Dr. Benzio offers 10 tips for family members who are dealing with addicted relatives being away for treatment at the holidays:
- Don’t take this difficult time personally or as an attempt to ruin the holidays. It’s not about you, and the best gift someone struggling with addiction can give is their own healthy functioning.
- Take some time to heal from the combat zone you have been in for this last season of life with your loved one and his or her addiction. Healing should be pursued in all three spheres: spirit, mind and body.
- Pray for God’s peace and wisdom. Pray for your loved one to be humble in accepting a different way to manage his or her life. And pray for God’s peace and wisdom as you evaluate the past, live in the present and prepare for your loved one’s discharge and future relationship with them.
- Develop realistic expectations. Your loved one didn’t develop an addiction overnight, and it won’t go away quickly. Recovery and transformation are a process, and adversity and setbacks are inevitable. Consider how you can be a helper, but not an enabler.
- Recalibrate your emotions. Bring your intense emotions back into a realistic realm, so you can think clearly and not let your emotions become your decision-making system.
- Work on forgiving your loved one for his or her transgressions. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it is better than the alternative of harboring rage, revenge and spite for the pain others have caused.
- Determine the healthy boundaries necessary once your loved one leaves rehab so you can stop enabling and be a healthy support in their progress. For some, this might mean doing more; for others, less. Think about getting professional help in how to do this.
- Write a letter to your loved one letting him or her know what you might have done to fan the flame of their addiction and what you are going to do differently to love them in a more healthy way. You didn’t cause their addiction, and you can’t control it, but you probably have some influence on them, and that influence should be healthy.
- Begin viewing your loved one as someone who is sick and needs God’s help, love and peace. Addicts have something deeper inside with which they are struggling, and they are looking to the wrong answer to rid themselves of that struggle.
- Commit to being honest and open with your loved one when he or she returns from treatment. There is love in truth. Satan thrives in darkness, secrets and vagueness. Don’t fall into that trap.
Those with questions about treatment options for family or loved ones during the holidays 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 to 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