How to Talk to an Addict
I know that if Absalom were alive and all of us were dead today, then you would be pleased. 2 Samuel 19:6
The most common question I get is, How do I talk to the addict in my life? How do I make him get help? As I came across today’s passage, I realized that Joab’s confrontation of King David was a fantastic example of how to address destructive behavior.
In the story, Absalom, David’s rebellious son, led an uprising against him. David’s military commander, Joab, defeated the rebellion, killed Absalom and saved David’s throne.
Instead of expressing gratitude and celebrating the victory though, David lamented the death of his mutinous son, turning victory into mourning for his people. It was in this state of self-pity that Joab confronted David and informed him that if he persisted, his people would abandon him. Israel was in chaos and needed its king. Go be the king you are supposed to be, or you will have no kingdom left!
What lessons can be learned from Joab? First, Joab could speak to David like this, as he had already invested so much in David’s life. David may not have listened to anyone else. Second, Joab could not make the decision for David, but he could give him a push in the right direction. Joab knew David must choose to do the right thing himself.
Third, Joab laid out clear boundaries. If you continue on the road of destruction, you will go alone. You will not take the rest of us down with you. Often, those closest to the addict become victims themselves because they do not know how to create appropriate boundaries.
Fourth, Joab spoke the truth in love. We so often, err in one direction or the other. Joab however, loved David and so, told him the painful truth that he desperately needed to hear. We must do the same. I love you, but you are killing yourself. You need help.
Finally, we must be willing to do what it takes to provide help if our loved one wants it and we must be willing to walk away if he or she does not. We do what we must do to act rightly ourselves and then we leave the results up to God.
If you have any other suggestions or experience in this area, I would love to hear it. If you are willing, leave your story in the comments for others to read.