Addiction, Info & Help

Moving from Client to Staff Member - Avoiding Codependency IssuesPremium Content

Recovery programs hire many program graduates and others who have overcome addictions or have grown up in troubled families. They can be excellent examples for mission clients and usually have special compassion and understanding for those who are still hurting. On the other hand, some are hindered in their efforts to minister to others because of their own codependency.

Here are a few common symptoms experienced by these "wounded warriors":

A. Inability to detach.

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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

Happy Candy Month! - Being at Peace with SweetsPremium Content

I recently found out June is candy month. Huh? I know. It started me thinking. Typically, the "candy holidays" are geared more toward autumn and winter: Christmas, Valentine's Day and, of course, Halloween. So, no one really thinks candy when they think the summer season, right?

I remember my college days when, of the many wacky disordered eating patterns and crash diets, I went on a "candy diet." Nothing but candy, day in, day out, for a period of time. I'm surprised every tooth in my head did not rot and fall out. Grace of God.

And then I hit a point in my life/recovery in which sugar was taboo. Keep that demonic white stuff away from me! To say I was paranoid was an understatement! I felt it would "do me in" if I had the tiniest trace of it.

Years later, I'm more at peace with the candy situation. It's not been an easy road, but scripture has helped me tremendously. It's the cliché moderation stuff. You know…

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A Prayer for Addicts

Dear Lord,
bless those who seek
solace in substances;
helplessly hurting their bodies,
trying to feed their souls.

Father, let them see
You are the food they crave.
Envelop them in the warm blanket
of Your eternal love.

God, please keep them safe
from the perils of their actions.
Protect those around them as well.

Give them the strength, O Lord,
to see that it is You they've been searching for.
For there is no void You cannot fill.
And You are always with them.

With You there is no fear, no pain, no judgment -
And all their sins will be forgiven.

They need only look
to Your hopeful light within them all,
Instead of the demons that beckon.

We pray they know

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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Funhouse Mirrors: Distorted Body ImagesPremium Content

When I was a little girl, I once went into one of those carnival funhouses with the mirrors. It was the one and only time I did so. I remember I didn't get very far. I took one look at my distorted series of reflected images and high-tailed it out of there so fast, you could probably see my streak marks hang in the air.

Festive.

Cut to about fourteen years later: I was nineteen or twenty years old when I was, once again, standing in front of multiple mirror images. Only this time, there was no carnival- and certainly, no fun. It was, instead, just me, choosing to stand and scrutinize myself in front of my three-way mirror, picking myself apart, via my disordered eating and body image behaviors.

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Preventing RelapsePremium Content

Addicts relapse when it is more painful to stay sober than it is to get "high". The immediate benefits of ceasing drug and alcohol use include:
improved health, better sleep , return of appetite, and clearer thinking. However, all addicts eventually face a challenge even more difficult than stopping drinking or using drugs -- coping with life without them! Doing so involves a whole lot more than just "putting the cork in the bottle". They must they learn a completely new way of life. We often refer to this process as "recovery" -- the Bible calls it "sanctification" -- a definite ongoing program of personal growth

Major Causes of Relapse

  • Denial
    inability to accept that one is indeed addicted to alcohol and/or drugs and that it is a primary cause of life problems.
  • Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
    inability to cope with a set of very stressful, physiologically-based symptoms that occur only after use of alcohol and drugs has stopped
  • Emotional Dysfunction
    inability to cope with feelings such as grief, depression, stress, fear, etc., without mind altering substances.
  • Relational Dysfunction
    inability to develop and maintain healthy relationships with others.

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Helping Addicts Who Are Mentally IllPremium Content

How can we help the addict who is also mentally ill?

A. Understanding "Dual Diagnosis" -- Up to one-third of today's homeless adults are mentally ill. The trend toward "deinstitutionalization" of the mentally ill has meant that our city streets are now being flooded with people who at one time would have been hospitalized for their problems. As many as half of them are also addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. Many are "self-medicating" -- using addictive substances to cope with their mental problems. Social service professionals usually do not like working with these "dually diagnosed" people because they can be so demanding and time-consuming. They can be too destructive and troubled for the typical addiction recovery program. And, mental health workers shy away from them because they often do not stay sober long enough for treatments to be effective. So, they end up at the rescue mission.

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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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Making Good ReferralsPremium Content

When people look to addiction counselors for help, they come with a wide variety of needs. These include:

  • food, clothing and shelter
  • job counseling and training
  • legal assistance
  • literacy training and other educational skills
  • parenting skills training
  • family and couples counseling
  • medical care and family planning services
  • social support services
  • child care during treatment
  • psychiatric assessment and mental health services
  • help to move into permanent housing

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