Dealing with addiction is scary, painful, and taxing on any family. Addiction is almost never expected, so most families don’t spend any time preparing for it. It’s as if you are moving through life normally and all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a whirlwind of insanity where the normal rules of life do not seem to apply, and often actually don’t.

Many addicts when questioned during some of the worst times in their addiction about how they arrived where they are, are baffled. They might basically know it was their decision to use drugs and alcohol along with other poor decisions that led them to the spot they are in; however, the truth is they often do not truly understand why or how they ended up there. Many times, they say things such as: “I never intended to let things get to this point” or “I’ve tried to stop myself, but I haven’t been able to.”  Parents echo these sentiments saying to themselves and others “How did this happen?” “Why did this happen to us?” “Did we do something wrong?” Or “Is there something wrong with our family or with our kid?” It is easy to ask these things and fall into negative reflection of the past. Parents and addicts alike can find themselves lamenting over unfulfilled plans and dreams and wishing things were different. Sometimes this can even spiral into severe self-pity or depression. Many are hoping they will wake up to find that it is all just a bad dream.

Clinging to these unmet expectations about life and just waiting for “all of this” to end can become part of the problem and keep any member of the family sick. “Am I supposed to be happy about it?” you ask!

No. At least not yet. What I will suggest is to begin a change of perspective that starts with acceptance of the current situation. The sooner the addiction and all that comes with it is accepted, the sooner healing can begin.

To find meaning in adversity is within our power, controlling the adversity we face is not. I have heard many addicts say, “I wish I had a different set of problems other than addiction” and although the sentiment is understandable, they only begin a spiritual awaking when they realize its futility.

By this time, we know there is no wishing it all away.

Once the addict or parents have accepted the problem, that is usually when they decide to seek help in facing it. That is when despair is often met with hope and love. They reach out and find PAL or other support where they learn they are not alone and that there is a way forward. Addicts find support groups of people they identify with and they see a way out too. This begins the process of a total change of perspective for many families. Every day there are people in recovery who share stories of how they thought addiction was the worst thing that could ever happen to them, they thought their lives were over at first, but after some time in recovery, they look back saying things like, “I wouldn’t change my journey.” “It took what it took for me to find a relationship with God.” “If I hadn’t gone down this road I would not be who I am today.”  “My relationship with my family is better than ever.”  Or “I appreciate what I have in life more than I ever have.”

Families of these same addicts often voice similar things in parent support group meetings saying things such as “I would never have chosen this path, but I have definitely learned a lot about myself as a result.”

Now, going back to the name of this post…

The concept that God writes straight with crooked lines is often expressed in recovery. It means that we often end up where we really wanted and needed to go (which is closer to God and becoming better people), but the journey does not usually go in the straight line we were hoping it would. Happiness, joy, self-awareness and spiritual development are all too often found in places we would not think to look or are convinced there could be nothing good there. We are lucky that God knows better!

I’ll leave you with a few questions to reflect on and ask yourself:

What are some of the crooked lines that have come out of your journey?

What have you learned that you thought you never would have?

What positive things have happened along the way to build your faith in God?

Ah yes, there’s that change in perspective.

Josh Azevedo is a guest blogger for PAL and is the Executive Director at The Pathway Program,