Codependency, Chronic Pain, & Prescription Drug Abuse

painful loveI think that most counselors would agree with my assessment that one of the most difficult counseling scenarios is with someone who experiences chronic pain and is abusing their prescription pain medicines. It is such a trap. Their pain makes medical relief a necessity, yet the tendency to over medicate makes it personally destructive.

However, whenever the subject is addressed by a loved one or counselor the legitimacy of the pain makes for a quick and undeniable defense. “What, do you want me to live in pain? Is that any life to live? How is that humane?” The concerned person is made to feel heartless. Compassion (temporarily) mutes the concern about self-destruction through abusing medications. Eventually, the destructiveness of the substance abuse becomes overwhelming again, but the next attempt to intervene falls into the same cycle.

In this post, I do not intend to try to answer the chronic pain-substance abuse problem. Instead, I hope to use that as a metaphor to help us see why so many people who struggle with codependency fail to see their struggle.

First, I should attempt to define codependency. Because it is a popular term instead of a clinical term, it has no accepted definition. This is part of the reason people do not admit codependency; even the “experts” cannot agree on what they should be looking for.

Codependency (as I am defining it here) is the relying on other people as the source of one’s emotional stability, purpose, and identity. It manifests itself as a compulsive “need to be needed.” It is often very passive in relationships, taking a servants role until it feels slighted and then becoming very indignant upon feeling “used.” Ultimately, codependency seeks to “live off” (although it would never admit it) other people to feed its insatiable hunger to be loved.

How is that like chronic pain and prescription drug abuse? When you confront someone who is relating codependently for their unrealistic expectations, false interpretations of your actions/motives, or for over-reliance upon you; you are met with a similar series of rhetorical questions. “Am I wrong for thinking I should be able to depend on you? Is it wrong for me to want to be loved? It is not good for man to be alone, is it? I thought if I worked so hard to meet my needs you would do the same, but I guess that is selfish of me?”

In part, they are right. We were meant to live in relationships. Christ-honoring relationships are mutually beneficial. It is reasonable to ask people to be dependable. They are probably right about more than that. They likely were very service-oriented in the relationship (possibly to an extent that promoted laziness in the other person). The other person may well have become comfortable with this “new normal” and had taken it for granted.

So what is being missed? Why are we saying that the codependent person is doing something wrong? They are trying to use relationship for a purpose larger than that for which relationships were prescribed. This is where it parallels prescription drug abuse. Codependents use relationships as a God-replacement instead of viewing them as one of God’s blessings.

When you look at the functions of relationships described in paragraph five (giving emotional stability, purpose, and identity), those are functions only God can fulfill. When the codependent gets angry with their friends, family or spouse, they are in effect saying, “You make a really bad god!” And, again, they are right. What the codependent misses is that it is they who “deified” their friend.

This post is more about seeing the problem than solving it. If you see yourself in this post, I would recommend:

Wisdom is Content and Experience

wise-kidI was having a conversation with my 7 year old recently about toys. In my unbiased opinion he was showing a great deal of wisdom and self-control regarding finances and his primary idol. He would ask how much the various objects of his affection cost. We would look up the best available price (on my favorite “toy” – my smart phone) and he would tell me whether he thought it was a good deal.

I was impressed with his ability to gauge the value of toys. He was able to recognize overpriced plastic junk and once its value-to-cost ratio was revealed his affection for it subsided. Having him do chores to pay for extra “I wanna’s” and reading him Dave Ramsey bedtime stories (I’m not making that up) was really paying off. I was proud of him and I told him so.

Later that day he tried to apply his financial wisdom to an area of lesser experience – vehicles. We were driving and he said, “Papa, I know why Mama likes her van so much – it was cheap.” At that point I tried to describe the difference between something being “a good value” and it being “cheap.” He replied, “Yes, and Mama’s van was cheap.”

No matter how I tried to explain that a four year old, low mileage vehicle after a model change was “a good value,” all he could understand was that the van was cheap. When he got outside his sphere of experience he instantly transformed from a very wise 7 year old to an ill-informed car buyer (luckily we’ve got nine more years to work on that one).

Things that are obvious with children are often easy to overlook in adults or ourselves. Having a firm grasp and ability to apply a wise principle in one situation does not make one wise in all situations, or even in all situations of a similar nature (in this case, about finances).

I think, as Christians, we can often miss this. (Non-Christians also have their versions of this.) There can be a tendency to think that a timeless biblical principle is applicable to every situation within its subject matter. With this belief, we confidently make a biblical assertion and can’t hear reasons against it. We wind up sounding like my son talking about buying vehicles.

For example, consider conflict between two people. Many Christians will automatically say you should “take the log out of your eye before you take the speck of out the other person’s eye (Matt 7:3-5).” This is a wise and good biblical principle that applies to conflict.

But Scripture also says that “it is to a man’s glory to overlook an offense (Prov 19:11, similar to Matt 7:1-2),” calls us to cease engaging with those who are unwilling to healthily engage in conflict (Matt 7:6 and Prov 26:4), and instructs us to admonish those who are in sin (Col 3:16). Similar examples could be given to various sins, forms of suffering, and relational dynamics.

What is needed to rightly apply these various biblical principles that apply to conflict? The ability to assess which directive best fits a given conflict; which comes through experience. Newlywed couples spend their first months and years trying to figure out how significant their differences are so they know with biblical principles to apply. Those in unhealthy friendships get caught trying to discern which of these applies.

What we see from this is that the sufficiency of Scripture is the foundation, but not the exclusive criteria, for the competency of the counselor. There are also the ability to assess the most relevant variables in a situation and the severity of a given struggle in order to apply the relevant portions of God’s Word.

This does not diminish the relevance or power of God’s Word, but it does highlight one of the key variables involved in “rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).” It reveals the necessity of being able accurately understand/assess/interpret a person and situation as well as you can a biblical text.

As we counsel (offer hope and direction) from the Bible, let us be sure to assess how well we understand the person and situation to be sure that our application of Scripture is wise and doesn’t cause us to sound wise in circumstances we know well and like my 7 year old discussing vehicles in areas we lack experience.

Tweets of the Week 7.29.14

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

Help for Couples Recovering from Adultery or Pornography: Video Tandem 9 of 9

When sexual sin impacts a marriage there is often a great deal of confusion exacerbated by shame. A couple is not sure what to do and is embarrassed to ask for help. The result is often either passivity (pretending everything is okay or that things will get better without help) or reactivity (taking a bold action with little sense of purpose or intent to follow through). The False Love and True Betrayal series are meant to provide couples with guidance for these difficult times.

These two, complementing seminars are each comprised of 9 steps and are meant to supplement a mentoring or counseling relationship. The presentation material is longer for the earlier steps than it is for the latter steps for two reasons. First, the early steps are the time of greatest confusion and, therefore, require more guidance. Second, once a solid foundation is laid for restoration the latter steps become more self-evident.

These materials are meant to guide a couple through the marital restoration phase — taking a marriage that is broken or in crisis and getting back to basic working order.

The Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminar series is meant to guide a couple through the marital enrichment phase — taking a marriage that is in basic working order and refining it to be increasingly, mutually satisfying. Often it is a misunderstanding between restoration and enrichment that derails a couples sincere efforts at marital reconciliation after the discovery of sexual sin.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

True Betrayal – Step Nine

True Betrayal: Step 9 from Equip on Vimeo.

False Love – Step Nine

False Love: Step 9 from Equip on Vimeo.

MP3 of SBC Panel Discussion on “Mental Illness & the Mission of the Church”

NAMB's LoveLoud  hosted a breakfast and panel discussion on the church's role in helping those suffering with mental illness at the SBC convention in Baltimore, Md.On June 11 at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention LoveLoud ministries, a part of the North American Mission Board, sponsored a panel discussion on “Mental Illness and the Mission of the Church.” I was honored to serve on this panel with Frank Page, Ed Stetzer, and the moderator Ryan West.

Over the course of this discussion we addressed questions such as:

  • How many and which of our daily life struggles should be called mental illness?
  • Why do people who struggle with mental health experience such negative stigmas?
  • What does the gospel say to those (either individuals or families) struggling through mental health issues? How does the application of the gospel’s message change in light of the origin/cause of a given mental health struggle and when the cause is unclear?
  • What about the relationship between the gospel, theology, and other disciplines—that may or may not be helpful—such as psychology?
  • What is the role of the church in ministering to individuals/families struggling with mental health?
  • How does the church differ from other organizations/entities in a community that offers help? What kinds of things is the church in a unique position to do for mental health concerns that are otherwise unavailable if the church does not fulfill her mission?
  • What would you like to say to pastors/leaders concerning walking with people long-term through these issues?
  • What are the realities that churches need to consider before jumping into a formal counseling ministry?
  • How does a church begin a ministry to people struggling through mental health issues?

I was grateful to be a part of this conversation and am glad to see the church become increasingly willing to engage this important of part of soul care.

To listen to the MP3 of this panel discussion click here.

To read the Baptist Press story on this panel discussion click here.

For my article “Towards a Christian Perspective on Mental Illness” click this link.

Help for Couples Recovering from Adultery or Pornography: Video Tandem 8 of 9

When sexual sin impacts a marriage there is often a great deal of confusion exacerbated by shame. A couple is not sure what to do and is embarrassed to ask for help. The result is often either passivity (pretending everything is okay or that things will get better without help) or reactivity (taking a bold action with little sense of purpose or intent to follow through). The False Love and True Betrayal series are meant to provide couples with guidance for these difficult times.

These two, complementing seminars are each comprised of 9 steps and are meant to supplement a mentoring or counseling relationship. The presentation material is longer for the earlier steps than it is for the latter steps for two reasons. First, the early steps are the time of greatest confusion and, therefore, require more guidance. Second, once a solid foundation is laid for restoration the latter steps become more self-evident.

These materials are meant to guide a couple through the marital restoration phase — taking a marriage that is broken or in crisis and getting back to basic working order.

The Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminar series is meant to guide a couple through the marital enrichment phase — taking a marriage that is in basic working order and refining it to be increasingly, mutually satisfying. Often it is a misunderstanding between restoration and enrichment that derails a couples sincere efforts at marital reconciliation after the discovery of sexual sin.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

True Betrayal – Step Eight

True Betrayal: Step 8 from Equip on Vimeo.

False Love- Step Eight

False Love: Step 8 from Equip on Vimeo.

Tweets of the Week 7.22.14

There is great value in saying something in a memorable, concise manner. Twitter has caused us to make this a near spiritual discipline. For my own growth (as a generally verbose individual… that’s a long way of saying “wordy”) and for the benefit of others, I highlight tweets each week that deliver a big message in a few words.

And one because it’s funny (and true)…

Help for Couples Recovering from Adultery or Pornography: Video Tandem 7 of 9

When sexual sin impacts a marriage there is often a great deal of confusion exacerbated by shame. A couple is not sure what to do and is embarrassed to ask for help. The result is often either passivity (pretending everything is okay or that things will get better without help) or reactivity (taking a bold action with little sense of purpose or intent to follow through). The False Love and True Betrayal series are meant to provide couples with guidance for these difficult times.

These two, complementing seminars are each comprised of 9 steps and are meant to supplement a mentoring or counseling relationship. The presentation material is longer for the earlier steps than it is for the latter steps for two reasons. First, the early steps are the time of greatest confusion and, therefore, require more guidance. Second, once a solid foundation is laid for restoration the latter steps become more self-evident.

These materials are meant to guide a couple through the marital restoration phase — taking a marriage that is broken or in crisis and getting back to basic working order.

The Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminar series is meant to guide a couple through the marital enrichment phase — taking a marriage that is in basic working order and refining it to be increasingly, mutually satisfying. Often it is a misunderstanding between restoration and enrichment that derails a couples sincere efforts at marital reconciliation after the discovery of sexual sin.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

True Betrayal – Step Seven

True Betrayal: Step 7 from Equip on Vimeo.

False Love – Step Seven

False Love: Step 7 from Equip on Vimeo.

For the “Implementation Evaluation Tool” click here: Sexual Sin Plan Eval Form

Help for Couples Recovering from Adultery or Pornography: Video Tandem 6 of 9

When sexual sin impacts a marriage there is often a great deal of confusion exacerbated by shame. A couple is not sure what to do and is embarrassed to ask for help. The result is often either passivity (pretending everything is okay or that things will get better without help) or reactivity (taking a bold action with little sense of purpose or intent to follow through). The False Love and True Betrayal series are meant to provide couples with guidance for these difficult times.

These two, complementing seminars are each comprised of 9 steps and are meant to supplement a mentoring or counseling relationship. The presentation material is longer for the earlier steps than it is for the latter steps for two reasons. First, the early steps are the time of greatest confusion and, therefore, require more guidance. Second, once a solid foundation is laid for restoration the latter steps become more self-evident.

These materials are meant to guide a couple through the marital restoration phase — taking a marriage that is broken or in crisis and getting back to basic working order.

The Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminar series is meant to guide a couple through the marital enrichment phase — taking a marriage that is in basic working order and refining it to be increasingly, mutually satisfying. Often it is a misunderstanding between restoration and enrichment that derails a couples sincere efforts at marital reconciliation after the discovery of sexual sin.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

True Betrayal – Step Six

True Betrayal: Step 6 from Equip on Vimeo.

False Love – Step Six

False Love: Step 6 from Equip on Vimeo.

Help for Couples Recovering from Adultery or Pornography: Video Tandem 5 of 9

When sexual sin impacts a marriage there is often a great deal of confusion exacerbated by shame. A couple is not sure what to do and is embarrassed to ask for help. The result is often either passivity (pretending everything is okay or that things will get better without help) or reactivity (taking a bold action with little sense of purpose or intent to follow through). The False Love and True Betrayal series are meant to provide couples with guidance for these difficult times.

These two, complementing seminars are each comprised of 9 steps and are meant to supplement a mentoring or counseling relationship. The presentation material is longer for the earlier steps than it is for the latter steps for two reasons. First, the early steps are the time of greatest confusion and, therefore, require more guidance. Second, once a solid foundation is laid for restoration the latter steps become more self-evident.

These materials are meant to guide a couple through the marital restoration phase — taking a marriage that is broken or in crisis and getting back to basic working order.

The Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminar series is meant to guide a couple through the marital enrichment phase — taking a marriage that is in basic working order and refining it to be increasingly, mutually satisfying. Often it is a misunderstanding between restoration and enrichment that derails a couples sincere efforts at marital reconciliation after the discovery of sexual sin.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. Summit members can pick up a copy of the notebook in the church office. For those outside the Summit family, you can request a copy from Amy LaBarr (alabarr@summitrdu.com), office administrator over counseling.

True Betrayal – Step Five

True Betrayal: Step 5 from Equip on Vimeo.

False Love – Step Five

False Love: Step 5 from Equip on Vimeo.

For the “Sexual Sin Confession Guide” click here: Confession Guide for Sexual Sin

 

jordan 2013 retro NFL Seattle Seahawks Jersey NFL Houston Texans Jersey Air Jordan retro 5 Air Jordan 11 Bred Air Jordan retro 11 Air Jordan 5 Retro Air Jordan 11 Retro Air Jordan Retro Air Jordan 2013 Retro