by Charles Mayo, MACP, PLPC,LAC, CSAT – candidate
When I was asked to write an article related to our national position in the war on addiction, I had to take some time to really ponder what that meant as both a mental health professional, as well as a recovering alcoholic working to live his life by the spiritual principles inherent in 12-step programs.
The statistics on alcoholism and drug addiction are staggeringly disheartening. The number of drug overdoses in the U.S. have more than quadrupled in the last 10 years. Drug addicts are no longer the typical “junkies” you see portrayed in the movies. They are the popular cheerleader with the 4.0 GPA, the 30-year-old business man who started taking pain pills in college, a stay-at-home mother, the high school running back, the nurse, the chef and many other American workers driven to perform in high-stress environments during long hours at work.
It’s likely there is an addict or alcoholic somewhere in your life; a friend’s child, your own child, a distant cousin, a co-worker – it is widely accepted that every person struggling with addiction touches 27 people. They are struggling to hang on to their secret but ashamed to ask for help. Addiction does not discriminate, and the first place we can start to fight this war is by doing away with the judgment and stigma that goes along with addiction.
This is a tall order for many people who are convinced that it is as simple as making a decision to stop. They just can’t buy into the idea that addiction is a disease. However, it really is much more complicated. The good news is addiction is a disease people can recover from. Most addicts are overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame, and the only way to escape those feelings is to use more of the drug that has trapped them in a place where there seems to be no way out. With all that, addicts are people that have value and worth, but they are no longer in touch with that feeling.
The state of addiction today is much like the country in general. Increasingly God and Christ are being pushed out and made to seem no longer relevant. The AA Big Book (p. 59) says, “May you find him now,” and that is the solution. But there are more and more treatments and programs springing up that don’t have the spiritual foundation of the steps, nor do they even acknowledge the need for spirituality, despite the understanding that a relationship with a power greater than ourselves is the answer. Though Bill W. is credited with these steps, it was a humble Jesus who, in the Sermon on the Mount, said “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” And as John Piper put it, “Blessed are those who feel keenly their helplessness and their unworthiness and their emptiness and are driven by them to the grace of God.” For the addict, what started out as the solution to a variety of issues has now become the greatest lifelong problem.
The state of addiction today is definitely disturbing, and the numbers are overwhelming. Even behavioral issues such as sex, video games, porn, gambling and something as essential as food consumption has been affected by the interaction of addiction. I often think of the ways the plight of the addict and the Christian is so similar. The Christian can be saved and yet still struggle with sin. As Paul said, “The things I don’t want to do, I do, and the things I want to do, I don’t.” Addiction science around the brain and new therapy approaches from the counseling world have really made a lot of inroads, and rarely will any disease have so many dedicated to helping those afflicted.
What does the Christian in Baton Rouge do? They pray for those in my family and yours who struggle with addiction. Secondly, one central theme in almost all addicts is that they no longer feel lovable – we as Christians are known for our love for one another and must continue loving those struggling with addiction. Do not get in the way of God and end up instead enabling your loved one. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, call us at The Grove today.
About Charles: After my own battle with addiction for 35 years, God used the 12 steps to set me free and begin a journey to totally change every aspect of my life. I received a master’s degree from Troy University in Clinical Mental Health, as well as a bachelor’s in Christian Ministry from Leavel College of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Since earning my LAC in September of 2014, I have led group and family sessions, as well as individual sessions in order to create complete care planning programs for my clients. In July of 2015 I began the journey toward the LPC as a PLPC with a supervisor. As that goal of the LPC draws closer I have gone to IITAP school and completed the 4 modules of Certified Sexual Addiction Therapy (CSAT) training. Outside of my professional career, I have also worked as a spiritual counselor for many years. I have operated as the recovery pastor for a church in Alabama for nearly three years completing my master’s, and previously lead a Celebrate Recovery session at Celebration Church in New Orleans. Outside of my work life, I enjoy the peace of living on the Amite river despite the losses of the flood.