Stalled Recovery

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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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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The Hamster Wheel: Are You Doing the Same Thing Over and Over?Premium Content

The famous phrase, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result" can probably best be depicted by the hamster on the hamster wheel.

Ever had a hamster as a pet? When I was eleven, I had one by the name of Mitsy. The concept of having a hamster didn't quite measure up to the actual reality. For one, I could never pick her up and cuddle her. One attempt at doing so, Mitsy whipped her head around and sunk those two long front teeth into my finger. Here's a helpful factoid: hamster bites HUR-R-R-R-T!!!

And then there was that hamster smell, emanating from her cage. I don't think I need to elaborate.

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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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Is it OK to Make Up a God of Your Own in Recovery?Premium Content

Earliest A.A. Leaders Specifically Described Their Trust in God

Making Up Some "god of your own?"

Some today have made up their own gods and not-gods. They've called them chairs, somethings, somebodies, door knobs, light bulbs, the Great Pumpkin, the Big Dipper, and whatever they are told they can do praying to a tree or a table. In later A.A., treatment people, therapists, some AAs, and even clergy began thinking they were some new self-made, extra-terrestrial "higher power."

Not so with four important Early AAs.

A.A. Pioneers Heard: "God either is, or He isn't;" and they chose God!

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Avoid Burn-out by Practicing Good Self-carePremium Content

Urban mission work and recovery outreach are certainly unique. The rewards can be tremendous, as well as the discouragements. So, here are a few of my thoughts on how to avoid burn-out by practicing good self-care:

A. Keep a life for yourself -- I often struggle to find the balance between personal priorities and ministry opportunities. It's easy to get caught up in ministry and put my own needs on the "back burner." Because urban missions can be a very stressful place to work good self-care practices are essential. One of the most important of them is to cultivate a life that is separate from the mission and its staff and clients. We need to leave work stress behind and pursue our own interests and relationships. For people who live in the mission facilities, failing to develop meaningful outside relationships and activities is a sure path to "burn-out."

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Motivating Addiction Recovery Program Participants (Part 1)Premium Content

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.

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The Truth Shall Set You Free - Part 7Premium Content

When I started this study, it was in the spring of my last semester of my teaching career. A lot of things were on my mind. I was sad--very sad. Earlier in the year I was pretty depressed about retiring. As I reviewed the various options in my head, I still had to come to one conclusion: I should retire. I just am no longer the man I once was. I just didn't have a lot of the energy you need to really do a good job. I readily admitted to this; it did not take any rocket science to figure it out. I accepted it easily: it was time to retire.

Teaching was my life. Sometimes it was the best part of my day--being in the classroom. But, it was not my entire life. I led with my heart, and that is probably one of the reasons why I got tired at the end. Emotions such the energy right out of you. I loved it so much--teaching.

I remember Ernest Hemingway. Writing was his life. The trouble was, writing really was his life. That was it. Nothing else. This focus made him to be a very important writer of our time, but this focus lead to his suicide, I believe. He could not write any more. What was the point of living?

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The Truth Shall Set You Free - Part 6Premium Content

John 8:31-32 is a conditional statement. Jesus says if we continue in His word, we will be His disciples. We will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. The key words are: "if", "continue", "truth", and "free."

If we abide in, stay with, live out and proclaim His word through our attitudes and actions, we will know His truth and we will be free.

Freedom is the one thing we all seek. Adam and Eve might have sensed "freedom" when they were told they would be like God and know good and evil. Satan told them a lie (they would be like God) and a truth (they would know good and evil). Their choice brought the curse God stated in Genesis 3. That was a curse on them and on the earth. For you and I, that curse ends at death when we go to be with Jesus. For the earth, the curse continues until the New Jerusalem descends out of God from heaven as described in Revelation 21.

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The Truth Shall Set You Free - Part 5Premium Content

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. Last time I shared about this verse:

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.


I see this verse as telling us to change a negative to a positive. The ruler of this world is Satan. If we just live in that sphere, we are under his influence, and this becomes a part of us. That is the negative. The positive is the ruler of the larger Kingdom, God, and His teachings, which are in Scripture. In so doing, the mind is renewed and we are changed. The negative grid system formed by our past, and pricked at by Satan and his demonic imps is replaced by the positive truth of the application of God's word.

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