Inspiration

Recovery Tips for a Sober Summer

Summer is just around the corner. For us Middle Tennessee residents it can mean an increase in activities. We often associate winter weather with negative moods, but summer can bring about negative changes also. You would think with more sunshine it would have the opposite effect. But, in truth, we always need to manage our recovery process regardless of the season. We take a closer look at how temperatures affect our mood and give you some tips to help you stay sober.

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Avoiding Relapse During the Holidays

Between gift giving, celebrations, and time with family, the holidays are stressful. And, for everyone. Those who are recovering from addiction may find it harder. With an amplified social calendar, money spent on gifts, and spending time with loved ones, we can forget to think about ourselves. What is supposed to be a time full of love and cheer can turn into stress and dismay if the appropriate steps aren’t taken. There are many ways to celebrate the life God has given us and honor the birth of Jesus while avoiding relapse.

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H.O.P.E. – Hold On, Pain Ends

Holding onto Hope through Recovery

I remember like it was yesterday dropping my loved one off at a rehab facility and saying goodbye for the next six months, which seemed like forever to be without my best friend. The flood of emotions saying goodbye in conjunction with the all-consuming feelings of what our bondage of addiction had already entailed was overwhelming. Tears flowed freely throughout my four-hour ride home with what I would call a sense relief along with a ray of hope – which is something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Life had been entangled and engrossed by my loved one. I felt so lost throughout my first week without him. As much of a relief, it was that he was safe and getting help, I found myself at a loss with him gone. A loss of worry, a loss of what to do with myself, and sadly, a loss of purpose. I had taken care of this person for so long and spent my life trying to save him, what do I do now? The question I kept coming back to was, how do I heal? One of the hardest realizations was that I was in need of recovery too. Just as much as addicts need healing and recovery, so do the ones that care for them. I accepted that in order to heal together, we must heal apart and take care of our own wounds.

The Seasons of Healing

Unfortunately, seasons of addiction are not a one-man sport, the whole family gets to play. What starts out as something so innocent and unknown turns into something you never expected. My journey was killing me. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. I stopped eating, stopped sleeping, and stopped dreaming with this big, cheery heart of mine. I started losing every piece of myself. Every second was wrapped up with worry. Every situation was ridden with bitterness and resentment. I’m sure others know these feelings all too well. You may be at the beginning of this journey, or you may be in the ray-of-light middle, but most importantly, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. On the darkest nights, you still aren’t alone.

Shortly into my journey to healing, a mentor told me something so simple which made it all so clear. Their words were, “Just as someone cannot love us enough into making us love ourselves, is the same in that we cannot love someone enough to make them love themselves enough to want to heal from addiction.”

Healing comes from within and learning to love ourselves through God’s eyes, not the world’s. With this epiphany, as hard as it was to admit, I was crippling a man who was capable of walking because I chose to carry him. I was lovingly enabling him and it was time to lovingly detach from him. And at that moment, I realized he was not mine to save and that the healing started within me. It was between God and me, not John and I.

I had to ask for John’s forgiveness and for God’s. I realized that I had tried to love him so much and to make life so perfect that surely, he would never pick up using again. That if I could make life easy enough, that clearly, he wouldn’t want that life of addiction anymore. But I wasn’t capable of holding that power. The only person that could love him enough to heal him was and still is God. I was carrying a burden that wasn’t meant for me to carry.

Some words of the Lord that helped heal me through this journey are:

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13

Accepting the Lord’s Power of Healing & Recovery

In the quiet of my bedroom, broken and hopeless, with tears streaming down my face, I closed my eyes, and I released my grip and handed him over to God. “He is yours now God. Your will be done, not mine.” And in that very moment, I felt the peace that I had searched for in so many different places. A truth that only God could give to me. And just like that, my journey to healing and recovery began.

This choice of acceptance is one that you have to make every morning, if not 100 times a day. I had a mentor tell me one day in a fit of fear, “Lay him back down at God’s feet, you’ve picked him back up.” In some weak and fleshly moments, I still think that I can save him and protect him. God will allow me to pick him back up because that is my selfish will. However daily I release the stubborn resistance and I continue to lay him back down with a sign, every single time of ‘I told you, child, I have him and I’m taking care of him.’

It’s in those moments when trust has been ripped and broken, that I smile because I am learning where my trust truly comes from and He has yet to fail me. Restoration with our loved ones and with God comes in so many forms during this healing process. I became grateful for the wounds that pushed me towards God. I think that’s the most beautiful part.

You think you love the one suffering more than life itself? Well if you can imagine this, God loves them even more than that! The feeling of His kind of love is unfathomable and beyond our deepest imagination. How deep it goes and how wide it stretches, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that will tear God away from His children. Lay the ones struggling down at God’s feet. Drop that tug-a-war rope, let go and let God do his work. Watch them fall into his bountiful grace and watch God pick them up and heal as you’ve never seen healing before.

Journey Down the Path of Recovery with the Addict You Love

Life is an interwoven and intricate plan. I know that this may not be the path you would have chosen for your child, dad, mom, partner, sibling, friend or other loved one, but what I can tell you is that you are about to see God work and He will heal if you will allow Him. Don’t miss the miracle of recovery. Lay this weight down, take off this burden that you are carrying, and give it to a man who died in order to carry it for us. There is healing in His promises. Let him wash you clean. If you have never been a believer, I promise you will not regret it. Finding your faith is like coming home to a place of the most magnificent feeling you’ve ever felt after chasing everything that never made you happy. To wake up knowing God is on your side is enough.

Remember, it is now time to take care of you. You are deserving and you are worthy, don’t ever forget that! It’s time to go to bed knowing that God is working for your good (Romans 8:28). Rest peacefully. Wake up in the morning with a joy that you haven’t felt in a long time. Remember what it feels like to laugh so hard you can’t stop. This is what the Lord’s light will serve you, and beyond.

Releasing the burden of fixing your addicted loved one to God grants you well-deserved freedom. It allows you to be able to go through a day knowing that everything has been taken care of before you put your feet on the ground. To forgive yourself for the things that you did and didn’t do. Guilt that you’ve held onto for far too long. To let go of that blame that you’ve let the enemy hold you to. It’s time to learn to enjoy all the things that you once did again.

Find new passions. Grow in his strength. And know that you absolutely, wholeheartedly, did not cause your loved one’s addiction, you can’t control it, and you can’t change it. Don’t worry though because God can. It’s time to take care of you. Most importantly, learn to love yourself again. Be gentle to yourself, you are meeting parts of yourself that you have been at war with for far too long. Let the healing hands of God wash over you. Let the miracle begin!

S2L Recovery Healing Addicts Through the Lord’s Light in Middle TN

Our community at S2L Recovery focuses on getting the help addicts need through God’s guidance and the Christian faith. We not only heal those addicted to drugs and alcohol, but we also help heal their loved ones, the ones who also need a path to recovery. By working in unity, we can all heal the wounds from a harmful addiction and we can all work towards growing with the Lord. If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction reach out to S2L Recovery today to begin the journey to recovery.

Relapse–Don’t Loose Heart

The Thoughts After Recovery

It is safe to say that anyone who has struggled with addiction is never immune to tempting and dangerous thoughts. It is a strange thing to have made it through the hard part of the recovery process and still struggle with the idea of using. To think about going back to a lifestyle that is so destructive and detrimental to the lives of the user and the user’s friends and family. I call it strange because after becoming sober, truly confronting your past, and going through the painful process of reconciling with that past, the devastation caused is so clear. However, we feel that inevitable pull from the darkness. So, why does such a horrible lifestyle continue to haunt us after we have been sober for some time? How can we effectively and successfully battle these urges?

What is a Relapse?

First, let’s address the stigma of a “relapse”. The world and it’s “performance model of success” wants us to believe that we have failed the process and therefore, we must go back to the start. But if we believe with our hearts that we have already been forgiven and we are indeed living in a “purifying process” (sanctification) of life in Christ, then we don’t have to be haunted by these thoughts.

Words of the Lord the helped me through my addiction and recovery include:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you.” – 1 Peter 4:12

I believe another answer for anyone dealing with this type of struggle after recovering from an addiction is the simple fact that we are indeed creatures of routine. There is a great book by Charles Duhigg called, The Power of Habit, in which he describes the physiological processes of our brains after a habit is formed. In short, our brain activity drastically decreases upon the formation of a habit. For example, when we back out of the driveway it is so ingrained in our unconscious, so routine that our brain doesn’t have to work very hard to complete the task. This very same thing happens in drug use and relapse- it is ingrained in our mind. Therefore, we have to form new habits in order to replace the harmful old ones.

Battling the Thoughts and Urges

How can we effectively and successfully battle these urges? It is almost a cliché to say, “fill the void”, but that is indeed what must be done. One of the most important things I have learned in my journey to be free from my addiction is that my using was a form of idol worship. I believe every single person fills their respective void with something. I believe this is a unique trait to every individual’s own human make up. In my own life, the only way that I can be free from the haunting pull of returning to my demons in drug use is to fill my thoughts and actions with the words of God and a desire to know Him more intimately.

“God has put eternity (or curiosity/ignorance) into our hearts and no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastics 3:11

We are contemplative and inquisitive people who throughout our history have searched for meaning in spirituality. It is our formed opinions and beliefs about the spiritual world that shape our thoughts, actions, and desires. This quest or desire for something bigger than ourselves is at the very center of our existence. Once you start to consider that God is real, then the pursuit of anything other than a life led by Him seems so insignificant.

Recovery and Christianity

In my own life, I eventually had to succumb to the idea that there is a God. Then I had to decide what that looked like, or rather, which God was real to me. I love the Christian faith for so many reasons. One reason is that the stories are verifiable. Our New Testament (along with the Old Testament) tells the story of a transformation of religious customs and traditions by the death and resurrection of Jesus, bringing salvation to any who would believe and pursue Him. The story fulfills years of prophecy which can be traced throughout writings from hundreds and thousands of years previous.

After his death and resurrection, the New Testament tells the story of how this truth of the word of the Lord spread across the known world. With that, there was also the persecution that came to those who chose to spread the beliefs of the Christian faith. What is so amazing to me about this story is how many different people gave account to the same thing. I use to think, how is Christianity any different from a modern-day cult? One simple, yet powerful argument is that the men and women who were the first ones through the door of modern Christianity were continuously imprisoned, beaten, and murdered in horrendous ways. Why would so many people so passionately pursue something that wasn’t real when they knew that it meant a life lived in poverty and quite probably, torture and painful death?

All of this is important, but the main reason I choose to believe in Jesus Christ is because of what he stood for. Some words from the Bible that further my belief in a life led by my beliefs are:

“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, ‘this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’’ – Luke 15:1-2

Tax collectors in the time of Jesus have no comparison by today’s standards. In that time, the land was under Roman rule by way of the Roman army. Roman soldiers were beyond cruel. Imagine a foreign army invades, rapes and murders your family, and then they hire your neighbor to collect taxes from you to be given back to the very army that raped and murdered your family. This was the role of the tax collector in the time of Jesus, and yet he spoke with them, ate with them, loved them, and offered them salvation.

This is the what I choose to fill my void with – the pursuit of righteousness by way of Jesus Christ. Once set upon that path, temptations do not disappear, but they do diminish drastically.

S2L Recovery Healing Addicts in Middle Tennessee

Our S2L Recovery community constantly reminds us of the importance of a life through Jesus Christ. Through his words and teachings, we can help addicts journey down the path of recovery and the blossoming and nourishment of the Christian faith. If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, please reach out to us and let us help you towards recovery!

I want to be Sober for the Holidays

Sober During the Holiday Season

I have been struggling to write this piece for a while now. As someone who is newly sober, I wanted to discuss how to deal with the holiday season, however, while beginning to write my words, I realized how new to being sober I really am. Although I’ve already endured my first sober holiday season, this one would be my first, “out of the bubble,” (i.e out of a rehabilitation program). I think it’s important to simply take these days just as you have been throughout your sobriety – one day at a time.

The Holiday Season as An Addict

The holidays have always been a struggle for me as I fell deeper into my addiction. A time that was supposed to be full of love, cheer, and thanks had turned more into a time of depression, shame, and the sense of being a burden to anyone and everyone around me. When you are addicted, you lose grasp of what is truly important. Not even my family or friends could get in between me and my pursuit of getting my fix. As an addict, my focus was more towards knowing if there was going to be alcohol at the party I was going to, how long church was going to be so that I can make sure I drink enough to get me through the service, or finding out what time the liquor stores were closing/opening. Everything was about my chase for the drink. My family, friends and loved ones were always an afterthought. It was all about my needs and wants. During the season of giving, I was nothing but selfish.

As an addict, one thing that shames me (if you currently are an addict, or have been struggling with addiction, I’m sure you can relate) is that I was never able to get anyone gifts for the holidays. The fact that I would spend the money on a bottle of vodka instead of getting my niece or nephew a toy for the holidays is still something that haunts me to this day. The sad thing is, the shame of showing up drunk, not getting gifts for anyone, or being a burden to hosts, never seemed to outweigh my need for alcohol. Alcohol never judged me. It was my safe place for a long time. It was somewhere I could go to hide and numb my fears and anxieties.

One of the worst fears for an addict is being judged, especially at large gatherings, weddings, holidays, etc. I was always scoffed at. At these gatherings, I was the one person who people would secretly pray would not be able to make it. I had become that person who I always had looked down on my whole life and I knew it, I just didn’t care. Denial is an addict’s favorite weapon, and as with most weapons, it eventually runs out of ammo. That’s when the denial turns into realization and shame.

The Holiday Season in Rehab

When I went to treatment last year, it was right at the start of the holiday season. I finally hit rock bottom and actually wanted to try to get help. A lot of people think, “Wow that is so terrible that a family would drop off their loved one at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility during the holidays.” As if they were taking the easy way out and handing off their problem to someone else. To be honest, that is exactly what I was thinking when I came to S2L Recovery. The thought that “Wow, my family doesn’t want me home for the holidays, that’s so selfish of them,” was embedded in my mind. This couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Being in rehab for the holidays was actually the best thing that could have happened to me at that time during my addiction. At S2L, I was in a safe place, surrounded with people who understood me for the first time in a long time (if not ever), and at the same time, my family was able to celebrate the holidays without having to worry about me. They did not have to worry about getting a call at 2 AM Christmas Eve saying their son is in jail, dead, or has been in an accident. It was a weight lifted off of everyone’s shoulders.

Home for the Holidays

Now being home for the holidays, and no longer in treatment, I can honestly say that I am very excited about the celebratory, loved-filled days coming up. I have a new appreciation for the holiday season and what it is about. This is the first year that I am actually anticipating the holidays instead of dreading them. Being able to face this season with my newly found Christian faith, I have a much deeper understanding and gratitude for what the holidays are all about. I am not only celebrating sobriety this season, but I’m also celebrating Life, God, Forgiveness and second chances.

S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction please seek help. Even though it may feel like it at times, remember that you are NOT alone. We’re all Gods creation; we all have a purpose and are all here to love each other. Our S2L Recovery community is here to help lead anyone’s hand through a recovery journey, giving our love to God and moving towards a fulfilled, peaceful life.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

It’s time for intervention–now what? Part 1

An Intervention

Intervention. One simple word, but yet it evokes such a vast range of emotions. Fear, anxiety, hurt, pain, and bitterness can all keep us from taking this step in addiction recovery. Thoughts that swirl through the mind when contemplating an intervention could include:

  • What will they do?
  • What will they say?
  • What should I say?
  • What if I screw it up?
  • What if they hate me?

This mental narrative can prevent us from taking necessary action. Each recovery story is unique, but for many, an intervention is exactly what got them to the place they needed to be. A place where they were ready for a change.

You may be thinking, “Great! An intervention! That’s what we need to do!” But you also may be wondering on where to even begin. We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Kevin Parker, a recovered addict and former ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery at Rock Point Church in Crawfordsville, IN. His own journey of recovery started when his wife, children, and a few good friends staged an intervention that ended up saving his life and all he held dear. Since being in recovery, Kevin has been able to walk through the healing process with many others, and he has been kind enough to pass on some wisdom to us. When asked we could share this information with our S2L Recovery community, he quickly agreed and said that “all the credit belongs to God!”

The Steps of an Intervention

You may be asking yourself, “what is an intervention exactly?” A formal intervention is when a small group of people who prepare a time to sit down with the addicted loved one in order to: express concern and care, share the love and hurt, and to set up expectations, boundaries, and also consequences if the loved one chooses not to get help. Let’s look into the critical steps of successfully staging an intervention to help your loved one recover from their addiction.

Who to Join and How to Prepare

When setting up an intervention for a drug or alcohol addict you need to ensure you’re surrounding your loved one with the right people. Choosing the right group of people is key in an intervention. A group of 3-8 people is the most ideal, and each person should genuinely love and care about the addict. Be sure to avoid inviting anyone who may be angry or bitter. People with those feelings may use this as a time of retribution, whereas an intervention should be a time of deep love and care.

Once you have formed a group of carefully chosen individuals, set up a time or multiple meetings, to gather prior to the intervention. Take this time to get to know each other on a deeper level of understanding. Share with each other the experiences you’ve had when dealing with your loved one’s addiction. Be sure to reach a place of full comfortability, openness and unified making it so everyone is on the same page. By opening up this discussion everyone will know what stories your addicted loved one is telling and who has truly been helping out. This will be the best safeguard against manipulation and will help everyone to have the full story, understand the full picture and stay accountable. Don’t forget to pray together! This journey will not be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it.

Research and Learn

Encourage each person to learn as much as they can about their loved one’s addiction, about enabling behaviors, and about codependency. The more you each learn and comprehend, the better the group can help support your loved one in a real and healthy way. For example, if you have set up strong, effective boundaries, but Grandma keeps giving the addicted loved one money, nobody wins. Plus, many of us can discover own hurts and hang-ups as we have searched for answers. Loving an addict can seem completely counterintuitive to our feelings. However, we need to take responsibility for our part in the process of this faith-based recovery, as well.

Make sure to conduct thorough research prior to the addiction intervention. Find a rehabilitation center that has a good reputation, map out group meetings close by, and find the name of a Christian counselor or phycologist who specializes in addiction and recovery. Have a plan in place to make it easy for your loved one to take action and get help. Brainstorm all the excuses your loved one could possibly use such as:

  • Time off work
  • The need to rearrange their schedule
  • Help with their kids
  • A ride to meetings or appointments

Make a plan of action and choose who can help with each area of excuse. Be as prepared as possible for whatever excuse your loved one may use to say try and deny help with their addiction.

Choose a Support Team

It’s important for an addict to have a support team, those who will encourage, rally and help them through their journey of recovery. Before the intervention is implemented, choose people to be the addict’s support team! Some of the roles within the support team may be:

  • Who can help clean out the loved one’s house or space – help them get rid of unhealthy items (drugs, alcohol, paraphernalia, etc)
  • Who can visit with them – take time to pray with them and just be with them, enjoy one another’s company.
  • Who can perform consistent check-ins – someone who reaches out on a daily basis to just remind the addict that they are loved, they are supported and through God’s movement they can make it through this recovery.

Make a schedule and be ready to share your plans thoroughly with your loved one.

Choose an Intervention Leader or Facilitator

For many addicts, chaos rules their life. They thrive on manipulation, high emotions, and trying to be in control. Having this main point person run the time will keep things orderly and calm. Agree ahead of time to only have the facilitator speak to the loved one outside of the letter reading time. There will be many moments during the intervention in which this will not be easy. Following this guideline may mean ignoring pleas, insults, and tears. Just remember, the goal is to keep everything progressive in an empathetic, strategic and somber way. You don’t want to let your feelings be in control of the intervention.

Writing a Letter to The Addict You Love

The last preparation step prior to an addiction intervention is writing a 1-2 page letter to your loved one. Each member of this intervention needs to partake in addressing the addict through these written words. This letter should include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Ways that your loved one has been a blessing in your life
  • Ways they have hurt you because of their addiction
  • The consequences if they choose not to get help

For instance, the addict’s son could decide that Dad can’t come to his games anymore, or Mom decides that because of her son’s drug addiction, he can’t have any more help with his bills. Maybe the addict’s wife tells him that he will have to move out, or his friends tell him that he can’t come over any longer.

Consider holding another pre-intervention get-together where you can share your letters with each other. Practice reading them out loud and get comfortable with what you will be saying. Writing and sharing the letter is hard, and it can be very emotional. Take your time, pray for the right words, and remember that the goal is love and restoration!

S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee

Now that you and your group are ready, the next step will be to invite your addicted loved one and hold the intervention itself. We dive into the ins and outs of intervention day in It’s Time For An Intervention: Part 2 – Be Prepared. While dealing with someone who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, redemption and peace can seem hard to come by. But continue to pray, seek the Lord and He will direct you in this process.

Please reach out to S2L Recovery and let us know how we can help you or someone you love through an addiction. We would love to pray with you and help you along this faith-based journey to healing.