I’ve been working with people who are struggling with loved ones who have addictions. I talked to my Aunt Betty about it, to ask for her wisdom, so I could better help others. Having had an eating disorder when I was a teen, I know the tremendous value in bringing the addiction into the light and in going through a 12-step-program. That helped me to recover and set me on the path to being healed. The nature of addictions is secrecy which is why the first step towards recovery is to be honest and admit you have a problem. Below in red is Sr. Betty’s wisdom:
Addictions throw people towards deceit. When dealing with people with addictions, they seem to have greater facility to move towards deceit in their life as a solution. It creates more problems. The nature of addictions is concealment. If you’re praying for a loved one who struggles with an addiction, hold that up to the Lord, and give the Lord your frustration and your longing to really be able to connect with them and not have them need to hide behind that pseudo-self that comes out when they are in their addiction. Pray to connect and not have them hide behind the alcohol, food, drugs, or whatever else they are using.
We have a deep hunger for the authentic self in others. You can feel the difference when it’s not there. Give the Lord the grief you feel. It’s real disappointment, because when they are in the addiction, they’re not presenting their true self to you. This artificial self that the addiction creates isn’t real. There’s a part wanting to say, “You’re not real. Go away.” It’s true that the substance does bring out an unreal part of people. It’s almost like a split personality. “Who are you? You are a phony.”
Addictive people don’t realize they’re presenting a false self. Sometimes they will complain that others don’t accept them, but really, in a sense, what’s happening is their loved one is feeling the difference in the addict and having a hard time accepting the phony self. They really do love the authentic person. But the difficulty is the person in the addiction thinks that others are rejecting them. No, they’re not. They’re rejecting the phony self.
Tell your clients to pray the rosary every day for those they’re praying for. The rosary and the Eucharist are very effective against the tricks of Satan. That’s why Satan hates them so much. Addictions can often either lead a person to sanctity in their struggle to overcome, or it can lead them to fall off the path to becoming who they really are. If they have that problem, then practicing the 12 steps has made saints of people. But if they let the addiction take over, it’s very difficult. The addiction is constantly calling them to slip off the path to authenticity. They become more and more phony, as they try to hide their addiction, so it drags them down away from who they really are. Addictions are a wonderful help to Satan in destroying the authentic self. They are Satan’s trick to stopping the authenticity of who you are as a person from happening. So many people fall for the trick.
If you have a loved one struggling with an addiction, you could say, “You must hear me on this. I have not moved in my love for you, but when you present that addictive self, I feel it’s another person not you.” That way they know deep down that you’re trying to find the real person, their true self again. It’s in there. You know it, but you also understand the disease.