Addiction is like a looming thunderstorm—an ever-present cloud of uncertainty and worry hanging above our heads. Though we are always on edge, waiting for lightning to strike, whenever it does, it still catches us off guard, sending us into absolute panic. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle.
When my brother overdosed, he had been clean for two years. We were finally seeing the light after watching him battle the brutal consequences of addiction for more than a decade. After briefly seeing freedom on the horizon, we had been sucked by my brother’s relapse back into the raging, messy, and seemingly inescapable hurricane of addiction, a storm that buffets the addict while also tossing their loved ones to and fro.
The Savior Can Be Found at Rock Bottom
Each time I find myself lying in the depths of rock bottom, whether it stems from my brother’s addiction or because of other trials I am facing, I manage to stand up, steady my ship, and set sail once again. It might seem impossible, but that is the wonderful thing about the grace and mercy of the Savior: when I put my life in His hands, He makes the impossible, possible. As the Apostle Paul taught, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
My moments at rock bottom have helped me better realize the power of Jesus Christ’s Atonement. When I am grieving for my brother and I think no one understands what I’m going through, I know that the Savior does. I know that He also understands my brother’s addiction in a way no one else can. As much as I hate that sudden, dreadful fall to rock bottom, I am grateful for the moments the Savior has helped me stand when I do not have the strength to stand on my own. He strengthens me to have compassion for my brother instead of judging or blaming him, to empathize with him even though he struggles with something I can’t fully grasp, and to forgive him and to love him despite how many times I have been hurt by his choices.
Supporting Those Who Are Facing Addiction
My family suffered in silence regarding my brother’s struggles for a long time. We endured self-imposed shame for years. Addiction was taboo, so we didn’t talk about it. We thought drug addiction was not supposed to affect families who were doing their best to live the gospel and follow Jesus Christ. We were so afraid of what people would think if they found out. My parents constantly blamed themselves for my brother’s decisions; I would hide what was happening from my friends; and we would dodge all questions about my brother. Little did we know that not talking about it made our circumstances more painful.
Now I face my brother’s addiction differently. And that’s the key word: face. We seek support and we try to support others. There is no need to feel ashamed or to hide. It needs to be talked about, and those who have been hurt by it need less judgment and more support, compassion, understanding, and love. No one should have to suffer alone.
Finding Peace in the Tempest
The Savior’s way of bringing me peace is not always instantaneous or a jaw-dropping miracle. When I am facing the hurricane-force winds of addiction, I often think of when the Savior slept through the tempest while sailing on the Sea of Galilee. In that moment, His Apostles were terrified. They chose to focus on the storm instead of focusing on the Savior, yet He was right next to them the whole time. He never left their side and He came to their rescue—even when they doubted Him (See Mark 4:36-41).
I have come to learn that the Savior will never leave me to drown. In my life it has always been small instances of the Lord’s mercy that allow me to keep paddling against the stormy waves life throws at me. He enabled me to remain calm and hold myself together when my brother needed me, He has helped me muster up enough strength to get out of bed on days when I believe I have no strength left, and He continues to offer me peace despite my constant numbing fear of the unknown.
There Is Always Hope in Christ
The tragedies associated with drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning, or the many divorces due to pornography, addiction can seem like a daunting lost cause, but that does not always have to be the case. I now pray for understanding, empathy, and guidance. I recognize the personal and spiritual growth in myself that has stemmed from this decade-long trial. I use as many resources as I can, and I reach out to receive wonderful support from friends and Church leaders.
When you are surrounded by complete darkness, remember the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines”.
Most of all, I rely on the Savior and His healing and saving power. I know He is close to me in the moments when my heart is broken. Psalm 34:18 teaches, “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.”
He is not only watching the hurricane from the shore, but most often He is on the boat, facing the raging winds and waves with me. He continues to calm the tempestuous seas in my life and allows me to grow and feel true peace.