What can I do to help my loved one struggling with an addiction?

This is the most commonly asked question that we receive, so rest assured that you are not alone. Caring for someone that is suffering with an addiction is heart wrenching, and can produce painful experiences of powerlessness over another person’s behavior. Finding balance between supporting a child, sibling, significant other, parent, friend, or anyone close to you while not enabling their addiction to continue can be tricky. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation website proves resources for family members and loved ones that are struggling, including topics on how to care for yourself through it all.

Addiction does not happen in a vacuum, and it is important to seek help for yourself. There are twelve-step groups that provide support, including Al-Anon. Fellowships such as these provide an opportunity to share experience, strength, and hope for what can seem like a hopeless situation. We also encourage you to seek out our community forums to connect anonymously with others who are going through something similar.

Saint Monica is an excellent saint to reach out to as an intercessor through your difficulty. Through patience, boldness, love, and trust in the Lord, she found freedom from the bondage of her son’s (St. Augustine) and husband’s belligerent behavior for years before they found healing. You can learn more about Saint Monica here.

What is my life going to look like in recovery?

Those that struggle with addict typically struggle with letting go of control. For many, the source of our addiction seems to be the only thing that we can control at all, even though an honest look at our lives would indicate that the addiction has complete control over us. There is no knowing what a life in recovery is going to look like, but freedom, happiness, a fellowship of friends that support and care about you are most likely in your near future if you choose to let go and lean into the will of God. If you find that those are not things that you’re interested, your misery can certainly be refunded!

Most people who get to experience sobriety from their addiction find themselves interested in the surprising nature of events that take place when they are present for their own lives and the people around them. Each day, well lived, can produce opportunities for growth and getting to know more about yourself and your Creator. You may find some difficulties facing the realities that you were previously hiding from, but the fruit of that comes in the form of being able to hold your head high and look yourself and others in the eye knowing that you’ve done your best today.

What should I look for in a sponsor?

Sponsorship is one of several overlaps between the way we work through the twelve steps of recovery and experience the sacraments of the Church. Both are processes that we do not go through alone, and a relationship with a sponsor is a great gift.

Most important in making the decision about who to find as a sponsor is ensuring that they have gone through all twelve steps and are continuing to practice recovery principles in all of their affairs. You should genuinely “want what they have”, that is, a commitment to their recovery and a self-sacrificial lifestyle that is available to helping others.

Your sponsor should be able to relate to some of your life experiences, be willing to share their own, and maintain confidentiality regarding the things you discuss together. Having a similar faith can be beneficial when it comes to discussing spiritual practices, devotions, and prayer types.

Sometimes having a sponsor who has a contrasting personality can be beneficial. Accountability and encouragement can both be gained by working closely with a sponsor. If you have a tendency to be hands off with some of the work associated with going through the steps, finding someone with a rigid, hard-lined approach to mentorship may work well. If you are often too hard on yourself, having another voice to show mercy and compassion can help offset your destructive thinking.

What does "sacrament" mean?

As per the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):

We recognize that the Sacraments have a visible and invisible reality, a reality open to all the human senses but grasped in its God-given depths with the eyes of faith. When parents hug their children, for example, the visible reality we see is the hug. The invisible reality the hug conveys is love. We cannot “see” the love the hug expresses, though sometimes we can see its nurturing effect in the child.

The visible reality we see in the Sacraments is their outward expression, the form they take, and the way in which they are administered and received. The invisible reality we cannot “see” is God’s grace, his gracious initiative in redeeming us through the death and Resurrection of his Son. His initiative is called grace because it is the free and loving gift by which he offers people a share in his life, and shows us his favor and will for our salvation. Our response to the grace of God’s initiative is itself a grace or gift from God by which we can imitate Christ in our daily lives.

The saving words and deeds of Jesus Christ are the foundation of what he would communicate in the Sacraments through the ministers of the Church. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Church recognizes the existence of Seven Sacraments instituted by the Lord. They are the Sacraments of Initiation (BaptismConfirmation, the Eucharist), the Sacraments of Healing (Penance and the Anointing of the Sick), and the Sacraments at the Service of Communion (Marriage and Holy Orders). Through the Sacraments, God shares his holiness with us so that we, in turn, can make the world holier.

What treatment options are available for Catholic clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians?

Addiction cuts across all demographics, and even a life dedicated to serving the Church does not make one immune to the effects of alcoholism and addiction. In fact, there are some challenges that clergy face that make their circumstances more likely to create addictive behaviors.

Guest House has been offering residential treatment and long-term care for Catholic clergy and religious brothers and sisters for over 60 years. Their alumni hold leadership positions throughout the Church and go on to lead meaningful lives, bringing their parish and communities to new spiritual levels as they grow in their recovery. If you suspect that a religious leader in your community is struggling with addiction and showing signs of dependance, make a call to Guest House and they will be happy to walk you through the situation and how they can help (including intervention). They can be reached at (800) 626-6910.