9 Things We Can Do To Help Others With Addiction

By now you have read the articles and seen enough stories to know that we have a serious problem with addiction in our country. Whether opioid, alcohol, sex, pornography, food, or technology, addiction is rampant across all classes, genders, and races in our culture. Too many of our neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends are entrapped in some sort of addiction and most are looking for a way out. This is where the church comes in. What place should be better for people that are broken and trapped to come to than a church, right? After all the neighborhood church is made up of people who sin and are hurting, admittedly or not. So why is the church not standing on the frontlines of the battle our country is having against addiction. Simple. We don’t know how.

The following nine points are not designed to bring someone out of addiction and “heal them.”

Recovery from addiction is a long process that takes time and needs the involvement of professionals. Most people are not equipped to lead someone through recovery, but these nine points can help us begin the conversation of someone looking for recovery.

Be Familiar with the 12 Steps Addiction cannot be prayed away, and addiction will not go away by simply finding Jesus. No program is 100 percent effective, but the Twelve Steps is a program that has proven to work over decades. The twelve steps do not have to be memorized completely, but being familiar with them is vital. Knowing the twelve steps is a skill that will make a difference when ministering. Santification is a spiritual process. We don’t just accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and stop sinning. Growing as a believer takes a lifetime.

Be Self-Aware Being able to become self-aware of personal hurts, habits, and hang-ups is a critical skill when ministering to an addict. 1 Timothy 4:16 reads, “Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”Being able to learn about one’s own self is critical before approaching someone struggling with addiction. Just because someone is not addicted to drugs, alcohol, or sex does not mean they are not addicted to something, or that they do not have a hang up. Before ministering to someone with addiction, completing a personal self-inventory is best. The first step to being honest with others is to be honest with oneself.

Be Humble After people becomes aware of their own personal hurts, habits, and hang-ups, they must be willing to take on the tough task of opening up to others. A skill that is important to reflect when ministering to someone struggling with addiction is the act of humility. Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:5  “All of you clothe yourselves with humilitytoward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”Being able to admit one’s own hurts, habits, and hang-ups will go a long way to building trust with someone struggling with addiction. Knowing that they are not the only one with a problem with help them to be able to open up sooner. No one is perfect, and everyone has flaws; trying to hide the imperfections will only hurt a great chance of being able to minister to help someone. Proverbs 11:2 states, “When arrogance comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.”

Listen and Understand the Problem A fourth important skill needed when ministering to someone dealing with addiction is the ability to listen and understand the real problems. Most of the time a back story explains why a person is struggling with addiction. At some point in his or her life abuse or some type of hurt mentally, physically, or emotionally has led that person to find himself or herself in the addictive behavior. Understanding the hurt is important before moving forward in the relationship. Proverbs 1:5 reads, “Let a wise person listen and increase learning, and let a discerning person obtain guidance.” Asking questions and listening carefully to responses will be critical to understanding the problem. People looking for recovery are not coming for help on their good days. They are coming for recovery on days when they have a problem.

Move from Problem Recognition to Resolution An important skill to have when ministering to anyone that is struggling in life, especially with addiction, is the ability to move from problem recognition to a resolution. Once someone has taken the time to listen and understand the problem, he or she needs a next step. An example of this occurs in Exodus 18 when Moses was found to be judging the people all by himself. He was working day and night to teach the people and it was exhausting to him. His father-in-law, Jethro, noticed that Moses was wearing himself out, so he advised Moses to set up a new system of government. With the help of Jethro understanding the problem Moses was having, he was able to help Moses come to a sensible resolution. When ministering to someone, having a next step is important. This step could be setting up another time to meet or referring that person to a professional. When going into a conversation with a struggling addict, best practices would be to take a list of resources, such as local addiction recovery programs or counselors. If the meeting is unplanned, asking to have a follow-up meeting may be necessary.

Be Honest When ministering to someone struggling with addiction, being honest is one of the most important actions that can be done. Proverbs 16:13 reads, “Righteous lips are a king’s delight, and he loves one who speaks honest” One should avoid making a promise that cannot be kept yet be honest about one’s own hurts, habits, and hang ups. Disappointment, shame, and guilt are all negative emotions that most addicts face, so not adding to their disappointment is important. Additionally, lying or breaking promises to someone is not a good way to illustrate the love of Jesus Christ. We have created a church culture where we feel like we are to leave our imperfections at the door. Pastors and other church leaders have an excellent opportunity to lead in this area by their willingness to be honest about their own struggles.

Build Rapport Most people struggling with addiction need to be a part of healthy relationships. They probably feel lonely and many have either turned their backs or they add on to the guilt and shame that the addict already carries. Whether someone is struggling with addiction or not, earning someone’s trust is a difficult. Earning the trust of an addict might be even more difficult.

Sharing hurts, struggles, and deep emotions are not easy and are very personal. People do not share their struggles or weaknesses with just anyone. Showing someone they are safe and that the listener is dependable is very important. Jesus and His disciples are a great example of what a healthy relationship looks like. They encouraged each other and grew in knowledge and wisdom from being together. They were better as individuals because they learned so much together.

Relationships also offer accountability, and addicts need both short-term and long-term accountability. Language is also key to building rapport. One should never use words like “those people” or phrases like “us and them.” These words can make the one dealing with addiction feel isolated and inferior. Learning the skill of how to build rapport with others is fundamental.

Know Your Role As a pastor, I can tell you this point is the most difficult. Understanding one’s role in a person’s process to recovery is an essential skill to have. For most, leading someone struggling with addiction through the process of recovery is not something most people are equipped to do. However, with the proper training, anyone can minister to someone well and refer him or her to the appropriate professional or program. Being humble and able to admit not having all the answers is critical for this skill. Passing someone on to a professional is not a sign of weakness but of strength. Knowing one’s role is biblical. In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul writes about Jesus, “And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” In these verses Paul is explaining that different people are equipped to do different things, but together they all can make great accomplishments. Pastors are wired to think we are supposed to “fix” people, the problem is that we are not always equipped to do.

Prayer and Meditation Being willing to pray in person and in private for someone who is struggling with addiction will go a long way to showing a person that he or she is really cared about. Philippians 4:6-7 illustrates the peace and understanding that can come from God through prayer. Prayer is important, but one should be careful not to over-spiritualize the recovery process. Prayer alone will not completely heal a person of addiction. As previously mention, recovery is a process and needs a program. Recovering addicts might say that having people pray for them was encouraging, but most likely they needed help beyond that. Prayer is one aspect of recovery that an addict will not get from anyone else other than a Christian.
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1 Comment

Gabe - July 5th, 2022 at 3:46pm

This is good