2013, Issue 3 - May/June
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EDITOR'S VIEW
Power and Process
THe Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states “We … are … men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (Alcoholics anonymous, Foreword to the First Edition, xiii, italics mine).  At the same time, those of us who attend 12-step meetings usually identify ourselves as recovering.  I have always struggled with the disparity between “recovered” and “recovering.”  Recovered appears to imply a finished work while recovering denotes that recovery is ongoing.  Many in the field of addiction have strong thoughts and feelings about this issue, and struggle to reconcile the difference between these two perspectives.  As I’ve continued to wrestle to understand this issue myself, I’ve come to see recovered and recovering point us to two wonderful, but differing aspects of our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ.

Recovered connotes the power of God to deliver us from the chains of bondage to addiction.  It reminds us of the finished work that God desires to do in each one of us.  “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Corinthians 15:57. It reminds us of our holy standing with God in Christ Jesus. “He has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault” Colossians 1:22. “You are complete through your union with Christ” Colossians 2:10. Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” 2 Corinthians 2:14.

Recovering points us to the process of sanctification that we are now in, and will continue to be in for eternity.  Paul writes “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already achieved perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus possessed me” Philippians 3:12.  He also talks about the process of sanctification when he says “I die daily” 1 Corinthians 15:31. 

As a recovering child of God, I sometimes struggle with black and white thinking.  Isn’t it wonderful to know that God is not limited by our finite thinking.  He can express his power in our lives in the context of our very human process.  I am learning more each day how to let go and let Him be God.  In his mercy, he does not allow us to pigeon-hole him into boxes of our own making.  I, for one, am grateful for that.


David Sedlacek, PhD, LCSW, CFLE
Professor of Family Ministry and Discipleship
Andrews University
sedlacek@andrews.edu



FOCUS ON THE RECOVERY PROCESS
12 STEPS to Recovery —  STEP #8  
The instruction to make a list of the persons we’ve harmed, will require some intentional thinking concerning people whose lives were affected by our addictive behaviors. This will take time and contemplation. This list may well begin with God. In what ways have my harmful habits, addictions, obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions hurt His heart of love and diminished His reputation. Next, we might include the members of our family of origin, and if we have our own family - our wife, husband and/or children. Others who may have experienced harm could include friends, teachers, classmates, work associates, fellow church members, etc. And don’t forget one’s self. 

Next, it is important to clarify the word “harm.”  Many will say to themselves and others:  “My harmful habits haven’t hurt or harmed anyone but me.”  “I provided for my family.”  “No one knows about my addiction.”  However, harm may be understood as more than just overt abuse.  Whether in the context of physical, financial, sexual, emotional, or spiritual harm - a diminished ability to be all that a person is capable of being is also harmful.  People may be harmed as a result of my not being fully present in mind and body.  Neglect is considered a form of harm.  

This step includes the process of becoming willing to make amends to all the people who are on the list.  Willingness is about preparing for Step 9, which will involve the actual making amends with the people on the list.  This step (Step 8) suggests a readiness to do “whatever it takes” to mend broken relationships with these people and to strengthen the relationships that are weak as a result of the harm we have caused them to experience.

The amends consist of more than just being sorry.  These amends are for the purpose of righting wrongs whenever possible and taking responsibility for the harm caused.  The example of Zacchaeus comes to mind as someone who was ready and willing to “make amends” to the people he had harmed.  He spoke of his willingness as follows:  “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Luke 19:8 NLT.

Perhaps you are asking:  “How will I make amends to God and myself?”  A good place to begin might be to consider participating in a Journey to Wholeness group. Willingness to “make” amends to oneself may necessitate stopping or balancing out-of-control behaviors.  This might mean planning to attend a 12 – step group for overeaters if that is your challenge.  Or if your harmful practices include immoral sexual activity – “sexual immorality is a sin against your own body” (I Corinthians 6:18 NLT), finding a 12 – step group for people with your compulsive acting out will be a good place to begin making amends relative to these behaviors.  Remember, God loves you just as much as the others you have harmed.

 

Contributed by Ray Nelson

 

Testimony
From more than a twelve-year addiction to crack cocaine, estrangement from family, licentious living and many near death experiences, God has delivered me. He has literally moved me from the crack house to His house. He has restored my mind and has equipped me to tell men and women of His boundless love, unfathomable mercy and amazing grace. Not only has he hired me for the position of ambassador, I came to realize that He had paid my wages two thousand years before I accepted the job.

In my journey from crack to Christ, I made some amazing discoveries. As I dwell upon the life of Jesus, my character was being transformed. As I contemplate His payment on Calvary, my pride was turned into humility. My drug addiction and drunkenness were remade into sobriety as I beheld His glory and majesty. The rough traits of my personality have been turned into attitudes of kindness, benevolence, and politeness by partaking of His amazing grace.  In the light of His love and mercy towards me, my prejudices were replaced by love, respect and appreciation for all my fellow men. I was made to realize that it was not the qualification of the applicant that mattered; but rather that the position qualifies the applicant.

I had never participated in a formal 12 Step program, But have come to realize that my journey from crack to Christ was verily a walk in those 12 steps.  It was in the midst of my addiction that I was introduced to Jesus Christ and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  I have been a baptized member of the Seventh-day Adventist church for seventeen years. I currently serve as Elder and Personal Ministries/Evangelism Coordinator at my local church in Macon, GA. In that capacity, I am in charge of a mission outreach to the inner city community. I am coordinating the Journey to Wholeness 12 step group at the Wimbush SDA Church in Macon, GA.           

 

Aubrey Duncan
 


FEATURED ARTICLE

A Sociologist Reflects on Addiction

When we think of addictions we often think at what Sociologists call the individual level. What personality issues or behavior problems are the cause of addictions and what needs to be done for the individual to facilitate the recovery process?

In Sociology we often think at what are called the Macro or Mezzo level. The Macro level refers to policies and practices at the general societal level that may impact the occurrence of or recovery from addictions. Tobacco is an excellent example of the impact of macro level policies. By 1970, tobacco was used by the majority of adults in the United States. Today this rate has been cut in half. While effective programs used by the American Cancer Society and the Seventh-day Adventist Church have contributed to this reduction, more of the reduction may be due to policy changes and changes in the general culture.

I can still remember as a young member of a National Institute of Health Grant Review Committee when a new Federal Regulation was instituted that prohibited smoking in federal government meetings. The Chair of the committee was a heavy smoker as was the federal government secretary of the committee. They ran the meeting at a conference hotel from the hallway so they would not be smoking in the room. It was their last meeting. Both resigned from the Committee rather than stop smoking. All other members chose to stop smoking to continue to serve the National Institutes of Health. I have seen policies in the U.S. move toward smoke free environments in the United State in all government offices as well as in so many public and private environments that the public visits. As a Child I remember, as an asthmatic, the trouble I had breathing at my beloved Chicago Cubs games and the haze that covered the field by the 5th inning. Now when I go for my annual game, the air remains clear and my breathing is easy not just because of individual decisions not to smoke but because of Policy that prohibited smoking in this public place. I was very pleased when my home state of Michigan went smoke free in 2010! Even economic policy has an impact on tobacco smoking. When states raise taxes, smoking decreases especially among youth. 

Access to insurance that provides access to addiction treatment also has a strong relationship with use of these services and recovery. Many states have passed types of parity laws that require insurance companies to cover mental health and addiction recovery. These polices have provided access to recovery for thousands of addicts. While we must be cautious about the use of law and policy, we must also recognize their role in prevention, cessation and recovery.

The mezzo level involves relationships. A wide variety of research shows that addiction is often prevented or caused by our relationships. One of the best predictors of the use of substances is the substance use of our family and friends. Usually we are introduced to alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs by our family and friends. Our relationships are also one of the best protections against addictions. Research consistently shows that those youth who have a close emotional bond with their parents, whose parents know their friends, and whose parents know about their  lives have a much lower rate of substance use than those who do not have these types of relationships with their parents.  

The frequency of family dinners is positively related to lower rates of substance abuse. It may be that at these dinners is where the emotional bonding, monitoring and communication occur. These family and peer relationships are also a crucial part of the recovery process. Recovery is much more difficult without strong family and peer group support.

Among the greatest protective relationships is our relationship with Christ. Strong sociological research shows that faith plays a major role in prevention and recovery. Special issues of major scholarly journals in the substance abuse field have focused on the role of spirituality in prevention and recovery. As Adventists we have known that for a long time and now such a view is advocated by the best researchers and therapists.

The prevention of and recovery from addictions is a very complex phenomenon. It takes every level of focus to be effective. We have to be ready to work at the policy level, at the relationship level and at the individual personality and behavioral level. We must be cautious on the use of policy but we need to be ready to advocate for policies that prevent addictions and aid in recovery.


Duane C. McBride PhD
Professor and Chair, Behavioral Sciences Department
Executive Director, Institute for Prevention of Addictions.


      

ARMin NEWS
NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION
Journey to Wholeness Training at the Health Summit
On March 16th and 17th the Journey to Wholeness training was held for over 40 individuals who wanted to begin Christ-centered 12 step meetings in their local churches and conferences.  The training encompassed the history of recovery in the church, the nature of addiction, the cycle of addiction, emotional healing from addiction, and forgiveness, in addition to training in the use of the Journey to Wholeness materials in conducting 12 step groups.

CHESAPEAKE CONFERENCE

Westminster SDA Church
The Westminster SDA Church held its 20th anniversary of the ARMin program which has been a pioneer among churches in NAD. Led by Dr Darcel Harris, the program has made a strong positive impact in the Westminster community over the years. The celebration included a packed church with many visitors who participated of the special worship service where Katia Reinert, NAD Health Ministries/ARMin director shared an inspirational message. The group also had a meal together and  the participation of the 3M musical group shared a beautiful concert in the afternoon. The afternoon also had a special program focusing on improving depression and social connections.

GEORGIA-CUMBERLAND CONFERENCE
Summerville SDA Church 

The Summerville SDA Church in Georgia sponsored an Awareness Sabbath on April 13, 2013 led by the Southern Union coordinator, Frank Sanchez.

MICHIGAN CONFERENCE
Berean SDA Church

The Better Living Center of the Berean SDA Church in South Bend, IN has started the ARMin Journey to Wholeness meetings.  The group meets every Sunday at 2:00 pm.     
     

DIRECTOR'S MESSAGE
  Unhooked Launched

The dream has become a reality by God’s grace! On April 7, Unhooked was officially launched and the first show aired at 9pm EST on Direct TV Hope channel 368. The first show highlighted an overview of addictions and its damaging effects. Keith shared his testimony and experts like Dr Mickey Ask shared important therapeutic strategies for recovery. 

The response was enthusiastic as reviewers wrote “Each addiction is approached from a scientific perspective and yet the content is kept practical, simple, and easy to understand.” (Rev. Robert Crutchfield from Compassion Church of Katy (faithinspires.wordpress.com).

Previous episodes can be watched at www.hopetv.org/unhooked and you can find details about the program and schedule both at this site and at www.adventistrecovery.org 

Unhooked airs on Hope Channel at the following times:

•    A new episode airs each Sunday. 
•    HOPE specifically included a few late night airings for the night owls.
Sundays at 9:00 pm ET
Mondays at 12:00 am ET
Mondays at 2:30 pm ET
Tuesdays at 2:00 am ET
Tuesdays at 6:30 pm ET
Thursdays at 3:30 am ET
Fridays at 7:30 am ET
Saturdays at 11:30 pm ET

Stay tuned for when the DVDs will be available for show in your church. In the meantime, please pray for the show, the people who are calling in with a desire to be free, and also for the many groups who may be embracing some of the community members in need of a warm loving church community.

Prayerfully.


Katia Reinert, PhDc, CRNP, FCN
Adventistrecovery@nad.adventist.org
Health / ARMin Director
North American Division