christmas treeAs we gather around the tree and smile at family and friends, we can forget that for many that smile is only a façade and this is not the “most wonderful time of the year.” With last year reporting 19.7 million Americans suffering from substance use disorder, most likely someone in your family or close circle of friends are suffering as well. An estimated 200 families a day are faced with the loss of a loved one due to a drug or alcohol overdose. Gerri Edwards, author of Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment, knows what it is like to lose a loved one to addiction and the loss of identity as she recently lost her son Ryan to an accidental overdose.

With an estimated 30.5 million Americans using illicit drugs, what can you do? Edwards encourages us to not miss the gifts that we are already equipped to give our loved ones. Here are five simple ways to ensure the holidays hold good tidings of comfort and joy for your loved one.

  1. Time- Appreciate the time you have with one another. Be present with them when you are together. This will make all the difference in the world to them. They need our love; the world is already too unkind to them.
  2. Forgive- Wake up each day and choose to forgive the past and move forward.
  3. No Expectations- Love them just the way they are. Know that they are hurting and broken just like you. We live in a broken world and are all broken in some fashion or another. Let go of how you think they should behave.
  4. Don’t Judge- They are mistreated, judged, and already know what a disappointment they have become by using, don’t add to their disappointment. Edify, encourage, and elevate the good in them.
  5. Rest- Give them a safe place to rest, even if it is a few hours. They are run down and overwhelmed with life. Everyone loves a stable environment and will thrive where there is peace not confusion.

“I will be Ryan’s voice. He was a light dimmed too soon. God has ignited a new fire and I will be a voice for those who have been silenced because of who they are and who people judge them to be,” said Edwards.

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