We are in the midst of a crisis that I believe is impacting every single American. The number one cause of death for people under the age of 50 is overdose. We are losing an entire generation. We believe that  can be a part of changing that. 

With Recovery Church Movement I do a significant amount of traveling. I hate flying, I don’t like heights, I’m a bit of a germaphobe and being in a little tube flying through the air, filled with people, just isn’t a peaceful experience for me. Also being a pastor, and in particular, a pastor working with addicts and alcoholics, it’s almost always an awkward conversation when those next to you ask the “what do you do?” question. But almost, without fail, God shows up during these journeys. 

So, on this particular flight, I was attempting to escape a bit from the chaos around addiction. I decided to see what inflight movies were available. A movie entitled “Ben is Back” popped up on the queue. I didn’t read the description, just recognized Julia Roberts as the lead, and hit play.

As I watched this story unfold, I was moved. I mean full on, snot dripping, tears falling, straight up weeping (I’m sure the people near me thought what is wrong with this “pastor” and were praying to God “why did he have to sit next to me?”). I know that might not sound like the best appeal or recommendation for a film. But this movie did the best job I have seen at showing the tension of love and insanity, the cunning and baffling nature of addiction in our nation. A simple story of 24 hours in one family’s fight to survive. The plot follows a mother who tries to help her addict son after he returns home “unexpectedly” from rehab. (FYI, anyone returning home “unexpectedly” from rehab isn’t doing so well that they released them early – no matter what they tell you happened, this isn’t a good thing).

As I watched Ben you could feel the tension of his desire to stay sober, yet the insanity and deep call addiction had on him was palatable. As he stares through the window of his family home, testing door handles, was he going to steal from his family to get high or be sober today? The complexity of the web that addiction weaves in the life of many addicts and their families was apparent. The movie made it so clear that “just stop it” isn’t so easy. The pain, the anger land love of his family. His mother’s deep love for her child and her codependency were being held in brutal tension. Was she loving him back to life and recovery, or enabling him to stay sick or even die? Maybe a bit of both.

Allowing addicts and alcoholics to feel the pain and consequences associated with addiction is truly key to recovery. You might have heard statements like “don’t rob them of their dumpster therapy”. The art of walking through this journey with those in early recovery is not so simple. Fentanyl, carfetanyl etc., has changed the game. Helping those we love is more of an art form than a simple equation. Most of us need to learn the lessons associated with enabling. We can love those struggling with addiction to death. Get help yourself. (Yes, you get help). Telling the addict or alcoholic to simply “stop it”, hasn’t worked for you, and it won’t. Their best hope is for you to get the support and help you need. Start talking about it, no more secrets. Secrets will keep you and your family sick. Work your own program (work through the 12-steps of CODA, Al-anon, etc.). Seek professional counseling. Yes, you get counseling – I know you’re not the addict, but this is life and death and worth the commitment. Learn how to set healthy boundaries. Start reading books like Boundaries, and Codependent No More (get the workbooks and do the work), get a recovery devotional like the one I co-authored Be Strong and Surrender. Pray, Pray, Pray and ask your church family to pray (none of those unspoken requests – Speak the truth of your struggle and break the stigma and shame – it will help you and give others the courage to do the same). But after all that, fight. If they still have breath in their lungs there still is hope. Get an RX for Naloxone a.k.a Narcan and learn how to administer it. Naloxone is a medication that will rapidly reverse the effect of an opiate overdose, possibly giving the person another chance to find God and Recovery. Then join the fight, educate yourself on the politics related to this issue (from healthcare, to our ports and yes, even the border) it all plays a role. Then advocate, call your representatives and demand action. Finally, partner with ministries like Recovery Church Movement that are trying to fight on the front lines of this epidemic. Help us share God’s grace and recovery with those struggling with addiction. We’d love to have you partner with us in this fight.

Your Brother In Christ,

Pastor Philip Dvorak
www.Recovery.Church
561.972.4142

 

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