I remember standing in the sunny kitchen of our big, big house. My toddler and infant playing on the floor in the sunlight. I asked my Al-Anon buddy on the phone; “is it time to leave him?’ When do you leave an addict?
The woman I spoke with that morning knew the question well. Two children of her own and her husband had been in an out of rehab twice. She answered my question with another question. What is God telling you to do?
Frustrated, I just wanted an answer. How bad was bad enough to take the children and leave? When do I stop the threats and act? Other nagging questions followed: Where would I go? What would I do? How would we live?
Attending Al-Anon meetings regularly gave me an understanding and peace that my situation was not hopeless. Other women and men lived through ordeals worse than mine eventually regaining their sanity and serenity. None of the outcomes were identical; they were similar, yet tailored to each family specifically.
Here is the hard part. As simple as the Al-Anon 12 Steps seem on the surface, the implementation takes courage, patience, and strength. The hurts, habits, and hang-ups that you and your loved ones developed over a lifetime are not going to correct themselves. Building a community of supportive people who “get” what you are dealing with is crucial!
When to Leave An Addict?
No one can tell you that. No one can climb completely into your world and experience what you experience. The inexperienced mass media world will tell you; the minute he does this, or that or says or does not do this or that you should leave. Taking the advice of fools only makes you a fool. Proverbs 12:14-15
A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, And the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him. The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
As I watched my children play that bright spring day, my friend spoke words I will never forget. “It feels like you are a frog sitting in a pot of water waiting to boil.” If the temperature is turned up slowly enough the frog’s body just adjusts to the water, until it is too late. Until the water boils the frog to death. At one point during this struggle, I did call an addiction intervention specialist. Read about that in Calling An Addiction Interventionist.
Addiction, Codependency, Anger, Depression and a host of other degenerative diseases typically get worse over time. As life becomes unmanageable in any of these situations, people and families begin to isolate. Rarely do they get better on their own. Instead, the pot begins to boil.
Listen to Wise Godly Counsel
I talk during a crisis just to make sure I am still alive. I am an awesome rationalizer. Plus, I am a highly educated smart woman. I would never let myself get in a situation where the father of my children hid his paychecks to pay for his drug addiction. That is just not who I was/am. Yet, this is exactly what was happening. The fire under my family pot had started to burn hotter.
Here is my best experience, strength and hope for “When to Leave an Addict.”
Be quiet and listen.
Listen to what “old timers” in the AA, Al-anon, Celebrate Recovery programs say about their own lives.
Sit in on the meetings, hear the stories, listen to the 12 Steps, read the literature about adddicts.
Listen to what your trustworthy friends are saying.
Find a sponsor or an accountability buddy to listen to your whole tale and walk with you for a while.
Read your Bible and listen.
Listen for your own heart to speak the truth.
Prayer for your husband. Here are a few Powerful 30 Second Prayers to Pray over Your husband. 14 Days 30 seconds a day see what God will move.
When to Hop Out of the Burning Pot
Did my friend tell me to leave my husband that morning? No. Did she encourage me to just stick it out one more day one more hour? No. Did she rationalize or make excuses, No. Did she listen? Yes!
She offered to watch the kids while I went to Al-Anon. She offered to call again later in the week. She encouraged me to keep listening and trusting that I would know what to do when.
She also encouraged me to look at what I could and could not control. To keep the Serenity Pray on hand as well as the first three steps of the 12 Steps.
- We admitted we were powerless over our dependencies and that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.
I did not make a decision that day or for many months to come. I did remain in close contact with my Al-Anon community. I did step up my participation in church and community activities. I increased my prayer time and reading time.
Act-On What You Know To Be True
Physical abuse is never OK. Find a trusted member of the community or a church. Share what is happening in your household. Tell the truth, make a plan, find accountability partners. Trust that if the time comes to leave you will make the right choices and changes to move forward with your life and the lives of your children.
Trust God, Clean House, Tell the Truth
Just like me with my friend many years ago, I am sure you came to this article looking for a clear answer on when to leave an addict. Only you and God know that answer. I encourage you to do the things above and get clear between yourself and God. Get Quiet and listen.