Accountability

What is Addiction?

What is Addiction?

A state of addiction is reached when people habitually or obsessively surrender themselves to a substance or behavior. A person with an addiction uses a substance or behavior to escape from pain or reality. Yet by the nature of addiction, they only hurt themselves or others, and continue to deepen their addiction.

There is much debate over whether addiction is a disease or a compulsive habit. The body can certainly become highly dependent on various substances like drugs and alcohol. It seems hard believe that someone can validly claim to be addicted to shopping or the internet.

Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process Index

I wrote a series of articles appeared in five consecutive issues of RESCUE, the journal of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. The focus was to give counselors some guidance that would help them more effectively work with homeless addicts.

Here are the five articles:

Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process – Part 1

Honesty: Telling It Like It IsPremium Content

1 Corinthians 5:12-13 RSV
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men; not at all meaning the immoral of this world, or the greedy and robbers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But rather I wrote to you not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you.


Scripture talks a lot about not judging others. And then, Paul comes along and commands us to judge others. It seems to contradict itself. This isn't the kind of judgment that brings condemnation or punishment, but rather is the kind of judgment that calls into question. It is, in fact, the judgment that is done in love and demands that another believer turn away from their sin.

Matthew Henry says:

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Do I Need a Sponsor if I am in a Residential Program?Premium Content

Do people in residential recovery programs need "sponsors" in the support groups in which they participate?

Most support groups encourage recovering people to find a sponsor. "Mentorship” is a solid Biblical concept. The relationship between Paul, the seasoned veteran apostle, and Timothy, the young, gifted, upstart preacher is an excellent example.

Still, it is best to delay the process of finding a sponsor until the residential program participant is nearing graduation. While still in the program, the staff serves essentially as the "sponsor". Having an outside sponsor too early in the program can actually be counterproductive, especially if the sponsor gives guidance that is at odds with what the program's staff. It can also place the staff in a difficult situation in regard to confidentiality.

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The Need for RepentancePremium Content

...repentance is the ultimate tipping point. It is the mechanism that puts genuine change into action in our lives and in our culture. It is what enables us to move beyond the past-and all of the mistakes of the past-and into the future with bright hopes and new dreams. Repentance is the fulcrum upon which transformation turns.

One of the central messages of the Scriptures is a call to repentance. It is not to predict the future. It is not to offer new moral mandates. It is simply to declare the "words, statutes, and commandments of the Lord" that the people might "be overtaken and repent" (Zechariah 1:6). It is that they might "put on sackcloth and lament" (Joel 1:13). It is that they might "repent and turn" from all their transgressions "lest iniquity be their stumbling block" (Ezekial 18:30). It is that they might "return to the Lord" for "healing and restoration" (Hosea 6:1). This is the constant refrain of hope in the Scriptures:

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Checklist of Symptoms Leading to RelapsePremium Content

While each individual must maintain the disciplines that insure sobriety, there are ways in which others can help. Nearly every person close to the addicted person is able to recognize behavior changes that indicate a return to the old ways of thinking. Often these individuals and fellow Christians in Recovery® members have tried to warn the subject, who by now may not be willing to be told. He may consider it nagging or a violation of his privacy. There are many danger signs.

Most addicted people, if approached properly, would be willing to go over an inventory of symptoms with a spouse or other confidante. If the symptoms are caught early enough and recognized, the addicted person will usually try to change the way they think, to get "back on the beam" again.

A weekly inventory of symptoms might prevent some relapses. This added discipline is one that many addicted people seem willing to try. The following list can be used by spouses, close friends, or the addicted person.

1. Exhaustion: Allowing yourself to become too tired or in poor health.

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Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process - Part 5Premium Content

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

In our last installment in this series we discussed, briefly, the importance of meeting the needs of each individual in the recovery program. To do this most effectively, a process of documentation is essential, using paper forms or computer-based data collection. In residential recovery programs for the homeless, it is also important to adopt a team approach to working with our clients.


    A. Developing a system of documentation.
    The essential elements include:
      Regularly updated recovery plans/contracts
      Daily progress notes
      Summaries of one-on-one counseling sessions

    When all of these elements are in place, supervisors can get a good picture of what each counselor or chaplain is doing with each of the individuals with whom he or she is assigned work. Besides serving as a measure of job performance, proper documentation makes it easier for another counselor to step in and keep working with the client if that is necessary. Good documentation provides a permanent record that can be accessed if the individual leaves the program and returns at a later date. And, it provides valuable information that may be used by other ministries or agencies that work with the client in the future.

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Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process - Part 4Premium Content

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5

Most rescue recovery programs for homeless addicts have no trouble filling up their beds. Yet, it is better to have a smaller program with committed participants than to have a large one filled with people who are not serious about changing their lives. A well-organized long-term recovery program is -- "A planned, organized, and systematic delivery of services -- using both internal and external resources– with the goal of meeting the unique needs of each individual."

A 30-day "pre-program" can be instituted to serve as a trail period where prospective program members can demonstrate their commitment to recovery. Inevitably, this approach will promote stability in the long-term program by avoiding the turmoil that occurs when men and women come and stay for just a few days or weeks. A more consistent, serious group of people who can support one another on the road to recovery will surely develop.

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Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process - Part 3Premium Content

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5

Because they do not receive government and insurance monies, rescue missions that serve the homeless are not bound to strict time limits on the days of service they can render. There is no magic to 30-day, 90-day 120-day programs. These have always been set by the people who provided the dollars.

That’s why I recommend a program for homeless addicts that is based totally on accomplishing a set of treatment goals -- instead of one based on the calendar. Still, there are some special considerations for the first 30 days of sobriety to which we need to pay special attention. If we make a special effort to help a newly recovering people through them, more of them will stay around longer and go forward in recovery. A "pre-program" program has definite advantages.

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Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process - Part 2Premium Content

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

In this installment, I would explore a very basic question; "Just what can we expect to accomplish in the life of a homeless addict during their stay at a rescue mission program?" The answer comes from recognizing some basic needs that need to be addressed so those we work can develop productive, satisfying sober lives.

The answer comes from recognizing some basic needs that need to be addressed so those we work can develop productive, satisfying sober lives. The goal of a written recovery plan is to set down these goals, in order of priority, and then develop a strategy for working through them while in the program. This plan, then, becomes the basic road map for the counseling process with the individual. Weekly one-on-one sessions should always begin with revisiting the written plan and discovering what progress has been made toward accomplishing its jointly agreed upon goals

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