Professionals

Are Recovery Groups Needed in Churches?Premium Content

Not long ago I heard someone say: "I don't see any need for recovery groups in our congregation because we already have a very vital small group program." This comment started me thinking about the differences between traditional small groups in the local church and recovery groups.

I have been a participant in small groups and small group ministries for a long time. I have led groups, I have been trained as a group leader, I have written curricula for small groups, I have organized small group ministries and trained small group leaders. These experiences have been very helpful to me and I count them as some of the most valuable of my entire Christian experience. None of them prepared me, however, for the kind of group experiences found in what we now call 'recovery groups'. I remember, for example, the first time I attended a 12 step group. I knew, from the moment the very first person began to speak, that I was participating in a group dynamic which was dramatically different from any other I had experienced.

In order to understand the differences between traditional small groups and recovery

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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

Challenges for the Recovered Who Become Recovery StaffPremium Content

Note: Even though this was written for rescue missions, it is of value to anyone working in the recovery field.

Rescue missions 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":

Inability to detach.

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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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Symptoms of Alcohol DependencePremium Content

Alcohol dependence, sometimes referred to as alcoholism , is the most severe type of alcohol problem and is characterized by three of seven symptoms experienced during a one year time period. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, the symptoms of alcohol dependence include:

Symptoms of Alcohol Dependence

    Neglect of other Activities: Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use

    Excessive Use: Alcohol is consumed in larger amounts over a longer period than intended

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Involving Mission Recovery Participants in ChurchPremium Content

Note: Even though this was written for rescue missions, it is of value to anyone working in the recovery field.

Over twenty years ago, Rev. Maurice Vanderberg, Executive Director of City Union Mission in Kansas City, hung the purpose of their new Christian Life Program on their chapel wall. It is a statement that should describe the intent of all rescue mission recovery programs:

    "Our goal is to see every man becomes a mature, contributing member of a Christian community."

People become homeless because they are disconnected from meaningful relationships with others. They don't know how to access social support systems. And, for most, their trust level is at about zero. As they complete our residential recovery programs, we must assist them to become "plugged-in" to places where they will experience the support, nurture, and encouragement they need to grow in faith and in sobriety.

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When is a Client Truly Ready to Move On?Premium Content

I am convinced that our goal in any recovery program is to "work ourselves out of a job." Or to say it another way, we ought always to be helping program people to become stable and growing believers who can experience God's power and guidance for themselves. This is the exact opposite "missionizing people" -- the rescue mission version of institutionalization. I am referring to the problem of teaching people how to live in the confines of the mission, but not equipping them for life outside. This is usually the case when program people seem to doing fine but end up crashing and burning a day after they leave the program.

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Hallmarks of a Healthy Support GroupPremium Content

Simply stated, a support group is a regular meeting of individuals who have joined together to offer one another support and encouragement in order to overcome a shared problem. In informal, small group settings, participants, in turn, share their own experiences, feelings and struggles

Ideally, a good support group is, first, a place where recovering addicts will find true acceptance and a sense of what unconditional love is all about. It is a safe, non-judgmental setting where they can express struggles, thoughts, ideas, and feelings without fear of rejection. Hearing the stories of others with similar difficulties and how they overcame them, gives the struggling addict great encouragement to go on in a life of sobriety.

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Support Groups in the ChurchPremium Content

How do "support groups" help church members who are struggling with addiction and other life issues?

    A. "Support groups" are not a new idea for the Church -- John Wesley's "Rules for Small Groups," written in 1816, is an outline that embodies "the Method" from which the name "Methodist" came. This method resulted in one of the greatest revivals the world has ever known. Believers gathered together in small groups, sharing honestly, becoming accountable to one another, asking probing questions, praying for one another with a deep knowledge of their mutual needs and struggles. Any believer can benefit from this type of gathering. It can be a tremendously healing and encouraging experience for those in recovery.

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