Battling Drug and Alcohol Addiction: A Christian Perspective

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by Providence Crowder

A Message to the Loved One:

Losing a loved one to an unexpected tragedy is devastating.   Just as tragic is losing a loved one to a fatal illness such as AIDS or Cancer—which often ends in death after slow and laborious agony.  Yet, I can think of few things more numbing, more distressful, and more infuriating than losing a loved one to drug or alcohol abuse.

Drug addiction and alcoholism impairs and kills hundreds of thousands each year; it is costly to society and it negatively impacts the lives of families and communities all over the world.  Rarely can a person be found that is not impacted in some way by the prevalence of drug and alcohol addiction.   Why is the death caused by addiction so mind boggling and painful?  Because despite our pleas, begging, and our best intervention efforts, nothing we say or do seems to stop the destructive behavior of an addict.

We see them often times as selfish and ruthless, willing to commit crimes and risk life or limb for their next fix.  We feel violated and cheated because our words do not persuade and our love does not penetrate—it is not enough to stop the train wreck from occurring!  The drugs or alcohol are everything to them and we are nothing but a means to their destructive ends if we allow them to be.  They are responsible for causing indescribable sufferings.  They are responsible for causing family crises!  And though the physical and psychological addiction may have been a progression, they made the choice to take that first drink or get the first high. Through their destructive behaviors and choices, they have made us victims of their vice.

Drug and alcohol abuse and dependence has driven our loved ones to become unrecognizable to us.  If we let go, we lose them.  If we persist, we lose ourselves.  If death occurs, we cannot be consoled.  Death to this disease, unlike some others, seems it could have been prevented if only we had known earlier or known at all; or if we had not let go, or if we had persisted harder—if only we had prayed more earnestly.

For those of us who have lost loved ones to drug or alcohol abuse, grieving is inevitable.  Pain or indifference, bewilderment, and even anger are often unavoidable.  The wounds are deep and have penetrated our very core.  We are confronted by conflicting emotions, from contempt to self-pity.  We are left with memories—both good and bad.  We are met with more questions than answers, like:  “How could this have happened to her?”  Getting through and moving on may seem unachievable early on and is no easy feat.  The time we spend grieving and healing is precious and fragile.

There is no prescribed time or way to grieve, but there are helpful groups, counselors, and advice available to help us along the way.  And prayer never hurts.  God is able to heal and restore the brokenhearted.  Remember, help is available and we don’t have to face the struggle alone.  We should seek all the resources at our disposal—even when we are numb to the pain and don’t feel as if we need help.

While we are faced with the question, “How could this have happened to her?”  The addict, in moments of sobriety, may ask the question, “How could this have happened to me?”  Remember, drug or alcohol addiction is not planned, or sought after—though the initial use of the drugs or alcohol that leads to the addiction is invited in through vulnerabilities such as depression or self-hatred, for experimentation, to relieve stress, because of peer pressure, by over-medicating, or various other ways.

A Message to the Addict:

If you are suffering from what has been called the disease of drug addiction, it does not have to be fatal.  If you are not one of the many in denial that a problem actually exists, you may be asking yourself, “How did I get here?”  This is an important question to answer, and if you are not certain, in sobriety and with the proper help perhaps you will come see with clarity what brought you to this point.  But for now, the more critical questions for you are:  “How do I get out and how do I stay out?”  “How do I live a sober life free of drug or alcohol addiction?”

Before you can live free, you must understand what addiction has done.  Addiction has taken away your natural God-given desires and replaced them with unnatural ones.  God has given us a desire to love and be loved—to cherish family and relationships.  What drugs and alcohol have done is perverted your heart and mind to think unnaturally and unrealistically about what is important and what is not.  It has become an idol to you—it is the most important thing in your life.  It has ruined your system of values and your commitments to family and building healthy relationships with others.  You do not see clearly the destruction and pain that drugs have caused you and those who love you.  You may, even now, not fully understand, but with prayer and proper counseling, God is able to restore your mind, and heal your heart so that you are able to think and respond properly in relationships, and in coping with the everyday pressures of life.

Can I Live a Sober Life?

You may be an individual who finds it extremely difficult to visualize living a sober life.  You may even fear being sober because you fear the physical discomfort that withdrawal brings, or you believe the drugs or the alcohol brings you pleasure and contentment that you are unwilling to part with.  Sobriety may also bring with it the reality of a life filled with physical or mental pain, financial responsibility and uncertainty, the reality of unaddressed and mounting legal problems, self-hatred, and broken relationships that you are disinclined to confront.  You feel trapped!

Some of you have been through therapy and detoxification, once, twice, three times and over!  You have been to halfway houses, and through the 12 Steps to Recovery programs.  Yet, you find yourself still bound, living a miserable existence free of the excitement that chasing the drug high brought, and fearing your next setback.  The temptation to return to drugs and alcohol is ever present, as you have found that removing the drug does not weaken the desire.  If any of this rings true than I am talking to you.

The Christian Struggling with Addiction

You may even be a Christian suffering through addiction alone and may be affiliated with a church in which your leaders are not equipped to handle addiction and do not offer the appropriate help.  You may have even been shunned by church members and leaders because sinful behaviors, of which drunkenness is one, are often kept secret and are not dealt with!  Nonetheless, these should be the exception and not the rule.

Spirit filled and led Christian leaders, layman, and counselors can be a wonderful asset to you in your recovery.  They offer prayer and spiritual guidance, and compassionately direct and encourage you to seek and learn good behaviors and build healthy relationships.  They remind you of your identity and your worth, which you may have lost along the way, and they tell of God’s purpose and plan for you.  They give you God’s message of hope, love, and redemption.  They offer you the physical help you need while also leading you to confront your responsibilities, reminding you all the while that God will restore you in the proper time if you trust him and do not give up.

Because of the shame and guilt that you may feel, you may have alienated yourself from God and God’s people.  And if you have severely damaged the support you once had among family and friends, it may all well be in your mind that the your only allies are those individuals caught in the cycle of addiction with you—your drinking buddies or your drug partners.  Do not believe it.  By offering earnest prayers for guidance to God, asking personnel at a local hospital or clinic to point you in the right direction, by visiting a church or a local Catholic parish, by visiting a sober house, or simply by looking in the yellow pages, you will find that there is a world of help out there for you.  As well, there are people who used to be where you are now but are well into recovery, people who have been delivered from the bondage that addiction brings, willing to share with you their testimony and offer their support as you take the next step from detoxification—living a sober life.

The Road to Recovery

You know all too well the disappointment and shame that you feel when you relapse.  And, you are never short on excuses, people, places or things you can blame.  But, assuming that you have chosen to remedy your addiction before you have suffered irreversible mental impairments to your memory, remember what that first choice to drink or that first choice to get high brought—alienation from God, broken relationships with friends and family, a decline in health and unseemly changes in your physical appearance, illicit activity and resulting legal problems—unnatural desires

At the onset, the roadblocks on the road to recovery—discipline, accepting responsibility, learning new habits, dealing with cravings, drawing closer to God, learning to love God and people more than you love the pleasure that drugs bring—may not seem worth the time or risk.  The road may seem more miserable than the misery experienced as an addict because the reality is: your addiction may have worsened your financial situation, ruined some relationships beyond repair; or the drugs and alcohol may have aggravated and masked symptoms from an illness.

But so that we do not fool ourselves and expect recovery to be easy, we need to expect these problems, identify them.  Own them and do not look to assign others blame; you created them.  Except that some problems may never be fully be remedied, but with each passing moment of time, be grateful for the freedom afforded you as you learn to self-govern and exercise self control over your own life.

The sad fact is, if you do not earnestly seek to put an end to your alcohol or drug dependence, not only are not coping properly with the realities of life, with each passing moment you are drawing closer to an untimely death.

Addiction does not have result in death.  Just as you made the choice to take the first drink or get the first high, you must also make the decision to stop.  Detoxification and therapy are the first and necessary steps, even if you’ve done it one hundred times before!  If you are at this moment sober, and want to remain that way—if you have made the decision to stop—I can only hope that my advice helps you make what seems impossible seem plausible.  My prayer for you is that it does just that.  “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (Luke 18:27)

Lesson from the Bible

The Bible teaches us that “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:12).  Make the choice to live sober today.  Seek and ask God in prayer to restore and replace your unnatural desires and affections with those lost to addiction.  Ask God to keep you from temptation and deliver you from evil.  And when you ask, know and believe that he will do it!  Know this also, that Jesus Christ can fill a void that no man can.  Commit or recommit yourself to spiritual growth and development and you will transform your self-centered life to a Christ centered one.  A growing relationship with Jesus Christ can and will make the difference.

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Comments

  1. Great wisdom and advice for anyone whose heart is willing to receive it and act upon it.

  2. Excellent article written from a perspective of a heart that knows the fallability of men and women and understands the saving healing power of a personal God.

  3. Hello great job!

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