Accountability

Organizing the Addiction Counseling Process - Part 1Premium Content

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

In the past thirty years of my work, I have had the opportunity to visit many facilities that help the homeless. When I see a man in a recovery program I like to ask, "How is he doing?" I usually just get a pat answer like, "Well, he’s been with us for six months." The problem with this answer, of course is that a sober, healthy lifestyle is not automatically picked up just by hanging around the mission for a certain length of time.

The only way to really know is by keeping accurate written records that show how we are meeting the individual needs of the people in our programs. A formal needs assessment process is needed. The information that is gathered provides the foundation for a written recovery plan (or discipleship plan). The purpose of such a plan is to help program people think through their options, to identify their own needs, and to determine which specific actions they must take to get their needs met. To ensure maximum "buy in," the plan should be developed with lots of input from counselees themselves.

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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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Do You Want to Be Righteous or Right?Premium Content

Do we want to be righteous... or do we want to be right? It seems, these days, that many people have difficulties taking constructive criticism. The fact is, our egos are so sensitive (so self-centered) that we want everyone to approve of us all the time, rather than accepting the kind of sacrificial love that comes from a friend who wants us to be right with God. And, oh my goodness, what turmoil wells up inside us when we are rebuked! We take it as a personal offense, rather than quietly wondering if perhaps it's really true and we should do something about it.

    A rebuke strikes deeper into a discerning person than a hundred blows into a fool.Proverbs 17:10 NRSV

Friends don't let friends sin. That's the simple fact about Christianity. If we are true to our faith, we understand that everything here is temporal and our focus should be on the eternal. And the eternal is concerned with pleasing God.

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Twelve Steps to FreedomPremium Content

The Twelve Steps originated with Alcoholics Anonymous in the mid 1930's. Besides being used to help alcoholics and drug addicts, the Twelve Steps have been used in support groups for family members, over-eaters, compulsive gamblers, and even for those desiring to escape from sexual addiction. These Steps formed the basis of treatment and counseling activities at New Creation Center where I served as Executive Director for ten years in the 1980's.

In the past few years, a movement recognizing the power of the Twelve Steps has sprung up among evangelical Christians concerned with those struggling with various addictions. Some believers worry that they bring secular concepts to the Christian counseling field.

From where do these Twelve Steps derive their power? The answer is very simple; from the Bible! Although following the Steps does not always bring an alcoholic (or other sufferer) into a saving relationship with Christ, they do work in overcoming addictions. This is shown by the millions of people who have found sobriety since AA's beginning. In some ways, it is very much like the businessman who succeeds financially when he makes spiritual principles the basis of his business practices.

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Acceptance of Habitual, Unrepentant SinnersPremium Content

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 RSV
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Paul has been admonishing the Corinthian church for allowing (even welcoming) within their midst a man who is knowingly sinning . . . and continues to sin. This is a huge deal in our churches today because we embrace, even in our leadership, those who not only have sinned in the past, but who continue to embrace their sin in one way or another. We refuse to judge them based on the scripture in Matthew 7: Judge not, that you be not judged (v. 1, RSV). But I think the reason we refuse to judge is revealing. I think we refuse to judge, not out of some sense of obedience to God’s word, but because we don’t want anyone messing around in our lives. The old saying goes, "Birds of a feather flock together." We embrace sinners because we are sinners ourselves, but more than that: We don’t have to give up our own sin. By embracing the sin of others, we feel protected, justified.

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Rights and Wrongs: The Moral Absolutes of The Christian Premium Content

We have what is well known as The Seven Deadly Sins
Pride -opposite of humility
Covetousness – opposite of liberality
Lust – opposite of chastity
Anger – opposite of meekness
Gluttony - oppositie temperance
Envy – opposite of brotherly love
Sloth – opposite of diligence

Pride we have discussed as being snobby, above others such as the so-called prayer the Pharisee prayed beside the sinner/tax collector.

Covetousness has been discussed within the 10 Commandments. Be happy with what you have and be happy for what others have. There is no room for jealousy in God's home.

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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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What is Your Motivation when You are "Tolerant?"

1 Corinthians 5:1-5 RSV
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

If the apostle Paul, instead of writing this in one of the sacred epistles, had wrote this on an Internet message board or in a blog, I can hear the responses: “Judged? How can you judge him?” “The Bible tells us specifically not to judge one another.” “We need to love this man, not judge him.”

And yet, not only the sinful man, but the entire congregation . . . Paul judged! And pronounced sentence. He condemned what was happening among them.

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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