Following HIS Way to Recovery
“Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
Many who are actively involved in the treatment of those entangled in the web of drug addiction have long struggled with the tragedy of relapse. What causes a recovering addict, apparently well on the road to recovery after intervention, to return to the sordid world of drug abuse?
There is sufficient reason for Christians to look with skepticism on secular treatment modes, often built around a twelve-step recovery process, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These long-entrenched recovery programs base their efforts on the false presupposition that addiction is a disease, and that the victim is doomed to wear the sad nametag “drug addict” or “alcoholic” for the rest of his life. While many substance dependent individuals do become diseased—physically, mentally, and spiritually—after lengthy involvement with such dangerous substances as heroin, methamphetamine, alcohol, or painkillers, there is nothing that requires the person to take the first drink or pop the first pill. It is a matter of poor lifestyle choices.
The other glaring deficiency in such programs is that Jesus Christ is not at the core of their methods of treatment. These support groups allow their adherents to define the “higher power” the programs reference. Yet an addicted person is able to define little in the early stages of recovery, much less produce a definition of divinity. At best in such a process, God is only a part of the program. If hope for recovery and a better life is to be realized, it is important that there be total surrender to God, not just acknowledgement of some higher power.
In spite of the shortcomings of these well-known recovery programs that lead to a higher-than-necessary probability of relapse, some devoted Christians hold responsible positions in them and are committed to helping the addicted look to Christ as the source of their recovery.
Unfortunately, the possibility of relapse exists for those involved in Christ-centered programs as well. While recovering addicts often have salvation encounters with Jesus within such programs, and even though these programs do encourage daily Bible study and prayer as a way for individuals to redirect their lives, these sixty-day or ninety-day programs cannot provide the complete regimen of treatment that is necessary to achieve permanent recovery. These Christian centers only provide the beginning diet for what should eventually be the achievement of permanent sobriety as an individual moves to intentionally adopt a better way of life. To successfully and completely recover, these individuals need the daily encouragement and advice of trained Christian mentors, dedicated to assimilating these young Christians into a local church where they will become dedicated servants of God.
These victories cannot be achieved in an environment that perpetuates disenfranchisement from the balance of the body. How can a person be expected to emerge anything other than a recycled drug addict when he is isolated in a group with only other drug addicts?
Persons recovering from serious addictions need far more than another “group meeting.” Godly mentors in our churches who are willing to give themselves sacrificially to the training and development of those who may not have had previous exposure to appropriate role-models are critical to these efforts. Drug addicts need real-life templates to follow and disciples to emulate—not the stigmatization of being forever caricatured by the exclusive title “drug addict.”
I would further suggest that it is accountability rather than anonymity that leads people to wholeness and newness of life. While accountability is significantly less attractive, the consequence can be a great motivator toward righteous living.
These important features are at the heart of a new treatment and recovery program–named HIS Way–that is designed to be implemented through the local church.
There are three keys necessary for its success:
- Both the church staff and the congregation must be committed to the success of the program.
- A group of dedicated, godly individuals must be trained to become mentors.
- The participants must be recovering drug addicts who are serious about achieving permanent freedom from drug addiction and adopting a committed Christian lifestyle in a local church.
These individuals must agree to be accountable to the mentor assigned to them and must participate fully in the structured six-month program. It is helpful for each participant in the program to be willing to attend a primary Christ-centered treatment program before being accepted in HIS Way at a church.
One of the many benefits of this program is that it is suitable for churches of all sizes. This effort has the potential to impact the Kingdom of God by discipling those who once were broken but have become whole through Jesus. With the successful completion of HIS Way, these participants will become valued and loved members of local bodies of believers and relapse will no longer be an option.
I used to be a drug addict, but I am no longer a drug addict. I used to be a recovering individual, but I am no longer recovering. I am recovered forever by the grace of God, and that same hope can belong to you or anyone you love!
For twenty-eight years, Ted Stone has been educating Southern Baptists and others about the drug problem in America. A prolific writer, he has authored or co-authored four books on the subject and presented his message of hope and permanent recovery in thousands of venues. He has walked across the United States three times to tell his personal story of redemption. He may be contacted about his ministry, to order his books (Somebody Special and The Drug Tragedy–Hope for the One Who Cares), or for specific details about HIS Way at P.O. Box 1397, Durham, NC 27702, or by telephone at 919-477-1581.