S2L

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!

It’s Time for an Intervention–Be Prepared – Part 2

An Intervention: What to do After the Plan has Been Set

We have discussed how to begin the preparation process for a formal intervention, noting the importance of what an intervention should encompass and entail. An intervention is an intentional time to sit down with someone we love and express love and concern. For many addicts, their intervention is a precious memory of something hard, but also something that put them on the path to change, on the path to recovery. There are so many factors that go into having a healthy intervention day.

The Day of the Intervention

Now that you have versed yourself on the preliminary necessities, it’s time for the day you’ve been strategizing for. You have the 3-8 people who love your loved one and want to genuinely help guide them through their addiction recovery. As a group, you have learned all you can about the addiction, and about how to help without enabling. You have prayed, shared and made plans of action. Everyone has agreed to the ground rules and now it’s time to do this thing.

Come up with a creative way to get your loved one to the intervention. Very few people with painful addictions will show up if they anticipate what is going on. Plan a family dinner, a game night, small party, or another engaging event. Have someone designated to pick up your loved one or to ensure that they come to the intervention. Have a planned start time, plan out where each person will sit, and have every single, meticulous detail worked out before your addicted loved one arrives. Place people of high influence closest to your loved one. (Side note: one of our friends shared that having his daughter right beside him during his intervention made a huge impact!)

Implementing the Intervention

When your loved one starts to realize what’s going on, they may start to think, “Oh great. Here it comes.” However, the idea is to shower them with love and to show them the light of Jesus through your words and actions. The greatest thing they need to take away is that you care deeply about them and so does God. Nothing else you say or do will matter if they don’t first hear your love and the Lord’s love.

Have the designated facilitator open up and share why you all are there. Everything communicated should be said with respect. Avoid any temptation to talk down to your loved one. It’s very important that we help them maintain their dignity through this addiction recovery process. They are already telling themselves all the worst things and believing all of it too. Your goal should be to see them as Christ sees them and then to treat them that way.

Once the table has been set for the intervention, go around the circle one at a time and have each individual read their letter to the addict. No one should interrupt anyone else, and no one should speak unless it’s their turn to read their letter. As emotions rise, the temptation to jump in, defend yourself or your loved one, or to react to manipulation will be strong. You want to do your best to keep everything calm because, in a situation like dealing with addiction, the environment could easily become a jumble of emotions, reactions and non-moving tension.

Concluding the Intervention and Taking the Next Steps

At this point during the intervention process, introduce the options for getting help, and be prepared to address any excuses that your loved one may give. Remember, this is scary for them. Their addiction is their comfort zone, and leaving it behind is terrifying. Let them know who their support team is. Their own personal rallying team who will plan to come by and check on the recovering addict, clean out unhealthy items, be with them, and pray with them through this process.

Be sure to have the chosen facilitator review the consequences laid out in the letters. Make it clear what life will look like if your loved chooses to get help and what their life will look like if they choose to not pursue rehabilitation. Everyone will need to be prepared to follow through on their consequences. Having your own healthy boundaries is the most loving thing you can do to encourage your loved one to get the help they need.

By trying to love and care for them in the past, you may have been enabling their behavior for years. Change can be just as scary for us as for them. By the end of the intervention, the should facilitator collect the letters and save them for your loved one. These letters can be a great reminder down the road for your loved one as they pursue recovery to their addiction. If your loved one chooses the path to healing, it’s time to put your plans into action to get them the help they need.

Some Things to Remember After the Intervention

An intervention is simply the beginning of the journey for any recovering addict. The key to implementing a successful rehabilitation process is following through with everything said and promised. By leading a faith-based recovery path, there are many ways to embrace the word of God and continue down towards sobriety.

Once the intervention has concluded there are a few key components to keep close:

  • Don’t forget to pray – Every day, over and over. Nothing that we can do for our loved one is more powerful than prayer.
  • The intervention team should keep meeting – by continuing to be, the addicted loved one can’t manipulate anyone. It also helps keep everyone in the group accountable.
  • Continue to educate yourselves after the interventionseek help and support for yourself. The road to recovery is long and has many moving parts. Heal yourself too.
  • Do not give your loved one money – If you have to, go buy or pay for the specific need yourself. It’s better to never financially support someone in any type of an addiction.
  • When you are enabling an addict it causes stress an anxiety in your own life – Trying to help a loved one through addiction is a daunting journey. Codependency often means that your life and well-being depends on that person’s life and well-being. Understand the harmful potency of codependency especially when dealing with addiction. While your loved one recovers you too should attend meetings, join online support groups like Refuge for Families, and/or start seeing a Christian counselor or phycologist that specializes in codependency.
  • We are children of God, made in His image and with a purpose – Most importantly remember our identities are those of God’s children. He/She/You are not your addictions, hang-ups, pasts or hurts. Getting out of denial and accepting the problem is important, but we can’t stay in the “I’m an addict, alcoholic, codependent, etc,” mentality. We have to see who God calls us to be in order to move forward and to heal.

S2L Recovery in Middle Tennessee

Our S2L Recovery community is here to fulfill our purpose in guiding those struggling with addiction through a Christian-based rehabilitation program. If you or someone you love is in need of recovery, please reach out and let us walk with you. We are here to help you through this process towards a life with God and sobriety.

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.