Prescription Drugs

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.

Continuum of Care

Many people still think of rescue missions as places where homeless people find housing, food and spiritual instruction. Yet, those of us who are involved in this field know that unless their deeper spiritual, emotional, physical, and social needs are addressed, homeless people will never attain stability in their lives. Many suffer from mental illness, addiction to alcohol and/or drugs, and various medical problems. Some cannot read, lack high school diplomas, and do not possess basic skills needed to find and keep a job. These and other complex problems keep people on the streets.

"Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic?"

What about those who say, "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic?"

Release from compulsion is a reality
Those who react negatively to this phrase usually interpret it to mean that an addicted individual is condemned to live under the constant danger of slipping into drunkenness against his own will. This, of course, would be a definite denial of God's power to change the addict and empower him to live a victorious life. The truth is that many believers do testify of an experience where the power of the Spirit of God actually lifted the compulsive desire to use alcohol and drugs from them. We must be mindful of the fact that, once this occurs, the newly reborn addict still must contend with all the lingering consequences of this life of bondage.

Romantic Relationships in Early Recovery

Why should recovering alcoholics and addicts avoid new relationships with members of the opposite sex in the first year of recovery?

By avoiding new relationships with members of the opposite sex you also:

Avoid losing the focus on personal issues
For alcoholics and addicts, real lasting change occurs only after a long and often painful process of self discovery. This involves understanding their own addictive behaviors, repressed emotions, and destructive thought patterns. However, their denial uses the feelings and behaviors of others to avoid facing their own pain and dishonesty and from assuming responsibility for their controlling and shame-producing actions. Introducing a romantic relationship, with an intense focus on the other person, too early in recovery inevitably "short-circuits" the important process of reconnecting with self and learning to become responsible for one's own feelings and behavior.

I am a Drug Addict

DRUG ADDICT

Yes me. Ashton. You should take this personally. I am writing myself here because everything I could tell myself out loud I won’t hear. Everything anyone says won’t help. All advice, admonishment, promises and pleas will fall on my deaf ears. And frankly, I don’t believe I even deserve the energy that all of that would take.

I know from this moment on that I will only call myself drug addict. I will not use my name because I have relinquished it. My name belongs to the person I no longer am. I am now...just drug addict.

I have surrendered my human identity, by which was no one's choice but my own.

Surrender

Driving down the freeway your left rear tire explodes.You gently pull to the side of the road to exit and see what happened. You begin to check to see why it popped.

STOP.

The problem with most of humanity is that reason right there. In the end, it doesn't matter what popped the tire. It doesn't matter that if you were in the other lane, you could of avoided it. It doesn't matter that you will now be late. And it doesn't matter when you say, " I knew I should of called in". Why? Because none of those things actually happened.

Work on the solution. Take it off, and fix it. There is nothing in this world that is good, nor bad that you can prevent. For there is only rules one can live by, for which when done, makes you accept when the unpreventable happens.

How many of you would go back and change an event in your life? Let's say one would change their academic career. For which the only reason I can think of would be to have a better job, and obtain more money. They are not living by the rules given. Money is absolutely nothing. It buys fake rules for which leads people to think it is something. Money creates man to believe you can prevent. Money can not make one go back and prevent your flat tire. It can only buy you a new one. It can not make you sober, only get you into places that try to help get you sober. False: money controls people places and things. Fact: people places and things allow money to control them. Other examples are such; I would of not married that person, I would have said bye to my father before he died. I would of never used. I would of answered the phone. I would of been kinder. Would, should, could. Words I will never understand.

Who Are You Serving?

Then Samuel told the whole house of Israel, "If you're returning to the Lord with all your heart, then remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, direct your hearts back to the Lord, and serve him only. Then he will deliver you from the control of the Philistines." 1 Samuel 7:3, NET Bible

I have to look seriously at who – or what – I am serving. For I can be easily deceived if I am not regularly submitting myself to the Lord my God.

There are many things I can serve in this world, none of which honour Jesus: I can serve money, other people, addictions to various substances or activities – I can even serve an addiction to people if what they think of me, or if their opinion, is more important to me than His opinion or what the Lord thinks of me.

Something else that I can become a servant to is my emotions. It is so easy for me to become overwhelmed by my feelings, and when I do, I can begin to quickly bow down to them. When anger rears its ugly head in me, it is all too natural for me to lash out at my husband or the nearest loved one to me. However, the Lord says in His Word:

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1, NIV84

When I feel discouraged and overwhelmed by a task that is before me, it is simple for me to say, "I just can't do this!" But the Word of the Lord speaks differently:

When We Run From God

When we struggle with addiction or any other challenge, we may say and do things we wouldn’t normally. We may choose to disobey God as Jonah did in the Old Testament.

When we run from God, we have preferred our own will instead of God's.

The storm will come as it did for Jonah. Our storm may not be a physical raging sea, but it could be raging emotions, a storm in our marriage, rebellious children, financial chaos, loss of a job, or foreclosure of our home.

If our children rebel, we don’t stop loving them. They can still turn to us, their parents for love and support, and we’ll give them both.

In the same way when we find ourselves discouraged or convicted about sin in our lives, we can turn to God. No matter what we’ve done, God loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

In speaking of God, 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV) says, He is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

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