What’s the Problem?

What’s the Problem?

Immediately a man out of the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs and no one could restrain him anymore, even with a chain….The chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces; no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. – Mark 5

• Addiction is a disease.
• It is a primary illness, not caused by some outside circumstance. It is progressive, incurable and fatal.
• Addiction is a problem of brain-chemistry; it is a medical issue, not a moral problem.
• Because of it, alcoholics and addicts have lost the power of choice in the matter. Addiction is a progressive, fatal, incurable disease characterized by compulsive use, loss of control over use, and continued use despite negative consequences.
• Some addicts suffer from “process addictions”. These people are “getting high” from certain behaviors. Sex, binging and purging, restricting, gambling, spending – all of these behaviors can become addictions
• A person suffering from this disease is not a bad person who needs to learn how to be good, but an ill person who needs to learn how to be well.
• Addiction is a physical, mental, emotional illness that yields most surely to a spiritual remedy.

What’s That Got To Do With Us?

Jesus asked, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him Mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” – Luke 10

• Alcoholism afflicts approximately one adult out of ten people sitting in your pews.
• The greatest cause of death among young people is traffic accidents; half are alcohol related.
• Alcohol is a factor in nearly one half of homicides. The average reduction in life span of a person who dies of alcohol related causes is 26 years.
• Alcohol plays a part in at least one out of every three failed marriages.
• 25-40% of general hospital admissions are for alcoholism and related causes.
• Some 18 million people in the US need alcohol treatment, less than one-fourth will get it.
• Alcohol abuse costs the nation untold millions.
• Alcoholism kills about 100,000 people each year
• Between the years 2001 and 2005, the number of Americans between the age of 50 and 59 who were using illegal drugs rose from 2.5 percent to 4.7 percent.
• Over six million children in America live with at least one parent who has a drug addiction.
• Since 1980, the number of deaths related to drug overdoses has risen over 540 percent.
• The most commonly abused drug (other than alcohol) in the United States by individuals over the age of 12 is Marijuana, followed by prescription painkillers and over the counter medications.
• Addiction can affect persons of any age, gender, economic status, race or religion; it affects the people in your pews.

What Can We Do?

Which of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one until it is found? – Luke 19

• Alcoholism and addiction are recognizable by those who are adequately informed. The clergy are uniquely related to the delivery of appropriate care to the specific needs of those who are stricken because the clergy are sent to search out the sick and needy and to minister to them.
• The nature of the disease of addiction is such that those who are its victims are incapable of recognizing the severity of their symptoms.
• Clergy and laity alike must learn enough about what the disease looks like, how it manifests, and what its impacts are, so that an effective pastoral response can be made and meaningful support offered.
• Get acquainted with recovering people in your parish; find out what Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other Twelve Step programs are; know about treatment facilities in your community; locate resources.
• Encourage an informed congregation. Start a Recovery Ministries Commission
• Read the book Alcoholics Anonymous. AAs call it the “Big Book”, the Narcotics Anonymous “Basic Text”, Courage to Change from Al-Anon or any number of other texts on the subject. Include them in your church library.

Support Recovery

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. – Luke 19

• Visit an Open 12 Step meeting.
• Read “Helping Hands for the Addicted – A Renewed Call to Action”.
• Plan a “Recovery Sunday Celebration” every year.
• Schedule recovery events such as talks in your education program by recovering people.
• Insure that clergy are knowledgeable about alcoholism and substance abuse, symptoms, intervention, and treatment. This includes knowledge about the increasing problem of prescription drug/pain killer addiction.
• Plan and implement an educational effort in your parish so that every person knows some basic facts about alcoholism and addiction and its terrible cost to affected individuals, families, the Church and society.
• Make sure everyone knows this is a disease, not a moral failing.

Do This

Be merciful even as your Father in heaven is merciful. – Luke 6: 35-37

• Enlist one person in your parish to act as the Recovery Coordinator to stay in touch with Recovery Ministries, to be the point to which information about publications, programs, seminars, retreats, and recommendations can be gathered, and who will disseminate that to parishioners.
• You and your parish become an active, participating member of Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church.
• Adopt a Parish Policy on the use of alcohol at church events.
• Schedule recovery events such as talks in your education program by recovering people.
• Get acquainted with recovering persons/groups in your parish and use them as resources for more understanding.
• Make space available in your buildings for recovery groups to meet. (See our pamphlet “Hosting a Twelve-Step Meeting in Your Church”).

Recovery Sunday… What Is It?

Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ…… – 1 Peter

• Recovery Sunday is a celebration of the deliverance by God’s grace of persons who have been imprisoned by a punishing and bewildering illness.
• Such celebration can include worship built around a “Twelve Step” Eucharist, a talk by a recovering person, or a sermon about God’s grace as offered and seen in recreated lives of recovering people. It may include distribution of educational pamphlets about alcoholism and other addictions, and information about what this parish does to support recovery, where help is available, and who to contact.
• Some parishes arrange for a special “open” AA, Al-Anon or other 12 step meeting during the day, and Sunday school classes about the issue.

How To Do It

“Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, the maimed, and the blind and the lame.” – Luke 6: 35-37

• Decide what Sunday this year will work for your parish’s calendar. Set that day aside to Celebrate the inexplicable grace that empowers recovery.
• Locate a member of Recovery Ministries or a recovering person who is willing to help. You can find someone with help from your Diocesan Recovery Ministry or from local AA or other 12-step groups.
• Design your services around a 12-Step Eucharist and Recovery speaker.
• Arrange for that speaker, or another, to talk to an adult class, or visit with a youth group later in the day.
• Do advance publicity about the events you will have.
• Call for literature from Recovery Ministries or visit the website for links and ideas.

Hope For Today!

So if the son makes you free, you are free indeed. – John 8:36

The cost of this disease to our society and our Church, is monumental. It breaks the hearts of those who love the one who is addicted. It wounds the Body of Christ.

The people who suffer this illness eventually run out of hope.
They have no way to continue life.
No way to live.
You know someone who suffers from it.
We all do.
God’s boundless mercy offers them the hope of new life.
When accepted, it’s a miracle!
Every alcoholic and addicted person who has taken God’s offered hand and worked a recovery program is a miracle, one who is re-created.
Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan for us.
Help your wounded brother or sister today.

We believe that the Church as a redemptive fellowship of Christian believers, must exercise a healing ministry to the problem drinker or other drug abusers and to members of his or her family.