For those enslaved to drugs and alcohol, the local church is the answer. Once a drug-addicted person is detoxed from their drug of choice, the body of Christ offers the best means of support and transformation available. If your church does not have the resources to host big group “addiction” meetings but you would like to start a “program,” here is what I recommend you utilize from the resources the Lord has enabled me to produce by His grace:
1. Help for the family in two resources:
- Divine Intervention: Hope and Help for Families of Addicts
- Addiction-Proof Parenting: Biblical Prevention Strategies
In almost every case, it is a family member or loved one seeking help for an addict by making the initial phone call. Churches have an opportunity to help the families of addicts and my desire is to assist you in doing so with two resources I’ve published. For those whose loved one is already in the throes of addiction, I recommend that they read Divine Intervention first. It provides understanding about how the addict is thinking and how to intervene biblically. It was honestly a difficult book for me to write because it promotes a “tough love approach” but these faith steps are so necessary for the addict to change (see Luke 15:16). The ultimate message encourages family members in this way: “Trust God, who loves the addict more than you do,” and “Do what you can, never giving up on God’s ability to intervene.” A model letter in the appendix assists loved ones in writing their own “Divine Intervention” letter.
Addiction-Proof Parenting is a biblically based prevention strategy book for parents, but it serves as a good picture of what not to do and what to do in communicating with an addicted loved one. It sheds light on the addicted mindset and helps family members learn how to respond in a way that glorifies God. Though it is geared toward young families, the book also speaks to those whose children are grown and have become enslaved to an addiction.
2. Help for the “addict”:
- Relapse: Biblical Prevention Strategies
I recommend that a church establish a daily structure of meetings and accountability calls for the “addict,” where he or she must “check in” daily with someone in the faith family. In our program, we have daily disciple-making meetings (which are set up in a 2 counselors to one counselee ratio) and classes for them to attend in addition to church services on Wednesdays and Sundays. We first assign the reading and completion of the workbook style book Relapse: Biblical Prevention Strategies because it focuses first upon knowing God (John 17:3). Because of its format, Relapse can be utilized as a disciple-making tool both individually and in small groups. The counselee learns insights into his or her patterns of habitual thinking, and these are the same mentalities addressed in Addiction-Proof Parenting, so it would be advantageous for a disciple-maker or counselor to get the APP book to explore the mentalities in more depth.
3. Daily Emphasis:
- Cross Talking: A Daily Gospel for Transforming Addicts
At the onset of counseling, I want the addict to have a daily reinforcement of the biblical truths about what the world labels as an “addiction.” We assign the counselee to daily read the 45 day devotional Cross Talking: A Daily Gospel for Transforming Addicts for 90 days, which enables them to go through the entire book two times. The daily devotionals start their day off with an easy to understand, clear teaching of the Bible applied to their hearts and helps keep their minds on the power of the Gospel of Christ and His forgiveness of sins.
4. More Help for the Addict:
- The Heart of Addiction
- The Heart of Addiction Workbook
After they finish Relapse (hopefully in the first 30 days), I assign The Heart of Addiction and its companion Workbook. The counselee has now begun to learn about God and how their thinking must change into Christ-likeness. The Heart of Addiction is divided into the four elements outlined in 2 Timothy 3:16 and many of those who have read it have said to me: “I had no idea the Bible had so much to say about addiction!” The Workbook is a tool that encourages the counselee to garner more people resource support, participation in a local church, and to be open about how they are “really” doing with their struggles, while gaining wisdom by learning the Bible. It is a great personal disciple-making tool for biblical counselors to assess the progress of the counselees they are serving.
5. A Sunday School Class or Small Group Tool:
- The Leader’s Guide to The Heart of Addiction (expected publication date: late November 2012)
One church in our area started a Sunday school class called “The Heart of Addiction” using the book and workbook. Their goal is to incorporate those who are attending their Celebrate Recovery meetings on Friday nights into the local church body. My wife and I wrote the Leader’s Guide to assist anyone wanting to teach the biblical principles in this book in a group setting. The Leader’s Guide is very easy to use as it tells the leader to “SAY” this, “ASK” this, “LISTEN” for this, etc. It is very user-friendly and lays out the entire class for the leader to teach. The answers to the content questions in The Heart of Addiction Workbook are in an appendix and there are some fun interactive teaching activities for youths and adults alike. I am excited about this new book because again it helps the local church to minister to addicts!
6. Applying Truth to Specific Issues: The Hope and Help Booklet Series
In all of my books, I seek to demonstrate the goal of transformation (Romans 12:2) rather than simply recovery because the eternal goal is Christ-likeness. The relevancy and sufficiency of God’s Word is the goal in each of the seven Hope and Help booklets. Some specific topics include Hope and Help for…
- …Videogame, TV, and Internet “Addiction” (note: Dr. Jay Adams reviewed and recommended this booklet)
- …Self-injurers and Cutters (note: Jay Younts personally endorsed this booklet)
- …Sexual Temptation (just released: a good place to start the counseling relationship when dealing with sexual sin and its temptations)
Having them interact with these booklets and implement the truths contained in them in a practical manner in their everyday lives encourages personal spiritual growth that occurs on their own time, not necessarily in the “counseling office.” The addicts who read them usually respond that they “connected” with the applied truths and my goal is for them to implement practical strategies based upon the Word of God into their everyday lives.
I do not want biblical counselors to be intimidated by the problems associated with addictions. After the physical problems of withdrawal and tolerance are addressed by a physician (which can only mean a few days most of the time), the local church is the answer in terms of support and spiritual growth. The Gospel is the answer and our goal is “to connect the Gospel to addiction and addiction counseling to the local church.” We started a new initiative with this goal in mind at www.theaddictionconnection.com to promote, connect, and encourage counselors, programs, and churches who are striving to be biblical in their approach to addiction. Join us today. Contact us so we can connect the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you on that website to encourage others to seek His help through you. We want to provide a list of biblical counselors, programs, and churches all over the world who are reaching addicts of all types with a genuinely biblical approach to addiction.
-Mark (praising God that counselors, programs, & churches are beginning to help addicts more and more with biblical truth!)