up the past.
- Forgiveness is always easy.
- To forgive, we have to forget the offending behavior.
- Forgiveness requires rebuilding the relationship and reconciliation.
- To forgive is to condone, justify or excuse the offending behavior.
- We should forgive only if the other person deserves, asks for or accepts our forgiveness.
- When others forgive us, we are free of any consequences.
- When we forgive, we are being weak, passive, submissive or powerless.
“These are all myths,” Benzio said. “Contrast these with principles from the Bible about God, the ultimate forgiver: He never forgets. He is omniscient. God has consequences for us. And God only trusts us with opportunities based on our skills and willingness to follow Him. Forgiveness is a powerful healer, but we must first know what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.”
Forgiveness is a topic in many of Benzio’s counseling sessions, where he talks to patients about true forgiveness, which involves giving up dysfunctional anger, revenge, bitterness, judgments, passive aggressive behaviors, verbal abuse and resentment.
“While it does take two to reconcile a relationship, it only takes one to forgive. So avoiding forgiving is inexcusable, especially knowing the life-saving and enhancing benefits we are missing out on when we choose not to forgive.”
Those concerned about underlying anger and unforgiveness that may lead to substance abuse can call the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Network Helpline at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242). The most effective help will incorporate God into the healing process, because without Him, no amount of rehab, treatment or medication can bring lasting healing and transformation. Lighthouse Network also provides online resources for those concerned about a family member, friend or a loved one. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/im-family-a-friend.
Lighthouse Network representatives and counselors also help those in need navigate the complex health care system and complicated insurance processes, offering expertise to clients to maximize their insurance in order to obtain the best treatment option with minimal out-of-pocket cost. Lighthouse can also help those without insurance find treatment options.
Benzio shares insights on various mental health issues in the one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” airing on approximately 425 radio stations across the country, including 200 stations in the American Family Radio Network. The purpose of the “Life Change” program is to bring scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine some common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s obstacles and enjoy fulfilled lives. For more information on “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/life-change-with-dr-karl/.
Lighthouse Networkworks to guide struggling people through storms to achieve peace and find answers for those who have a hard time defining their problems. Lighthouse Network also offers the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).
Lighthouse Network’s web site, www.lighthousenetwork.org,provides information to those struggling to find help for their addiction problems, as well as to family members searching for help for a loved one. Topics addressed include alcohol abuse, addictions, and other mental health or life management issues.
Lighthouse Network offers several resources for those struggling with addiction and their families, such as Stepping Stones, a free daily devotional for managing life’s stressors and storms and equipping readers with healthy decision-making skills. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/stepping-stones/ to read the devotionals and sign up to receive them daily via email.
For more information on Lighthouse Network, visit www.lighthousenetwork.org or call the Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).