Today we're excited to spotlight The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis, plus author guest post, and giveaway!
Meet Dave Connis!
Meet The Temptation of Adam!
6 Ways to Help Friends Who Struggle With Addiction
Epidemic is a dramatic word with jagged edges, but with over twenty million Americans over the age of 12 experiencing some form of addiction, this number excludes tobacco, epidemic is a fair word. Addiction itself is a symptom of living in a broken down planet. Each person, the addict and non-addict alike is a multilayered collection of hurts and hope. However, addicts face a specific path of suffering much like an avalanche. The smallest of triggers leads to a quick accumulation of weight, where the only trajectory is down and the only stop is hard and violent.
Twenty million Americans over the age of twelve.
This sort of sadness isn’t hidden in back roads and under overpasses. It’s in our friend’s houses, showing up in Snapchat feeds, and eating at your cafeteria tables. It’s not a distant idea. With millions of ways to be hurt, we all have some sort of battle in us, You don’t have to go across the sea to find hurt. So it makes sense that you don’t have to go far to find addicts.
The addict’s hurt is overwhelming, and trying to help someone facing such an overwhelming monolith of a path as facing one’s own addiction is a big task. Keep in mind that I am NOT a licensed professional (though a few have told me that the list below isn’t pure heresy) and I am NOT an expert on dealing with addiction. I’m only talking out of my experiences as a friend helping another hurting friend. There are so many stages of addiction and because people are subjective, the ways that addiction is handled are equally as subjective, but I’ve compiled are five tips to consider when you start helping your deeply hurting friend. It’s also worth noting that these tips assume a friend who’s willing to accept your/any help.
1. Be a friend, not an “accountability partner.”
An accountability partner is a coach, a guide. A friend is a presence, a showing up when tears are spilt, an unmoving ear. An accountability partner works toward a goal, a friend works toward healing. It’s important you realize that you can’t be everything they need to heal and that’s okay. Also, know that you’re not a professional and that’s equally okay. So are boundaries. Your job is love them as hard as you can. Not break their addiction.
2. Never be surprised.
If they ever confess secret things to you, never be surprised. For multiple reasons. One: humans are all capable of doing every bad thing under
the sun. There is no original and creative bad deed. Everything’s been done. Two: Surprise is a good way to alienate your friend. There is a lot of shame associated with confession. It’s an incredibly brave, hard, and painful thing to do. Think about it. If a confession is met with a gasp and a recoil, that’s signaling, “I didn’t think you were capable of this” or maybe “How are you this broken?” These sorts of non-verbal acts act as a wall, confirm their shame, and put even more of a divide between you and the person you’re trying to help/love.
If a confession is met with calm and an almost, I say this cautiously, indifferent face, any “othering” is disarmed. It’s as if their confession was as mundane and normal as confessing they enjoy pizza. Remember, they’re already feeling isolated and separated from others. Not being surprised closes down that gap.
3. Talk regularly.
A staple of a Twelve Step program is to frequently talk to someone who’s already been through the twelve-step process, a sponsor. Of course, people who haven’t been through AA don’t know the twelve-step process; so don’t feel that you need to be their guide them through that specific process. Your job is being there. You get the honor of guiding them toward people who are further along on the path of recovery, looking at higher mile markers.
Also, when you talk, remember that your conversations don’t need to be intense every time. Sure, ask if they’re talking to people who know the struggle, but also ask about their day. Ask questions about what they’re learning about their addiction, but also ask what they thought of the last episode of Stranger Things. You don’t have to talk about the meaning of life in every call, but always be sure to tell them you love them.
4. Remember they’re more than their addiction.
Any addict is made up of loves, hopes, hurts, and wants. A drug addict really might like America’s Next Top Model. A sex addict might fight to the death to protect their opinion that Papa John’s is better than Pizza Hut. One addict might like Coldplay. Another might like bluegrass. Don’t separate the small and big things that make up your friend from the part that’s dark with hurt. They are still humans.
5. Work to understand addiction.
Do your own research into what addiction is. Don’t just read a listicle giving you six tips on how to help your friend. Listen to counselors. Read articles from scientific journals. Listen to TED talks. If they’re willing to talk about it, ask people who’ve gone through it before. Learning about what your friend is going through and facing will help you help well.
6. Gently show them the path of help.
Breaking addiction doesn’t happen in isolation. There needs to be a support structure in place. Help them find that support structure, include an adult who can help (a parent, a teacher, guidance counselor, youth leader, a friend’s mom, anyone your friend could trust), and go with them when they confess to that person. Confession takes incredible amounts of bravery. Affirm this in them.
Also, definitely be a part of the structure, but it’s incredibly important that you don’t attempt to be the support structure all by yourself. It’s hard being in the middle of someone’s hurt, so you’ll need the support just as much as your friend.
By: Dave Connis
Release Date: November 21, 2017
One winner will receive a copy of The Temptation of Adam (US & Canada only).