There are many lessons to be learned as we travel down the path of life with an addicted loved one. Some lessons are obvious; some are more subtle. Some lessons are about addiction. Some are about the addict. Still other lessons are about us. Almost all these lessons we learn are accompanied by pain, failure, and the steading voice of an experienced friend to help us through out confusion.

Having said that we know through experience that some lessons are more difficult (read “harder to accept’) than others. One of the very toughest lessons to accept and practice is:

Allowing others to be who they choose to be and make the mistakes they choose to make.

This is not only difficult, but at times seemingly impossible… especially when the “other” is someone we care for!

But understand this fact; a loved one’s addiction will either…

Break us – leaving us weak and ineffective

Harden us – leaving us angry and cynical

– Or –

Transform us – leading us to a place of healing and deep change

The choice is ours to make. We can choose to focus our time and energy on managing or fixing the addict (not our job) or choose to fix ourselves (definitely our job).

The path of deep change and real growth is a spiritual path involving:

Acceptance (powerlessness; step 1)


Surrender (to a Higher Power; steps 2 and 3)

So as this incredible year mercifully winds down let me encourage you to begin or continue your transformation journey by allowing the people in your life to be who they seem to want to be. Relinquish control. Practice humble acceptance and surrender and get on with the process of healing, growing, and becoming the person God designed you to be!

May you be deeply blessed this sacred season,



Ron Paterik is a practicing psychotherapist in Phoenix, Arizona with over 20 years’ experience. He is a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor and a Whole Life Leadership Mentor at Grand Canyon Counseling.