Christian Living

Spiritual Life

9 Ways to Love an Addict

Trying to love someone in active addiction is hard, frustrating, and can be downright heart wrenching.

In fact, apart from God, it is impossible. 

The person you once knew is gone. Now you are in relationship with someone who is in bondage to an ugly, flesh-eating, family-destroying drug, which consumes them: mind, body, and soul.

Trying to love an addict feels like picking a rose from a bush. You know there is beauty at the end of it, but you’ll go through a lot of pain to get there.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Gal 5:22-23 NIV

Here are nine ways you can love an addict, even when it hurts:


We can only love someone in addiction with the Spirit because the Spirit produces love. And this word “love” in Greek means "agape" or selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional. Paul could have used one of the other versions of this word, but he chose the one that spoke to the love of the Father. It is exactly the kind of love we are to have as well: Selfless. Sacrificial. Unconditional.


Of all the fruit of the Spirit, this may be the hardest one to exhibit. There is nothing joyful or joy-filled about this situation for anyone involved. If you try to show joy in your own strength you will become exhausted, frustrated, angry, or completely complacent. We need to rely on God. James 1:2 reminds us we should consider it pure joy, whenever we face trials ... the testing of our faith produces perseverance. If we focus in on our situation we'll find nothing but grief; but if we look beyond it, we may see how we can change. Finding joy, even in the trials.


Only God can offer supernatural peace. You don't have peace because your worry, anxiety and fear are ruling you. I understand your worry. You see your child, your spouse, or your friend, rather than the person the drug has consumed. Guarding your heart with peace shows love to a person in addiction because your peace overflows into their lives. When you are feeling peace, you speak peace into them, you pray peace over them, you respond with peace and in doing so, they will start to experience that peace and want it for their own life.


We live in a society of have it your way, when and however you want it. Nothing will teach you patience like addiction. There are no silver bullets, there is no perfect prayer to pray. Fasting will change you, but I cannot promise it will do anything for them. The only healer I can point you to is Jesus, and His timing on this is often way different than ours — which requires supernatural amounts of patience.


Job 6:14 NIV says, “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” We are to show kindness as He has shown us kindness. Our kindness, when faced with adversity, draws people to God. It begs the question, "Why? Why would you show me kindness when I have done these things to you?” You cannot show kindness to someone you are angry with or who frustrates you. It's only through the Holy Spirit that you can show kindness to those who are difficult to love.


And we must point them to the goodness of God. If all you ever do is remind them of His wrath, you might as well say your final goodbyes. They will run to the hills and may never look back. More than anything, they need to know there is a good God who loves them regardless of what they have done.


When an addict is spinning out of control and angry, responding to them with gentleness can disarm them. It tears down their defenses. It can also restore them and keep them from continuing to sin. Responding with gentleness is yet another way you can show love to people in addiction.


Be faithful in prayer. Pray Ephesians 3:20 prayers for them ... for He can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine. Dream of who your person will become and faithfully pray it over them. Don't focus on where they are now, but where they will be when they are restored.


Loving someone in active addiction means you are going to have to say the word, "No" a lot. By saying no to their negative behaviors, you are setting boundaries. Boundaries are a form of self-control, which sets limits on what they can or cannot do. You are saying to them, "Your destructive choices are not going to determine my life." When we respond this way we are exhibiting self-control.

Copyright © 2017 Dawn Owens. Used by permission.

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