Interview with a Recovering Emotional Vampire

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He sits before me, flowing, shoulder-length hair with a strong athletic build. Wearing a

tank top, shorts and flip flops, you know he has to be a surfer. M. has become a friend, a

counselee and a disciple. We have had deep discussions about life, his relationships and

especially his recovery. Today, he is here to talk about a very personal matter and seek

advice about how to work with a “delicate situation” as he calls it.

After we talked through his options and I offer a few words of Christ-centered advice,

I stopped our talked and asked him this question. “M., I’m going to be addressing over

one-hundred substance abuse counselors on Friday. What would you like to make sure

that they know from your heart to theirs?”

“Dr. Paul, they have to know that unless they have paced all night, frantacilly craving one

more hit of a drug, unless they have been to the point that they would do anything, I mean

really anything, just to get high one more time, unless they have been there, don’t tell me

you understand what’s going on with me. You don’t understand.”

This understanding is key to working with recovering addicts. For counselors, family and

friends, it may be beyond reach. If we have not walked a few miles in their shoes, we do

not have the right to pass sentence on their motives. The best vwe can do is to listen to

the heart of the matter and follow a few simple guidelines. Obviously, the addict’s actions

must be policed and consequences must become reality. That still does not mean that we


Understanding Emotional Vampires

• There is a part of them that is good and right and pure. In their worst and

darkest moments, people who do terrible things to get drugs and alcohol, still

have a deep sense of longing to be something wholesome and blessed. The

Apostle Paul shares the struggles between the flesh and the spirit in Romans 8 and

tells us that within him the struggle was between what he knew to be right and

what he desired in his flesh. The struggle is so much more obvious and prevalente

in the addict.

• They have very little understanding about boundaries. One young lady who

stole from her grandmother said, “I figured even if that one hundred dollar bill

is yours, you’d probably want me to have it. Your credit card and jewelry too.”

A teen we interviewed had stolen his grandfather’s pistol and a few coins. “It

was just some old junk he had hidden in a drawer.” They were actually priceless

heirlooms passed down from generations, sold for $50 and a few rocks of crack

cocaine never to be recovered.

• We must become educators. Friends and family must step aside from their

emotional attachments and become educated and educators. We have to become

resource agentes who point the addict in the right direction. WE are not the

destiny of that direction. The emotional entrapment of the addict beginds with

manipulation. Their goal is to lie, steal and cheat for one more high. Therefore,

we must detach from the emotions, point them in the right direction and then,


When the Father in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) is manipulated by his son to

give him his inheritance, he simply gives him his portion and lets him go. What brings

the wandering son or daughter back to the fold? What drives them to a state of recovery?

When no one gave him anything, he came to his senses. Luke 15:16

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