Addiction, Treatment, and Jesus

Let me start by saying that this entry, for the subject matter, is very short. I will continue to add to this blog and provide more and more insight, hopefully, as time goes on. This is just a place to start.

The different faces and ways of addiction are limitless. Whether it’s a coping mechanism for emotional pain (usually), a way of life passed down by parents or caregivers, the results of an injury and prescription, or just curiosity out of control. The results are a vacuum, everything else vanishes. Everything orbits around the addiction, people won’t rest until its satisfied, and that …never happens.

When you realize that left to yourself you are your own worst enemy it becomes easy to dislike yourself or the habits that you carry around. For the individual that goes to treatment, whether it’s a one month secular program or a one year faith-based program, what matters most is what happens when you walk out the doors and back into the “real world”. The treatment program is the very beginning of the process that will last the rest of your life. Well, it was that way for me.

Depending on the severity of the addiction it can be easy or seemingly impossible for the individual to stay clean while in the inpatient program. To stay clean and “progress” all they have to do is not use substances and complete assigned curriculum. The structure that surrounds them is holding them up. They are told when to wake up, when to eat, what books to read, what groups to go to, and what time to take their medication. The progress that is made in their lives is a night and day difference. If there was ever a good time to take a “photo every day” and look at the change that happens it would be while a person is at treatment. The physical health people gain back is incredible when they quit putting death in their bodies. The emotional and spiritual change can be drastic as well. But it’s not what happens in the program that is most important, it is what will happen afterwards. That is where people make awful errors that plague them, often for many years. They think that treatment ends when they walk out the door.

So with the completion date quickly approaching you would think there would be a well-crafted plan put in place for the individual by the professionals. “Don’t go back to mom & dads house”, “Quit hanging out with your old friends”, “Look for a different job”, “Get involved someplace that cares about you”, “Don’t go to that part of town anymore”. But often times this doesn’t happen and the individual is left to themselves. So it should be no surprise for the treatment centers and families when the individual gets out of the inpatient program and “falls flat on their face”. The only reason they were getting clean was because of the structure that surrounded them, the program. Unfortunately there are a lot of treatment centers that BANK on this cycle happening.

I have literally seen thousands of individuals in treatment programs. It’s always great to see them excited about the possibility of having a new lease on life. But there are a few things that must happen in order for them to be successful and fulfilled in the years to come.

Here are some: (Each of these bullets could have its own blog entry. That will be later on.)

To Be Successful After Treatment as a Jesus Follower

  • A life that is dependent on Jesus Christ. You yield to him and his ways, not your own. (stomps out your pride)
  • Be “Ugly Honest”. If you tell the truth, the whole truth, it will be ugly and that is required in order to continue in the process of healing to become more and more like Jesus. (stomps out your pride)
  • Live in community. You are not made to be independent (hurts our pride I know). At a bare minimum, get involved with a local church that LOVES, TEACHES, AND PURSUES JESUS.
  • Ask for help, a lot! You are desperate for it! (stomps out your pride)
  • See a pattern? Get proactive in finding ways to live for Jesus and other people. It’ll make not living for yourself (pride, addiction) easier.

Until next time, you can make it, because of Jesus.
-Cameron Birk

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