The system that sends you messages as a child is your family of origin. These messages become your belief system. Belief systems affect life choices because they shape how you view the world. One of the manifestations of poor life choices, coupled with a research proven physical allergy to harmful substances, can be addictions. Author and treatment expert John Bradshaw in his book Bradshaw on the Family describes the family as an “emotional system with its own culture that children learn from and absorb beliefs” and he argues that one must “view one’s problems in the context of one’s family system”.
Here’s how we help at Genesis Recovery. We teach men that their addiction is a result of life choices and their choices, in part, are directly affected by their belief systems. We teach them that they have made choices based on this belief system that they may have not chosen. And although, we hold them responsible for the choices they have made, we teach them to become more aware of how their family of origin may have affected the way they have navigated through the world. The belief systems may be both direct or implied. For example, if a child grows up in a family where the direct message is that violence or drugs and alcohol are acceptable, they will either adopt, the most likely result, or rebel against that belief. Similarly, a child whose opinion is never heard, or told that his opinion does not matter, could also result in his making choices based off the internal message that his opinion does not matter and his no is not powerful. It is through this awareness that we hope to restore the power of their choices back to our clients. Once these men learn how the messages they have received as a child could possibly be affecting their life choices, they now have sole responsibility to make better choices. At Genesis we help them learn, in a peer-driven environment, what positive life choices look like, which in turn, creates a new belief system to help them navigate through life, free of mood-altering substances.
The French novelist, Leon Bloy once wrote, “The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” Part of “becoming a saint” is focused on becoming the real you — who you were created to be, not a byproduct of a dysfunctional family with all the thoughts and actions that are derived from that system. This is what we reveal to our clients. They were created for a purpose and that purpose was not addiction. We believe that only God, in all his grace and mercy, can take the dysfunction of our families, the selfishness of our sins, and use them for His glory. He can even take a tragic event, such as entering drug addiction treatment, and use it to reveal how we have been affected by our family system. So the question is, what do you believe, why, and how is that affecting your life?
By Carl Culver