~by Joe Herzanek
As I look back over three decades of working with chemically dependent men, women, adolescents and their families I ask myself what’s changed?
I try to be optimistic and honest at the same time but I have to say not much. This applies to both the Christian community and the general population. The problem of chemical dependency continues to get worse over time, treatment is only so effective, new ideas and research continue and these things are just as perplexing now as they were in ’77 when I quit. Addiction is called a disease and yet it is one of the few diseases that people can choose to put in remission and leave there if they want to (badly enough).
One of the biggest reasons I continue to work with offenders and their families is that a higher percentage of those incarcerated for criminal behavior know they need a miracle to change. Miracles are a God Thing.
The person with the addiction/substance abuse problem touches so many lives and often remains stubborn and in denial (that he or she even has a problem). Interventions, education, treatment programs, counseling for the addict and the family all play a powerful role in the change process. Just the same, we—as a society are still mired in a dilemma that won’t go away.
If I were asked what is the missing link? What could improve the miserable statistics on treatment and relapse, what would I say? Well in my honest opinion the missing link is the spiritual component. Yes I know we are a very ‘spiritual nation’ but why is this still such a vague part of recovery? And then, “How’s that working?”
Can a recovering person just believe anything they choose concerning things of God? Do addicts and alcoholics need a miracle? I believe they do. I also believe that “the God piece” could be and should be, much more defined.
My personal choice concerning things of God led me back to where I started. In my early years the Christian faith was our family’s faith. I wandered away from that for many years. What I found later (after 16 years of life on alcohol and drugs) was that I had a skewed belief system. I had blamed God for all the bad and took personal credit for all the “good.”
(A funny line heard at a 12-Step meeting: “The difference between me and God is that God doesn’t want to be me”).
Today my higher power has a name. It’s not doorknob; it’s Jesus. I try to follow both His teachings and the 12-Step philosophy at the same time. I have found this to be a winning combination, not just for me—but over the past several years I’ve seen the same thing work in a powerful way for a significant number of my fellow recovering friends, their families and clients I have worked with.
I know I’m losing some readers at this point. That’s okay and I understand. Not everyone will seek this same path. At the same time I would be dishonest if I didn’t share my own personal experience strength and hope. I believe it is God’s will that people recover, resist temptation, remain drug free, that families heal and strife ends. Lasting change is possible for anyone.
>12-Step Recovery and “Things of God.” A Perfect Match. ~by Joe Herzanek
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