Families often try a variety of problem solving techniques to “fix” a substance use disorder, here are a few:
- Give the afflicted a car so they can get a job.
- Pay their rent so that can have a roof over their head.
- Change neighborhoods, schools, jobs, even move out of state to avoid bad influences.
These attempts to solve the problem may appear to work temporarily but when one has a SUD, the essential work is recovery, not making sure the cell phone plan is adequate and the car is gassed up. One family I know made progress once mom said an extremely controversial statement paired with right action, “Leah, my last monetary gift to you has been purchased; I bought you a life insurance policy so that if your addiction kills you we can give you a decent burial.”
But here’s the lovely thing about that statement. Leah blinked. She heard her mom. She realized that a new action had been taken and the old ways were no more.
Leah’s mom gave up on threats, punishment and then relenting. She stopped pleading. She faced her worse fear and made the decision that if that day comes, she will be prepared but what she will NEVER do again is contribute to the insanity through misguided attempts to solve the wrong problem.
Leah’s mom in essence is testing her belief in God – in a good way. This came after lots of education and spiritual searching. This is how one woman leaned into the story of Abraham and Isaac. You remember when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son? It’s a really weird story and no way was God actually going to let that happen! But Abraham put one foot in front of another in obedience, choosing to trust God with the results. Leah’s mom was familiar with this story and she had been taught to look for God’s tenderness on display throughout the saga of Abraham and Sarah. With that contextual backdrop she decided that the God of tenderness would hear her prayers whether or not his answer was as she wished and that was good enough. Not all of us buy and then declare the purchase of a life insurance policy. But the point is, Leah’s mom did something different. She did what she could do AND trusted God with the results. Leah soon made the decision to go into treatment. It doesn’t always work out. But in this case it did. It never works out, 100% of the time, if we refuse to seek a solution for the correct problem. In this case, the problem was addiction not joblessness, not transportation, not access to communication.