Professionals

Emotions in Recovery: AngerPremium Content

Beyond the emotionally tumultuous days of the first few weeks of sobriety, people in addiction recovery then move into a second phase of early recovery. As their mind and body begin to function on a more normal basis, a new crop of emotions begin to surface. Once of the first, and most important of these is anger.

A. Emotions are not moral

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Aftercare for Recovery ProgramsPremium Content

For Christian programs that work to help addicts, the primary goal is to help them to become integrated into two vital communities -- the Church and the recovery community. If our goal is truly to work ourselves out of a job, then we must make sure we are spending enough time and energy preparing our clients for life after our programs. If we don’t, we have done them a great disservice. No matter how success we are with newly sober clients, they will still leave or programs as struggling baby Christians. We must be sure that these new believers knows where to find help when they experiences struggles, even 2, 5, 10 years and more in the future, no matter where they live.

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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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Tough Love in Addiction Recovery ProgramsPremium Content

How do we properly cope with the emotional distress that some staff members experience when called upon to dismiss residents for violating recovery program rules?

A. The Principle of "Tough Love" -- One of the keys to overcoming staff difficulties in this area is educating them in the important principles of "tough love." While it can be extremely difficult to dismiss certain people from a program, we really are doing what is best for them. For those in denial about their problems, consequences can be their salvation! People continue to abuse alcohol and drugs (and persist in dysfunctional behaviors) as long as they feel the benefits outweigh the costs.

Additionally, being dismissed can often serve as an important learning experience. Such people may return to the program with a much better attitude, having had a chance to get a hard look at the pain and destruction in their old environments. Someone once said, "It's hard to go back to digging around in the garbage after you've been feasting at the King's table!"

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Avoiding Burnout in Addiction Recovery WorkPremium Content

Working in with needy people can be overwhelming at times. Staff members of outreach ministries are surrounded daily by those in need and they often struggle with limited time and resources to help them. So, learning the art of "self-care" is essential. The key to this is developing healthy attitudes toward our ministries and ourselves. Here are a few tips that can help you to avoid "burn-out" and find more joy and fulfillment in the work of the Lord:

    A. Learn to Detach – Whenever we're focusing our energies on people and problems, we have little, if any time for care and nurturing of self, and meeting our own legitimate needs. We must remember that it is God who does the real work in the lives of hurting people. This helps to take a little of the load of responsibility off our own shoulders.

    B. Learn to Practice "Professional Distance" – This does not mean being callous or uncaring toward those whom we help. It does mean keeping good boundaries between ourselves and our clients. It means not becoming so wrapped up in their lives that we carry their struggles home with us at night. Over-involvement can cloud our decision-making process to the point where we end up playing "favorites." This will jeopardize our relationships with our other clients. We cannot assume responsibility for the decisions our clients make.

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Strict Policy of No Use in Recovery ProgramsPremium Content

I've spent many years working with counselors and rescue mission staff members to assist them to more effectively help homeless addicts and alcoholics. Whenever I speak on this topic, I am usually challenged for saying clients should be immediately dismissed from a program when they are discovered to have used alcohol or drugs. So, I thought it would be useful to restate my convictions - and my rationale for this encouraging this policy.

I am convinced that we must immediately dismiss anyone who uses alcohol or drugs while in a recovery program. The dismissal must be for at least one month, with the possibility for an evaluation for re-admission after that time period. If they do re-enter the program, they should start over - from day one - and not be allowed to regain whatever status they held before using.

Does this mean we should just throw them out on the street? Not necessarily; it might mean moving out of the program part of the building and back into the transient section. It could also mean a referral to another facility. Or, it could mean leaving the building and finding their own way to the next place, especially in the case of those who have violated the policy repeatedly.

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Motivating Addiction Recovery Program Participants (Part 3)Premium Content

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.

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Motivating Addiction Recovery Program Participants (Part 2)Premium Content

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?

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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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Creating Hope in Our ClientsPremium Content

I have often said that the residential recovery program’s first goal is to create hope in our clients. What are some ways we can accomplish this?

Before people can begin the process of change they must fully understand two basic truths;

1) that change is needed in a certain area of their lives and

2) that change is possible.

In previous articles, I have discussed strategies of breaking through the addict’s denial system, which is the starting point for his or her accepting the need for change. But if we only convince people that their lives are a mess we may leave them in a place of despair. We must create an environment full of hope where they can catch a vision for how their lives could be in Christ, along with giving the tools to build a life of faith and recovery.

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