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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hope, Healing, and Dealing with Addiction

This is a great article from the July 2008 Ensign magazine (published by the LDS church). Addiction is a huge problem in our society and I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all addictions and weaknesses may be overcome.

Here is the beginning of the article. For the complete article, click on the link at the end.

It’s difficult to watch your spouse make harmful choices. But hope and peace are available— for both of you.

In my work as a therapist, rarely a day passes when I don’t hear from someone who wonders how he or she can help a spouse overcome an addiction. My answer often surprises these individuals. First, I state that it is not their responsibility to “fix” their spouse’s problem and that the addiction may be no fault of theirs. I then explain that while there are many things they can do to help a spouse overcome an addiction, they cannot control the situation for their spouse.

At the same time, I emphasize that they should not be passive in this situation. Individuals can do much to support their spouses in overcoming addictions while at the same time finding their own healing.

Understanding the Problem

People who engage in addictive behavior often live in a world of denial. They may tell themselves, “It’s not that bad,” “I’m not hurting anyone but myself,” or “I can stop anytime I want.” Similarly, husbands and wives are often in denial after first discovering their spouse’s behavior. They may find it difficult to accept that their spouse would engage in a particular activity, or they may choose to believe it was only an isolated incident. While it may have been a one-time event, more often the addiction is a bigger problem than the spouse first suspected.

Accepting the full scope of the problem is necessary for healing to begin. I advise spouses to calmly, and with love and support, encourage their partners to fully disclose the extent of their addictive behavior rather than allowing information to trickle in over time. Specific details may not be necessary; rather, it is more important to disclose the type of addictive behavior, its duration, and its frequency.

Upon learning of a spouse’s addiction, an individual may experience a wide range of emotions, including anger, shame, betrayal, fear, disgust, and humiliation. These feelings are normal. But how the person deals with these feelings can make a big difference in the outcome of the situation.

It is common for those in a crisis to think in erroneous ways. They should take care not to jump to conclusions, “catastrophize” things, overgeneralize, or get stuck in all-or-nothing thinking.1
One should avoid discussing difficult issues when tempers and emotions are at their peak. Physical, emotional, or verbal attacks will only make a painful situation worse. A bishop and a licensed therapist may be of help when a couple begins to discuss the damage the addictive behavior has caused.

Click on this link to see the rest of the article:

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