I was motivated to write this article, published in 2001 shortly after a dear friend of mine recessed back into his alcoholism. It was around this time of year, that this dear friend got drunk one night, fell asleep in his house while smoking a cigarette and ended dying in a house fire. This dear friend had recently split up with his wife because of the families own inability to deal with this rehash of addiction. I write this in his memory. He was a member of the worship band I played in and was a dear friend. I firmly believe that he loved God, but just didn't have the resources to deal with his addiction. May each of us, see, help, and love those we know who face addictions. May we be a reflection of the love God has for them, and may we present that love in a way that they will receive, knowing all along the way, they are the ones responsible for their actions, not we, but they.
Addictions Breaking the Habit
Michael A. Furches
Why would someone choose to follow a habit that is self destructive? In many ways that is exactly what an addiction is, a bad habit that can become self destructive. Researchers have discovered that it takes approximately 21 days to develop a habit. For many, their habits are worthwhile habits like praying, going to church, reading the Bible, exercise, and more. Others have habits like smoking, alcohol use, drugs, and overeating. Bad habits often become addictions. When a person practices a habit that is self destructive we often ask, "Why? Can't they just quit?" The questions we sometimes ask shows the lack of understanding for what the individual with addictions is going through. Many Christians often place the blame on the individuals who live with addictions and we offer little or no help at helping them overcome those addictions
The National Institute of Health has identified that 1 in 10 Americans are addicted to alcohol. When looking at various drugs, including both legal and illegal drugs such as nicotine and over the counter prescriptions, that number goes to approximately 1 in 6. Despite what many believe many addictions, including alcoholism and drug abuse are at epidemic levels. If our churches mirror the communities they exist in, and if we are seeking to save the lost in our communities, we must be prepared to assist those who have addictions.
There are many reasons people follow their addictions. There is clear, indisputable evidence that many alcoholics have a predisposition to the disease. Hereditary, plays a factor as to why some become more easily addicted than others. The environment and community one lives in also has a major influence. Many are looking for a means of escape from the world around them, while others are influenced by peer pressure. Some individuals may use drugs, such as crack or heroin only one time before developing a physical and/or psychological addiction. Others, who have previous addictions can easily fall back into those addictions if they give into the temptation, even if just one time. This is true for any addiction. Without the help of Jesus Christ, close friends, a community of supporters and individual will power one will have difficulty overcoming their addiction.
The most effective programs helping with addictions have as a core ingredient, reliance upon God. Most 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) were originally rooted not only in God but specifically Jesus Christ. While there is reward in this approach there is also a danger. Many who have gone through 12 step programs believe that because of their involvement they have the support and help from God. While recognition of God is vital and necessary, a belief in God does not mean one has the assistance of Christ and the Holy Spirit or that they have a relationship with Him.
Matthew 7: 21-23 is a clear indication from Christ. Many think they know Him, but in reality do not. "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name cast our demons, and in your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
In Scripture wine is used in celebrations, as medicine and casual drink so it is difficult to support total abstinence of alcohol with these examples. However, it is very easy to see the numerous references to the sins of being drunk, being a glutton and numerous other behaviors that support an addictive lifestyle. It is also important to look at Scriptural examples of not leading others into temptation. Knowing of the hereditary and disease related issues with various addictions we, as Christians, should set good examples for those around us being careful to not lead them into temptation.
Knowing of the Scriptural references of addiction sins, and then continuing in that behavior one must realize that he is ultimately serving his physical desires as opposed to his spiritual needs. Paul explains in Romans 13: 13,14 "Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." Our appearance and actions should mirror those of Jesus; our focus is on Him, not ourselves.
Persons with addictions understand all too well the words in Proverbs 23: 29-35. It is almost as if the Psalmist had an alcohol addiction. There are the familiar descriptions of sorrow and destruction that comes with being intoxicated. Anyone struggling with an addiction can read these words and relate.
Those with addictions know about the destruction they are leading themselves into. Christ also knew, and made an effort to reach out to, love, and save those who lived in sin. He, was Himself, accused of being a glutton and drunkard, in part because He loved the addicted enough to make the effort to spend time with them, in their environment, loving them, seeking relationship and ultimately dying for each persons sin. "The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!' Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." Matthew 11:19. For many it is a matter of looking them in the eye and saying, "I love you, let me help."
The first Bible verse that many learn is John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." The ultimate truth of God's love exemplified in this verse is as much for those facing addictions as those who have grown up in church. The lasting implications of that truth should not be lost, especially by those facing addictions. For those having friends who suffer from addictions we should constantly strive to assist them in understanding God's love for them. John 10:10 states in part, "…I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly." Christ would choose that we have life in Him. Life we don't have while being controlled by substances or actions that take us away from our families, self-control, the church, and ultimately Him.
One of the traps of addictions is that many of those addicted think it is still possible to have a life in Christ while at the same time being trapped by their addiction. Numerous passages of Scripture tell us otherwise including, Colossians 3:1-5,
Slavery still exists; the question is; Are we a slave to our sins and addictions or are we free? Are we working with the addicted person, whether they be family or friends? Are we helping provide a route of escape to stay in their addictions by making excuses for them? It is important that you love them fully, but that you also let them receive the consequences of their sin. For many it is only from living with, seeing, and understanding that their sin has consequences that they are motivated to not repeat their sin.
For the finished and edited version contact The Christian Leader, Hillsboro Kansas
No part of this story can be used without written permission of Mike Furches and The Christian Leader, Hillsboro Kansas.
The following video is from the Jim Carroll Band and was in the movie Basketball Diaries with Leonardo DeCaprio. It is a great movie that shows the horror of addictions. When I was with the band Route 66 we used to do this song on a regular basis with two additional verses I wrote for the song, all with real people, describing real events.
The two verses I wrote with the song were
Cherry got stabbed from a deal gone bad
Darryl used a bullet Dinky Od'd
Sarah passed on from huffing Pam
Jeff took a leap off a bridge indeed
All my friends who died on me
These are my friends who died
Your friend Eddy must have been a good man
My best friend his name was Stan
A musician, writer and a thinker too
Stan didn't know what to do.
So he took a shot gun put it to his head
Now my friend named Stan is dead.
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