One of the hardest problems you can face is being among family members and substance abuse. The reasons someone gets caught up in the lifestyle of drugs or alcohol aren’t always evident. Most of the time it is because they are trying to self-medicate due to some internal pain.

Learning to help your loved one overcome addiction and find a workable substance abuse treatment can be difficult. If you are needing help in this area reach out to a Christian counselor near you.

What is substance abuse?

In today’s terms substance has become the umbrella term for any type of chemical whether it is smoked, consumed, or injected into the body to create a euphoria feeling. The term substance abuse is sometimes used interchangeably with drug addiction. Addiction is the term used to describe the inability of a person to “control” their need for a substance. This can result in changes in the brain which continues to be a continual issue that causes relapse behaviors.

Substance abuse is sometimes used interchangeably with drug addiction or alcoholism. Society most commonly portrays these individuals as homeless, which is not always the case. Overcoming abuse isn’t always as easy as just having willpower. Though many people do not agree, addiction is considered a disease according to the AMA (American Medical Association). It is now more commonly referred to as Substance Abuse Disorder.

What are some common signs of substance abuse?

The leading five signs of substance abuse are the following:

Anxiety/depression: You may notice new behavior in your loved one that is not typical for him or her. He or she may exhibit the inability to focus or remain still. This could be an indicator of anxiety induced by substance abuse. Depression may be presented in the form of sleeping more than usual, being irritable for no obvious reason, or withdrawing from normal social activities.

Change in body care and appearance:  Most commonly a person who is experiencing substance abuse will not care for themselves as they did before the abuse. Their complexion may show signs of acne or jaundice. You may even notice marks on their arms called needle tracks.

There is also the chance that you may notice the person has lost an extreme amount of weight in a short amount of time. This is common because substance abuse affects how a person eats.

Another aspect of body care that is disregarded by a person who is abusing substances is the change in sleep patterns. Some substances will cause them to sleep more and others will have the opposite effect.

Work or school issues: An onset of troubles at school or work can indicate a problem with substance abuse. A person who is having problems with substance abuse will often change how he or she handles work and school. It could be evident by the person not following through with responsibilities he or she once handled with ease.

Seemingly withdrawn: A person who is becoming consumed with substance abuse will often withdraw from those who are close to them. He or she may do this to look for a private place to use the substance.

Detrimental behaviors:  When a person is spending a significant amount of money on an addiction, he or she may begin to exhibit behaviors that can be troublesome. Theft is one of the major ways a person will try to get money for his or her habit. This behavior can result in legal actions or job loss.

Mood swings: A person who is becoming addicted can be affected by psychological factors that will cause him or her to have noticeable changes in his or her mood. This is mainly due to the response of the body to the addiction to the substance.

What are the most common reasons for substance abuse?

While there are several reasons that a person will use to validate consuming or injecting substances, there are a few that are at the top of the list for most substance abusers. Regardless of what many may think, substance abuse can be a risk factor based on genetics and mental disorders.

The lifestyle that the person is exposed to can also be a risk factor for someone to become consumed with substance abuse. Lifestyle risks could include parental guidance and an early introduction to drugs.

Drug addiction can start at a young age. This is why it is important to take note of your child’s behavior changes. When you notice something that is not normal behavior, don’t hesitate to initiate a conversation about it. The person may or may not want to talk about it, and this could also be an indicator that there is a substance abuse problem.

When you are trying to find the right way to initiate the conversation, seek guidance from God’s word. God urges us to be present in our child’s life so that we can teach him or her how to live a healthy and faithful life. Even hard conversations about substance abuse can point your child to the truth.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4, NASB

Am I enabling or helping?

When it comes to substance abuse and family interaction, there is a very thin line between what is helping and what is enabling. Enabling is when you overlook the behavior to maintain a relationship. When you overlook the drug use of your spouse so that there is no confrontation is a form of giving them permission to use the substance.

Putting your loved one’s needs before yours so that they do not get upset is also a form of enabling. The best way to help is to encourage your loved one to seek Christian substance abuse treatment with counselors who understand how to help him or her.

Some other forms of enabling are:

  • Ignoring the problem exists.
  • Justify their behavior.
  • Keep them close out of fear.
  • Continually giving them money.
  • Trying to control the situation.
  • Lying about their actions.

If you notice that you are exhibiting any of these behaviors concerning your loved one, you should contact a Christian counselor who can help you help him or her.

Do recovery programs work?

Sometimes getting your loved one to agree to seek substance abuse treatment is difficult. Most of the time the person feels that he or she can stop the abuse. That is the relapse mentality of addiction.

This mentality keeps the person believing that they control the substance. They don’t realize that in reality, it is the other way around. Learning to give up this mentality is difficult. It takes making a choice and seeking the resources to help with that choice.

Finding a good recovery program is beneficial to overcoming the addiction. Whether or not the program “works” is a matter of the person “working” the program. It takes time and consistency to overcome addiction.

With the help of faith-based treatment programs, addiction can be overcome. One of the most powerful promises we have is that there is nothing too big for God to give us the strength to overcome.

No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13, NASB

Biblical perspectives to the 12-step program.

In recent years, Christian counselors have provided addicts with a resource that is based on scripture. Celebrate Recovery has proven to be a resource that can help reduce the possibility of relapse after your loved one has chosen to participate in substance abuse treatment.  By using biblical perspectives that are similar to the 12 steps of other programs, Celebrate Recovery continues to be popular among Christian counselors.

1. We are powerless in our sinful nature.

For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. – Romans 7:18, NASB

2. God’s power is greater than ours.

for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure. – Philippians 2:13, NASB

3. Give it to God.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. – Romans 12:1, NASB

4. Take a moral inventory.

Let’s examine and search out our ways, And let’s return to the LORD. – Lamentations 3:40, NASB

5. Confess our wrongs.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much. – James 5:16, NASB

6. Allow God to change us.

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. – James 4:10, NASB

7. Forgive our shortcomings.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9, NASB

8. Make a list of who we hurt and offer an apology.

Treat people the same way you want them to treat you. – Luke 6:31, NASB

9. Make a personal apology when possible unless it will cause harm.

Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. – Matthew 5:23-24, NASB

10. Continue to evaluate ourselves and quickly admit when we are wrong.

Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall. – 1 Corinthians 10:12, NASB

11. Continue to seek a relationship with God.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. – Colossians 3:16, NASB

12. Share this hope and message with others.

Brothers and sisters, even if a person is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. – Galatians 6:1, NASB

The next step.

When your loved one has come to the point that he or she is ready to seek substance abuse treatment, it is best to guide him or her through the process. With a counselor guiding him or her through it, the addict takes on the responsibility of initiating the change that needs to take place in his or her life. Not only does it help in that area, but most programs won’t let anyone but the person seeking treatment request an application.

Remember to be supportive of this decision so that your loved one knows you are wanting what’s best for him or her. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a compassionate Christian counselor for help in overcoming issues for family members and substance abuse.

“Sitting Man”, Courtesy of Kelly Sikkema,, CC0 License; “Sharps Disposal”, Courtesy of Hennie Stander,, CC0 License; “Through the Tunnel”, Courtesy of Taylor Deas-Melesh,, CC0 License; “Bottles”, Courtesy of Artem Labunsky,, CC0 License