Welcome back my dear friends!
In the next few weeks you're going to be hearing from some different voices. It's so important that we share our stories and help break the stigma attached to addictions. I have yet to meet a person who doesn't know of someone who struggles with an addiction, it's a world-wide epidemic of magnificent proportions and it's so far from what God wants for us. Addiction is the antithesis to God's heart of peace, love and joy for us.
Today I have the pleasure of having Kelly Daniel on my blog to share her heart about her experience with addiction. Her story touched me deeply and I'm thankful she's here showing up in honesty, abounding in trust in God.
Reach out and connect with Kelly on social media, her contact information is at the bottom of the article and if you have a moment, pop by her blog, Primarily Inspired.
God bless you this week and please join me in giving a warm welcome to Kelly!
Let’s Get Real for a Moment.
Addiction has many faces. It can appear stable, on-track, and functional. Other times it rips apart relationships, turns loved ones into compulsive liars, thieves, and volatile individuals. Addiction takes hold of people and makes them unrecognizable to their families and friends and turns them against those that love them the most. Nor is it a stand alone issue that only affects the addicted, but rather it’s conditional ripple effect that wounds like shrapnel to anyone within range.
Addiction runs in my family, however, I’m not a believer that addiction is a ‘disease’ or a label that alleviates responsibility from those who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. So I won’t be referring it to as such - even if your opinions differ from mine. Rather, I believe that addiction is the equal and opposite reaction to a more serious set of conditions that run in my family: mental illness.
So, let’s talk about the real issue.
Statistics on Addiction
In 2014, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 43.6 million Americans aged 18+ experience some form of mental illness and 7.9 million of those Americans in that same study reported as having co-occurring mental and substance use disorder, which is the coexistence of a mental health disorder paired with substance abuse. Depression and anxiety rank the highest among mental disorders whereas illnesses can include bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
What many people don’t realize is that people can be afflicted with a combination of any of these conditions which, if undiagnosed, leads them towards a path of self-medication.
My Story About Addiction
I am the face of a sibling of addicts.
Out of my four older siblings, three of them battled addiction and one lost her life because of it. It always starts as a little pot here and there. Harmless (even I have tried pot before in my youth) [Leah here---> same! Click here to open a new window and read more about my angsty teen story]. However, pot tends to involve you with less than savory people, who then can potentially lead you towards other drugs or huffing to achieve the same high.
Before you know it you’ve lost your kids, your relationship with your family, and call jail home. Your life becomes a revolving door of people who enable your behavior. The process tears your parent’s marriage apart, social media allows you to showcase your failures for all to see, and leaves everyone on the outside feeling sorry for you.
Or maybe that was just me.
In reflection, especially as my sister’s anniversary rolls around each year, I am reminded of addiction and am flooded with emotions surrounding the problem and the strain it put on my family.
I was in elementary school when I found my sister, having tried to overdose, lying in her room with an empty aspirin bottle next to her. Or, that time she tried to attack me in my bedroom while I was sleeping because she wanted to find the phone my parents took out of her room.
I also attended my first AA and NA meetings for my sisters before I hit middle school. I was all too familiar with home family therapy sessions, the local police, court, and probation officers. My brother, he moved back home too at one point, would manipulate my father against my mother while drifting further into alcoholism and forging prescriptions. For me, this was daily life growing up; a circumstance I couldn’t escape even if I wanted to.
But, as the saying goes: time stops for no one and here we are years later still dealing with the destruction addiction has imprinted on my family. I still carry memories of anger, hurt, sadness and even sometimes, gratitude. My childhood is a blur because of what addiction has irrevocably done to it and the family I once had and enjoyed. Moving forward, we, as a family, were left to pick up the pieces and try to make them fit again the best that they could - even though a large piece will be forever missing.
I’ve never expected any of them to make amends, whichever step that might be. I remember the counting of chips and the celebrations of sobriety. Relationships continue to be strained, hurt remains for some of us but for me, putting one foot in front of the other through Christ has always, and will, be my refuge.
I am not a victim of addiction. I am the sibling and advocate for those struggling with mental illness. I am a daughter of Christ and it is He who gives me the strength to push beyond the frustrations and circumstance of my family or its past. I am no longer ashamed or hurt because of the afflictions of others upon me, rather stronger in ways I never would have been. I find solace in knowing my heavenly father has received my sister and has ended her own suffering here in this life.
I pray He continues to be close to my other siblings as they navigate their lives without addiction. I sing praises to bear witness to the lives they’ve created since - having found love and family for themselves. I praise God in moments of happiness and call on him for forgiveness in times of judgment as, even I, need reminding that we’re human and therefore fallible.
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."
Battling addiction is a family effort and I am thankful for my experiences only to be a reflection of hope and strength during what appears to be a dark season of life.
"Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises."