I’m a fan of the new TV show “This is Us.” Week after week I watch this family make choices, both good and bad, and love each other through it all.
If you’re a fan but are behind on watching, I’ll warn you right now that there is a mini spoiler in here. I’ll give you time to look away.
OK, so Kevin is in rehab and it’s family day. Everyone gathers and they sit together in a room with the therapist and Kevin starts talking.
One thing that struck me that he said was “We’re a family of addicts.” Which of course didn’t go over well with his family. Much more was said in that room that wasn’t very pretty, but Kevin was right. Only no one wanted to face it.
An addiction is defined by dictionary.com as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming.” To end an addiction is traumatizing. Some would say “once an addict, always an addict.” You can never be completely free. But you can overcome it.
Baseball player Josh Hamilton battled drug and alcohol addiction and it almost ruined his career, not to mention his life. He got clean and sober and went back to baseball and was successful. Several years later, he confessed to having relapsed into cocaine and alcohol use. He was disappointed in himself, but he was aware that this would always be a struggle for him.
That’s the thing about addictions, especially when they involve chemical substances that affect your brain. You can’t overcome them on your own.
My father was an alcoholic. It’s not something we ever talked about in our home. But when he fell down the stairs and suffered a cracked skull, he started going through withdrawal that at first the doctors didn’t diagnose. They thought he might be having a seizure or something else. When it became clear that it was alcohol withdrawal, we couldn’t really deny it anymore.
But still we don’t talk about it. Even when he almost turned into oncoming traffic on a busy thoroughfare just days before my wedding. I made him pull over and let me drive so I wouldn’t die before I got married.
My dad went to a couple of AA meetings, but then he decided he could beat his problem on his own. It didn’t work. He died of a heart attack 11 years ago, undoubtedly related to the strain he had put on his body for all those years.
The actions of addicts affect everyone around them. Be it alcohol, drugs, sex, or technology, addictions break relationships. An addict needs the help of others to overcome their addictions.
I watched a bizarre documentary recently about animal addictions in Great Britain. (Watch “41 Dogs in My Home” on Netflix.) To a person, none of them would admit they might have a problem. One woman had 41 dogs. 41! Another man had 60 exotic animals. A woman had cats that couldn’t even be counted. Each one of them said they just loved the animals and couldn’t ever contemplate giving any of them away.
Relationships were lost (the man with the 60 exotic animals had been married at least twice) or severely strained. Finances were always a concern. Houses were a mess.
Yet they couldn’t see it.
We know a man who recently confessed to years and years of a well-hidden addiction. We were shocked. We had no idea. The effort it took to put on that façade must have been exhausting. He and his wife are now separated and he is absent from important family events. I’m praying restoration can happen. It’s heartbreaking. But he’s certainly not alone.
In “This is Us,” Kevin is going to need his family to listen to him, to support him and to help him beat this thing. I hope they’re willing to listen and to talk about it.
It’s not just a cliché; it really does first take admitting that you have a problem, not just being found out. If your heart doesn’t change, neither will your actions.
images from: usmagazine.com; bradfordhealth.com; viralnova.com