2014, Issue 3 - May/June

Willing to Go to Any Lengths

Is the addict “willing to go to any lengths” to obtain their drug of choice? The answer is, “Yes,” for alcoholics, heroin and cocaine addicts, smokers, and millions of others whose “drug of choice” may be different. Is the person who is obsessed with getting their next ‘high’ from gambling, pornographic pictures, shopping trips just as “willing to go to any lengths?

“Whatever it takes” to escape reality and find some relief from the pain of life on life’s terms is too often the motivation that drives people to do what they do.

The news story headlining the media for weeks, which may for months and even years to come, is the mystery concerning the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines, Flight 370. Many government and non-governmental agencies have spent untold hours seeking for clues concerning this recent tragedy. Frustrated family members of the passengers and crew ask questions without satisfactory answers. How many of the people directly involved with the activity surrounding this event are obsessively and compulsively harming themselves and others by the way they are reacting? Is their feverish activity driven by self-interest? Are they just trying to preserve their reputation and/or gain notoriety? Another question is: How many people are “news junkies” who are “going to any lengths” to get the latest bit of news? They keep checking television, radio, internet and other media to get the latest report (their drug of choice). Somehow, they think “being in the know” will enhance their popularity.

“The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven; while pride, selfishness, and covetousness too often go un-rebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God. …” Steps to Christ, 30. Freedom from harmful habits (sins - whatever they may be) and thinking (whatever form it may take) comes only as people submit to Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ own words we have the following wonderful promise: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:35, N.I.V.
As you read this month’s story of recovery, resolve to live each day with Jesus who is able to provide new life to your journey.

Ray Nelson, MDiv, MSPH

12 STEPS to Recovery —  STEP #2
Who or what is the “power greater than ourselves” that can “restore us to sanity?” Many people in recovery find difficulty in deciding. Their experience with “powers” such as parents, spouses, church representatives and others who are addicted to power and control led them to distrust all powers greater than themselves. These “powers” weren’t safe. They were abusive. Their abuse took many forms. Whether the abuse was physical, verbal, sexual, financial, emotional, spiritual or neglect, it was all hurtful and harmful. As a result, a person’s ability to trust others, including God is limited or not possible.

This is a primary reason why those in recovery think of their group whether Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, etc, as their “higher power.” They find true love and acceptance in the group such as they have never known.

A “power greater than ourselves” is able to withstand the power of our adversary who seeks to undermine our character.

The body is the only medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding of character. Hence it is that the adversary of souls directs his temptations to the enfeebling and degrading of the physical powers. His success here means the surrender to evil of the whole being. The tendencies of our physical nature, unless under the dominion of a higher power, will surely work ruin and death. Ministry of Healing, p. 130.

In reality, the God of heaven and earth who created us is the only 100% safe Higher Power. His love and acceptance is unconditional. He always has our best interest in mind. John clearly states that “God is love (agape)” 1 John 4:8. God’s very nature is to love with this never failing kind of love (see 1 Corinthians 13).

We don’t need to fear or be dismayed (disheartened) because God will strengthen (empower) and help with the strength of an outstretched hand of love and mercy (see Isaiah 41:10).      
[The Editor]



This is a story that demonstrates how God works through us as we practice the biblical principles of recovery. The result is that folks find “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13).

In my recovery program I try to work with other folks (step 12) in order to help them with their recovery and as way for me to have a closer walk with the Lord.

One such individual I have been working with as a sponsor is CF. We meet 2 evenings a week to study the 12 steps of recovery and how they apply to our everyday life, not just to staying away from a drink or drug. You see CF and I are recovering alcoholics helping each other. CF is 2 years sober and my recovery has been for 25 years (one day at a time by the Grace of God). We use the Serenity Bible to determine scripture associated with each of the steps and apply them to our life. We use the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions book as well as the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) in our study.

I gave CF Steps to Christ a few months back and showed him how the chapters corresponded to the steps and were great to see how Christ used these biblical principles during His ministry. How the book references scripture to validate what is written. I asked him to read it and see if it helped with his recovery program.

I left the area for a while and didn’t see CF during that time. I returned to the area and we set up our schedule to meet and study. He was so excited to share with me what he had found reading the Steps to Christ book I left with him. He took the book out and I saw he had yellow, green and red magic marker all over the pages, page markers and paper clips throughout. It took all I had to hold back tears of joy in seeing a spiritual awakening in front of my eyes.

He explained how what he saw in the “Consecration” chapter leads him to want to consecrate his will (“the power of choice”) as he begins each day reading Steps to Christ and the Serenity Bible.

His character has shown great improvement and Jesus through His Holy Spirit is now in charge in CFs walk in recovery and sanctification. “Praise God” for doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He gives us direction on how to lift Jesus up so people will follow Him.  



Addressing Addiction Myths (Part 4 of 6)

Myth #11: The Devil’s Way is the Way of “Freedom”
The devil has been using freedom as a lure for quite a long time. In the Garden of Eden, he told Eve she would be “like a god” if she ate the forbid- den fruit. He also implied that the injunction about eating the fruit was restrictive, and that she would escape (e.g. be free) from the consequences of disobedience.
He is still up to his old tricks today, trying to “bind us” with the cords of addiction. He tempts us to exert our freedom of choice by getting involved with behaviors and/or substances that seem very pleasant at first glance.

“Be free!” is his message to the world. “Your parents may have told you not to do this, other people may have warned you, and you may even know that it’s bad—but you’re free!”

When we exercise our freedom and partake, however, we soon find ourselves wrapped up in addictions. As it turns out, the devil’s way is not about freedom at all, it’s about abject bondage. You’re not “free” to quit even if you want to, because you’re addicted. That is exactly what’s happening with 98% of the smokers. They are bound. They want to quit, but they are bound up with cords of steel.

Many people think it is God who limits our choices, but the devil is re- ally the culprit in this whole affair.

Myth #12: “Although most people can live successfully without addiction, I am an exception to that rule.”
An addict cannot truly break free from addiction until they choose to truly and honestly stand in front of their life experience and say, “My way has not worked. It is not working. I want to change and heal.”

Though it’s easy to stay mired in addiction by believing that happiness can never be yours, you do have a choice. There are rules for healthy living, which, if followed, will greatly increase your chance for a healthy and happy life. You are not an exception to those rules, and, if put into practice, they will work for you.

As many addicts are quick to point out, there can actually be some positive benefits to an addiction (such as “mood stabilization”). Addictions are really a form of self-medication, providing what seems like a beautiful refuge from the ravages of life. They may even solve a problem. When the addiction is fed, the lethargic leap into life, the anxious sink into slumber, the forgetful remember the answers to exam questions, and the “insignificant” swell with importance. Pain, stress, and/or insecurity vanish, while individuals who felt life was treating them poorly, now feel rewarded.

For the reasons above, many find it difficult to discontinue their addictive behavior.

“You’re just looking at the dark side,” they complain. “You’ve never tried my addiction, so you can’t understand how sweet it is.” Unfortunately, the up-side of addictions is only half of the story. On the flip side of the “beautiful refuge” lives a dirty, ugly, and incredibly hurtful monster. We must rip the mask off this monster—and see it for what it truly is—if we hope to halt our addictive behavior.

We can start this process by educating ourselves about the social, health- related, spiritual and financial consequences of our chosen addiction(s)— which are made all the more dire by the powerful grip that destructive habits develop. As a rule, it takes ten years to truly break an addiction. The addict may be clean for some time and feel they are doing very well. But the monster is just around the corner, ready to roar back if given just half a chance.   

AWhile the natural reaction is to fight such a monster head-on, the most effective strategy is not so direct. When we concentrate on the “monster”, repeating (as is taught in Alcoholics Anonymous) “I am an addict” over and over again, we are focusing on the negative.

While AA has helped many people, the best strategy in fighting addiction is focusing on the little things—the things that will make us strong. We must recognize that we are fighting a dreadful monster, but we must also avoid focusing on that monster. That’s what David did when he killed Goliath. David was focused on the power of God, picking five smooth pebbles from a stream, loading them carefully into his sling, and aiming at the giant’s forehead. It wasn’t until the giant was fallen that David grabbed Goliath’s own sword and focused on the giant himself (1 Samuel 17:48-51. KJV)

Looking Goliath straight in the eye may scare you right out of the valley. But if you focus on the power of God, fighting the little battles that come, you will be on the road to victory.

Since many of these “little battles” are in the mind, begin your fight against addiction by considering why you “do it”. Is it because you are afraid, anxious, insecure, forgetful, or burdened by pain? Are you seeking higher grades, an energy boost, a sense of importance or fulfillment? You cannot fight the addiction unless you identify and find another way to fulfill the desires that drive the addiction.

Once you have fingered the forces behind your addiction(s), it’s time to determine when you are vulnerable. Are you most likely to smoke, drink, or do drugs when you go out with certain friends? Do you often find yourself overeating in a restaurant after a stressful day at the office? When are you most apt to be a shopaholic, alcoholic, workaholic, movieholic, or whatever your downfall is? Identifying the times you are most vulnerable will help you to set-up barriers to protect you during those times.
When an addict slides into relapse, the first thing to go is their will- power. In a moment of temptation, their backbone (and resolve) melt into oblivion, leaving them feeling like a spineless jellyfish.

You can avoid the unfortunate trial of relapse by putting yourself in the best situation to win the battles you face.    
By Neil Nedley M.D.                   


LAKE UNION - Michigan Conference
Addiction Recovery Sermon series- Pastor Dwight Nelson, from Pioneer Memorial Church located at Andrews University in Barrien Springs, Michigan, started “The Bondage Breaker” sermon series on addiction and recovery on March 29, 2014.  The web access to the sermons is available at www.pmchurch.tv, including previous sermons.

Journey to Wholeness Sabbath School class began meeting at Pioneer Memorial Church on April 5, 2014, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. in the Andrews University Seminary. Room N-110. All are welcome to attend.

*Several requests have come to our ARMin office in regards to online 12-STEP Journey to Wholeness (JTW) meetings. We are planning to establish this and if you would like to volunteer as an online facilitator, please send us your bio via the email below. We are looking for someone with expertize in technology and 12-step meeting using the JTW resource.

*Recovery related news, pictures (protect anonymity of individuals in meetings) and upcoming recovery and awareness events are needed for future newsletters.  

Please email:
Ray Nelson, Journey to Life Editor – adventistrecovery@gmail.com
Dr Katia Reinert, ARMin Director – recovery@nad.adventist.org

Prevention and Recovery
The months of May and June bring some timely opportunities for ARMin groups to engage in health promotion as well as in recovery activities that may touch the lives of church members and the community, going beyond the weekly 12-step meetings.

May is Mental Health Awareness month and May 31 is World NO Tobacco Day around the world - an initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization to reduce the use of Tobacco and raise awareness of its harms (see #worldNoTobaccoDay). Tobacco is the number 2 cause of preventable death in the US - even though progress has been made. In addition, June 26 is International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, sponsored by the United Nations (see resources session for websites to access more information).

Faith Communities have played a key role in the reduction of the prevalence of smokers, but with e-cigarettes on the rise, young kids seem to be still increasingly at risk. The Adventist church continues to have a key role to play both in recovery, as well as in prevention. This year the WHO is urging governments to increase taxes on tobacco and the Adventist church has been a key collaborative partner in this effort. (see the Adventist News Network article discussing this partnership at http://news.adventist.org) We must continue to be engaged both in recovery as well as in advocacy and prevention.  

History tells us that Ellen G. White, a pioneer of the temperance movement in the Adventist church, was strongly committed to this effort and urged Adventists to vote for policies that would reduce access or prohibit alcohol, tobacco and other drugs (such as Marijuana today). She was reported to have said, “’…and perhaps I shall shock some of you if I say, If necessary, vote on the Sabbath Day for prohibition if you cannot at any other time.’” Arthur L. White, Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years, 1876-­1891, vol.3,p.161.

Let us do our part to continue to engage in recovery and prevention efforts. Check out www.factswithHope.org for a 1 min video that can be used in your church or shared in your facebook page, twitter account or youtube to bring awareness about what faith-communities can do. Join us in this effort. You can make a difference. May God use your experience of recovery and your talents to share a message for a full life in Christ, helping others say NO to anything that is harmful to body, mind and soul and YES to habits linked to full life.    

Katia Reinert, PhD, CRNP, FCN
Health / ARMin Director
North American Division