spring 2 life

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!

4 Lies we believe when loving an addict

Loving an Addict

None of us ever plan on a loved one becoming an addict. We don’t go into friendships, relationships, marriages, or have children thinking “I better be prepared in case this person ends up with some bad habits.” So, when we find ourselves in just that position, it’s normal to not know what to do. In addition, the spiritual element causes us to see an enemy who wants to destroy our loved ones and allow chaos and confusion to take hold in our lives. So many of us have tried to help, wanted to be helped, and even in the deepest desperation to help, we see our best efforts fall flat (at best) or enable (at worst).

To understand deeper what it’s like to not only love an addict but what burdens may be brewing in your own soul due to this addiction, S2L Recovery spouse broke down four of the biggest lies that she believed while her husband was in his addiction and recovery.

1. I’m Not the One Who Needs Help

“What should I do at the meeting?” I asked awkwardly, “I mean since I’ve never struggled with being addicted drugs or alcohol?” With kindness and a little pity, the woman sitting across from me simply said, “Ask God to show you where your own hang-ups are.” Still feeling frustrated and nervous I completed my first group meeting. Not yet understanding co-dependency, and knowing that God was calling us to work with people who struggle with addictions, I sat down in a circle of women who were wanting to recover from chemical dependency.

Terrified that I would be found out as a “fake” I tried to avoid pointed questions and was cautious of over-sharing. However, what I learned from being in that group has forever changed me. I got to see the human side of addiction. I saw moms desperate to be reunited with their kids, women, who were willing to put in the hard work to become who God said they were – ladies who loved and laughed and cried and cared about each other. I did ask God to reveal to me where I needed to recover, and he used this group meeting to teach me about trusting Him with the people I care about.

Some of the Lord’s words that helped me discover what I needed to recover and heal include:

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

He taught me that He is the one who works in their lives, it’s not my job to fix them or change them.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

He taught me that I wasn’t in control, and what a sweet blessing that really is.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

It’s easy to think we don’t need help, but that’s a lie that will keep us from healing and learning what we do need to do.

2. What I Say Doesn’t Matter

Anger, tears, apathy, manipulation, begging, and belittling are a few of the ways that we try to talk our loved ones out of their struggle. Words are a big deal to me. I say a lot of them, write a lot of them, and I take the words of others to heart (any other “Words of Affirmation” love-language people out there?). I love using thorough words to communicate my exact thoughts and feelings. When my boyfriend (now husband) started admitting little things about his new harmful habits, I was often at a loss for words. What should I say to encourage him to stop? What if my words push him away? How can I convey my concern and change his heart, but not lose him?

Fast-forward several years, we are newly wedded and I’m coming home to find him high-as-a-kite more often than not. My concern had turned to deep desperation. Sometimes anger spurred mean words and accusations. Sometimes hurt poured out tears and I would beg him to stop. I tried threats, I tried to shame him, I tried anything I could think of to pierce his heart. It wasn’t until I decided to turn it over to God and to really trust Him, that I began to see any change.

I know the power of words well, so I turned my efforts into a firm, but kind approach. I took the words I poured onto my husband and started to pour them out to God in prayer. Instead of begging my husband to stop, I started begging God to move. Instead of crying to get my way, I was crying to my Heavenly Father, who loves me and holds me.

Some words that helped me heal and move:

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

Instead of anger and belittling, I started treating my husband with respect. Not because he was worthy of it on his own merits, but because God calls me to do it out of my love for Him.

“Respect each other out of your reverence for Christ. For wives, this means to respect your husbands as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:21-22 (NLT)

Prayer made all the difference. How I spoke to my husband and to the Lord changed everything.

3. I Can’t Tell Anyone Else

One of the most common lies I’ve seen loved ones of an addict believe is that we can’t share with anyone because “they won’t understand.” Ecclesiastes states, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Understand that nothing we are going through is new, many others have gone through these struggles, too. The enemy wants us to feel alone, isolated, and secretive. The enemy wants us to believe that our loved one will never forgive us. However, if we reach out, if we tell someone what’s going on, then we might hear the two best words – “Me too.”

God created us in His image to be relational. We were never supposed to walk through life without support and accountability. When we find a person we can trust and we share what we are going through, we create an ally in the fight. We have someone to pray for us, someone to check in on us, who asks about things and someone who will keep us accountable for how we handle situations, struggles, and life.

Another healing verse from Ecclesiastes that helped me through my loved one’s addiction is:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

4. It’s Hopeless

The biggest lie, and perhaps worst lie, that Satan can lead us to believe is that our loved one’s situation, that our situation is hopeless. When we believe that things are hopeless, we give up. We stop praying, stop caring, and we stop seeking help. We may write our struggles off, we may block them out, we may detach from the world, all in an effort to stop our pain. We may feel depressed or anxious, always anticipating the next big disaster.

When we started visiting St Kitts to prepare for our move there, we would share with people we met why God was sending us to their country. We would talk about starting recovery programs to help people with addictions. Multiple times residents responded with the typical, “Oh, don’t bother to help the adults here. The adults here are hopeless.” You could clearly see how hopelessness had affected the culture. There were no drug and alcohol recovery programs, no help for anyone beyond detoxing in the hospital. If you truly believe something is hopeless, then you give up in believing that things will ever change. Having hope means everything in this journey. The best way to find enlightening hope for our loved ones is by having faith that God can do anything. He can give back true light and hope to those feeling such loss and darkness.

Words of hope:

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

”I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NLT)

Living Beyond the Lies

Please note that the lies we endure on this journey is infinite and goes beyond this list. Many of our perspectives are skewed from lies that we have believed most of our lives. How we have learned to cope with our pain or what the world around us tries to sell as truth may be masking the path to fulfillment and healing. The best way to defeat the lies is by knowing what God says, what the real truth is.

If you are in the midst of loving someone who is struggling with an addiction, then get into the Word of God. Open your bible every day and ask God to speak His truth to you. Just like light drives out the darkness, the truth of God will drive out the lies. The way S2L Recovery leads addicts to sobriety is through a Christian faith-based program, allowing everyone walking on the road to recovery can be embraced the words and love of God.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” John 1:5 (NLT)

If you or a loved one needs help, please contact us for support and guidance.

Why does addiction kill some and others recover?

As a man who has battled a horrible addiction to opiates and now, a pastor and director for an addiction recovery program, I have seen both sides of addiction and recovery. I have done funerals for men that were not any crazier, wilder, or riskier then I was. They died from doing the exact same thing I was doing when I lived a life of addiction. So, why did I survive and they didn’t or couldn’t?

I could try and explain these deaths by how some people receive laced drugs (like fentanyl-laced heroin) or have unknown medical issues (like cardiomyopathy) but I don’t feel as though that would explain the whole story. I don’t write these following words flippantly because this is an extremely hard topic for me to discuss. I have images of mother’s faces grimacing with the pain and sorrow that comes from burying their children burned in my mind. It’s not only the internal empathy ravaging my soul, but I have also lost people that I love to addiction, too.

The Question of Recovery

The question, “Why does addiction kill some and others recover?”, is a question that I cannot answer completely, or at least to everyone’s satisfaction. What I can say is that God is Sovereign and we are not promised tomorrow. I know, without a shred of a doubt, based on the authority of God’s word that people can and do recover from addiction.

I have to admit that early on my default position was to shake my fist at God and say why did you not save them? I would even get frustrated and ask God why would you call me to a ministry that is so littered with destruction? This just doesn’t seem right. God revealed to me through His word and other pastors that the feeling I had that, “this is not right”, is exactly what the Bible teaches. God created a perfect place where we could live in perfect unity with Him without the destruction of pain and death, however, something did go way wrong.

As you read the creation/fall account in Genesis 1-3, you see that God’s perfect creation was devastated by sin. That death and destruction entered into the world and a curse came upon the earth. We have all tasted the brokenness of a fallen world. I cannot blame Adam or Eve for this curse as a result of sin because I willingly participated in it.

The hope that I hold onto dearly is that God promises that one day all of this ends for the redeemed. God provides a way out of this darkness and destruction through Jesus. God says in James 1 that He can even use this pain and suffering to bring Him glory. He can use the seasons of trial to cause us to draw closer to Him and persevere.

God promises one day that the presence of sin will be removed for the redeemed. But he also makes promises for us here and now. God says that He will provide rest from the chaos. He promises that we can have true peace and joy when everything going on around us should cause the opposite. He tells us that we do not have to worry or be overwhelmed with anxiety. He promises that His children have victory over death, that death has no sting. Even through the funerals I have officiated for believers, I can rest assured that Jesus conquered death and one day we will all meet again.

The Takeaway

I hold steadfast to these promises made by God. They encourage me to faithfully bring the message of hope from the Gospel. God lays out in His word that we can have victory from the yokes of slavery and that includes the chains of addiction. When I read these truths I see that breaking the chains of addiction doesn’t have to be a mundane daily admittance of “I am an addict”. It’s actually the opposite. It is, “I am a bloodstained child of the Kingdom; I am made new and I am not defined by the wickedness of my past; I press on to know the Lord. I don’t claim to be perfect but I don’t look back and I press on toward the goal to which Christ called me.”

If someone you know is struggling with addiction then step in and have these hard conversations. Make it as hard as possible for them to stay in an addictive lifestyle and show them how easy it can be for them to walk into recovery. If you personally are struggling with addiction, please reach out and get help. The S2L Recovery program helps addicts throughout Middle TN and beyond to complete a faith-based recovery program. This drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center can be the catalyst to launch you into the “new creation” that God has called you to. So be bold and act. Press on brother or sister and behold your creator. What you behold is what you will become more like.

Closing Words of the Lord

“[16] So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. [17] For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, [18] as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV) 2 Corinthians 4:16-1