Drugs

Restoration Through Making Amends (Part 2)

See: Part 1

In his book, Staying Sober, Terence Gorksi shares a simple exercise that creates a workable “road map” for the process of making amends. On a sheet of paper, draw lines to make three columns. In the left column, list those who were hurt by my drinking/drug addiction. In the center one, list how they were hurt in very specific terms. And, in the right, list what must be done to make amends with them. A final step in the process is to determine who can and cannot be contacted and to develop a chronological list of those who will be contacted.

The second half of Step 9 offers a warning – there are certain people to whom we should not attempt to make amends. This is because doing so could actually be more harmful than doing nothing. In Step 8 the focus in on a list of all those to whom one is willing to make amends. Step 9 involves talking real action to restore relationships. This requires much more discretion. Here are things to consider from the Serenity New Testament:

Restoration Though Making Amends (Part 1)

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23, 24)

A rescue mission counselor asked me to talk with a man who had returned to their recovery program for the third time. Despite completing their program twice, he was unable to remain sober for more than a few months. Not too far into our discussion, I recognized he had not been able to develop the healthy sort of relationships essential for continued growth in recovery. Fearful of becoming too involved with others, he could not experience the joy of meaningful, fulfilling relationships. I asked him, "Have you ever done the 8 & 9 Steps?” His answer of "No” made perfect sense. Like many newly recovering people, he still carried a load of guilt and remorse from unresolved past relationships. Thus, he could not move forward with confidence to make new intimate relationships. He needed to clean up the residue of his past first.

Helping Recovering Addicts Reconnect With Themselves

Previously, we discussed the addict's need to reconnect with God. Now, we turn to another important issue, the addict's need to reconnect with himself. By this I mean gaining a new level of self-awareness that leads to positive change. This means knowing how he feels and why. And, importantly, it means recognizing his own needs. There are four essential areas of self-awareness that all who wish to succeed in living sober and healthy lives must have:

A. I am powerless over alcohol and/or drugs – This does not mean, "I am unable to avoid using alcohol or drugs." This recognition focuses on what happens when the addict uses his/her drug of choice (which may be ethyl alcohol). This is the clinical definition of powerlessness -- the admission (both intellectually and emotionally) that even in the most limited use of alcohol or drugs results in an outcome that the addict cannot predict. They need to see drinking or drugging as playing Russian Roulette with a gun. Just as every chamber does not contain a bullet, not that every using experience ends up in days of out-of-control use and behavior. But, eventually they will lose control.

Helping Recovering Addicts Reconnect With the Church

Over twenty years ago, Rev. Maurice Vanderberg, Executive Director of City Union Mission in Kansas City, hung the purpose of their new Christian Life Program on their chapel wall. It is a statement that should de­scribe the intent of all rescue mission re­covery programs:

Our goal is to see every man becomes a mature, contributing member of a Christian community.


People become homeless because they are disconnected from meaningful rela­tionships with others. They don't know how to access social support systems. And, for most, their trust level is at about zero. As they complete our resi­dential recovery programs, we must as­sist them to become "plugged-in" to places where they will experience the support, nurture, and encouragement they need to grow in faith and in sobri­ety.

Becoming active in a church home is ab­solutely essential for homeless addicts who want to establish themselves in a new, independent, sober and godly lifestyle. They must develop a personal system of ongoing support that replaces the structure provided by the mission residential program. This might also in­clude participation in support groups and finding a program sponsor. All of this can only be accomplished if we have a definite "aftercare" strategy in place.

Motivating Addiction Recovery Program Participants (Part 3)

See: Part 1 | Part 2

I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am firmly convinced that we must help people in residential programs to be come integrated into two vital communities - the Church and the recovery community. There is life after the mission program and if we don’t spend enough time and energy preparing our clients for it, we have done them a great injustice. If we are truly successful, the program graduate leaves the mission as a newly sober, struggling baby Christian. We must be sure that this new believer knows where to find help when he/she experiences struggles, even 2, 5, 10 years and more in the future, no matter where they live.

There is a lot going on at rescue missions in the areas of life skills, employment, literacy and education, etc. But, an often-neglected aspect of preparation for life after the program is helping our residents to develop and maintain healthy relationships. Getting involved with the wrong people is a major contributor to relapse. Another is the tremendous stress those clients with inadequate relationship skills experience as they try to live with others.

Motivating Addiction Recovery Program Participants (Part 2)

See: Part 1 | Part 3

When I came to Kansas City in 1990 and my focus turned from direct involvement to training people to become addition counselors and helping them to manage more effective programs. However, I’ve stayed in touch with the "hands on" dimension of recovery work by volunteering at local rescue missions and for other organizations that help addicts and their families. Conducting chapel services for program participants and interacting with them is something I always look forward to doing.

One local mission, the Kansas City Rescue Mission, where Joe Colaizzi serves as executive director, is an example of a rescue mission recovery program that is doing a lot of things right. Their recent follow-up efforts reveal that for three years running, 70% of their graduates are still sober for year or more after leaving the mission. This is a very good rate of success. So, what are some of the things they are doing to promote such success?

Motivating Addiction Recovery Program Participants (Part 1)

The more time I spend with rescue mission recovery programs, the more I’ve become convinced that the most important “gift” we can give homeless addicts is community, a place to belong. Homelessness is a state of complete disaffiliation—being cut off from all meaningful and supportive human relationships. Suc­cessful mission residential programs actually provide a supportive “family” environment where homeless addicts can examine their lives and take the difficult initial steps toward a new, sober, and productive life.

There are two other important communities that program participants must become involved with so the process of change begun at the mission continues after they leave. The first is the Church, the Body of Christ, where program graduates experi­ence fellowship with other believers and spiritual nurture.

The second is the recovering community where involvement with support groups for recovering addicts give them a place to continue personal growth through mutual sharing and encour­agement with others who have overcome addiction.

A Christian Philosophy of Addiction and Recovery

There's a long standing debate in Christian Counseling circle as to whether addiction is a sin or a disease. I have addressed this issue in a previous article. What I want to say here is simply, any rescue mission, Salvation Army ARC or other Christian ministry that works with alcoholics and drug addicts must establish an official philosophy of addiction. This is best done at the level of the board of directors. How we approach addicts from a philosophical and theological perspective will ultimately guide everything we do. Certainly, it will serve as the framework for our counseling approach. But it will also influence whom we hire, the curriculum we develop, and the expectations we have for the people in our programs.

For potential use with your program, and to serve as a framework for developing your philosophy, I offer the Philosophy of Addiction and Recovery I developed for New Creation Center, the residential treatment program I led in Atlantic Mine, Michigan for over ten years. Feel free to use as much of it as you wish.

Why Do I Have to Be Ready Again? Taking Step 6

Many people (myself included) spend very little time, if any, on Step 6: "We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." We think, "Hey! I was over ready when I first got into recovery!" or "I have been ready and eager at Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Why do I have to be ready again?"

Why does Step 6 ask us to be entirely ready?

Set Free - Replacing the Old with the New

In searching for, and living in the truth that can set us free, the first thing we need to do is replace the old with the new. Romans 12:2: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

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