Step 1

Addiction the SinPremium Content

Addiction is not just a moral defect of character we wish to be rid of. In the realm of religion, it is a mortal sin.

Do you feel that something is missing deep down in your soul? Do you feel an emptiness that you cannot explain - sometimes loneliness - even among many? Most people with substance abuse problems do.

In moments when we are most thoughtful about the meaning of life, there is a craving for something more. At its core, this is a longing to know or experience something or someone bigger than ourselves - "God", a spiritual being.

Often, people try to fill this emptiness with things that aren't always good for us - like alcohol, drugs, and sins of the flesh. However, none of these can fill this emptiness, or take away the inner loneliness.

What separates you from God? What causes that emptiness in your life? And finally, what causes you to use drugs? Could it be sin? The answer is most likely a "definite yes". In my opinion, drugging and excessive drinking are sins. You may not believe it on one side of the coin; on the other side, you may believe it, but you have trouble accepting it. It makes no difference. When you get high you break God's law, and that is where your life falters.

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Signs of Needing RecoveryPremium Content

Signs of needing Recovery

  • Behavior that sabotages successful management of our lives
  • Feeling the necessity to shut down feelings and to keep everything inside. (As children we learned that expressing our own wants and needs resulted in rejection. This in turn fueled intense feelings of inadequacy. No matter how hard we tried things only got worse). When we express our needs we risk being rejected.
  • low self esteem
  • insecurity, anxiety
  • Trying to save face rather than to acknowledge reality and accept the consequences of our actions. Hiding from our true feelings by staying "busy." By staying busy we allow ourselves to ignore our true feelings and thus deny them.
  • Tendency to isolate
  • Need to be approved of by others. Being loyal to others even when loyalty is not deserved or warranted.
  • Easily intimidated by others.
  • confusing pity with love
  • giving in to others rather than taking care of our own wants and needs.

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Beginning Recovery: What are You Waiting For?Premium Content

BEGIN

It’s that simple. After all the planning and anticipation, you have to turn the crank the first time.

Without knowing what will happen or where it all will lead, you begin.

I used to think these beginnings should be a big deal, with some sort of grand official sendoff. Simply starting seemed anti-climatic.

Now, though, I sort of like it. I like the notion that you start by starting. It doesn’t require a ceremony or a permit or a “ready-set-go.”

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Falling for the "Bad Guy"Premium Content

"Everyone falls for the bad guy."

Yep, that about sums it up. A lot of you ladies know exactly what I'm talking about.

We see him, the rebel, complete with dreamy bedroom eyes, tousled hair and a certain taboo nonconformity, brooding in a dark corner somewhere; we're smitten.

There's something alluring, dangerous and promising about the bad guy, isn't there? Its intoxicating argument of an exciting, romantic and perfect life, however that's defined, leads us into taking the bad guy up on his offer. We make some choices- and, let's face it, they're not exactly great choices for us, are they?

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What is Powerlessness?Premium Content

I have been reminded recently that the Christian faith is as offensive and outrageous as it has always been. It is still, as the Apostle Paul put it, a kind of foolishness. That the weakness of the infant Jesus could contain the power at the heart of all of creation is sheer foolishness. That the weakness of the cross could possibly constitute the decisive victory over the forces which oppose God's rule seems preposterous. Indeed, it is rare today to find anyone, either within the Christian community or elsewhere, who speaks in praise of weakness. Our understanding of power has become decidedly unparadoxical. We want our power untainted with anything as undesirable as weakness. We prefer peace through strength and salvation through self-reliance.

A growing critique of the recovery movement makes precisely this point. Stan Katz and Aimee Liu put it this way in their book The Codependency Conspiracy: "relationships that are based on mutual weakness cannot serve as sources of strength or enrichment". This is a remarkable conviction - and one that is quite contrary to my personal experience. But it is a very popular conviction. Recovery through strength is much more appealing than recovery which begins with the appalling weakness of 'admitting powerlessness'.

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Isn't Admitting Powerlessness a Defeatist Attitude?Premium Content

At first glance, declaring powerlessness over alcohol may sound like esigning to a lifetime of constantly battling with the urge to drink. Fortunately, the truth is just the opposite. Both clinically and spiritually, this is actually the starting point on the road to victory for the struggling addict.

What "powerlessness" is not
There are misapplications of this concept, so we must recognize that power- lessness has nothing to do with:

  • Which drug or type of alcohol an indidual uses ,
  • How often or how much he or she drinks or uses drugs
  • The will power to stay away from drugs and alcohol
  • Staying away from people, places, or things that involve drinking or using

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Self Deceit is Rarely ObviousPremium Content

Unlike the deceit of others, self-deceit is almost never deliberate and intentional.

The act of deceiving ourselves is rarely that obvious. Without realizing it, we mask our behaviors in ways that are more acceptable, rewarding, and socially beneficial. In fact, we try very hard to look good in front of others and the mirror. Sometimes we try so hard to look perfect that we nearly convince ourselves that it’s true. Then, when someone tells us, or when we see the light on our own, we remember who and what we really are – human.

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A Really Close ShavePremium Content

A shower and a shave doesn't always make you feel better. Sometimes you have to take a longer look in the mirror.

My thoughts were crowded with recent and intersecting histories of bad decisions, poor choices, and failures. I felt like hell, so I got out of bed, walked into the bathroom, and splashed water on my face to wash away the problems I was facing. Not wanting to face myself after last night’s performance, I forced myself to glance upward into the mirror. I stared for a moment before falling into a dreamlike trance. Was I still high, or was my conscious trying to talk to me face to face?

My face, unclean and unshaven, deep dark circles around my eyes, a network of lines and crevices, reminded me of Rocky Balboa’s face after having gone fifteen rounds with Apollo Creed.

My hair, greased with sweaty palms from the habit of running my fingers through my hair when faced with nervous and jittery decisions, needed to be washed.

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God Expects You To Be Better By Now (Resistance to Recovery)Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 2

(The third in a three part series on resistance to recovery.)

In the first of this series of articles I emphasized that the most difficult form of resistance to recovery is our own resistance. Recovery is not easy. It is a difficult process. Telling the truth, acknowledging our need, accepting help, making amends - these are some of the difficult tasks of recovery. It is understandable that we resist such a difficult process. In addition, recovery involves change. We have spent many years practicing our dysfunctional ways of living. The path of least resistance for us is to keep doing the same old things. Change is difficult and it is understandable that we resist it. In the second in this series of articles, I emphasized that in addition to our own internal resistance to recovery, recovery also often takes place in a hostile environment. For a variety of reasons, not everyone in our lives will welcome the changes which recovery brings.


Many of us, unfortunately, have experienced some distinctively Christian forms of resistance to recovery and it is this kind of resistance which I would like begin to discuss in this article.

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Criticisms of Recovery - Part 2Premium Content

See: Part 1 | See: Part 3

In a previous article I discussed the most insensitive, intransigent and personally painful kind of resistance to recovery - our own resistance. We tend to be our own worst critics. We resist the changes most tenaciously. In most cases we fight it, reject it, hate it - probably more than anyone else.

It is often true, however, that the recovery journey takes us through territory that is either ambivalent towards or downright hostile to recovery. Recovering codependents, for example, may find that some people prefer the 'good old days' when they were more compliant and self-sacrificing. Unpleasant emotions, once medicated with addictive substances or processes, may be experienced as threats to relationships that have adapted over the years to the insanity of addiction. Some people in recovery experience hostility when they start telling the truth in social systems which have been committed to silence for generations. Other people experience shame and rejection when people are skeptical about or merely uncomfortable with the changes that recovery brings.

Recovery is about change and most of us will encounter resistance when change produces new and unfamiliar behaviors. It is not reasonable to expect that all of the changes which take place during recovery will be received with rejoicing as if they were 'answers to prayer'.

Resistance and Rejection
Most of the resistance we encounter in recovery will be personal and painful. Even when resistance comes in the form of intellectualized 'arguments' against recovery, it may feel like personal assault rather than dispassionate analysis. For example, suppose someone says: "You can't change the past, so you should focus on the positive." This may make some intellectual sense to you. It may 'ring true.' It might, indeed, be good advice at this particular stage of your recovery. But for many people it may also feel like a profound dismissal of their struggle towards sanity. The key to sorting out confusing stuff like this is not the truth or falsehood of "you should focus on the positive". What is critically important is the tone of voice in which you hear "you should focus on the positive". Is the tone practical and understanding? Or is it shaming and dismissing? Do I feel rejected as a person when I hear this?

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