My personal One Word for 2014: Blessing
This past week I spent time training for my position of employment that involves working for an agency that provides services for people facing barriers in meeting their needs for survival. I enjoy working in positions where I get to serve and assist people who are in need of a variety of resources for living. A large number of the patrons who rely on this agency have substance abuse issues.
Addictions create a number of problems for people wanting to maintain consistent employment, attend training programs, or find permanent accommodation. Opposite of this are the many people with additions who are able to maintain their employment and provide for their own cost of living.
I wish I had the answer to poverty and addictions, but I don’t. If there is anyone out there that has a solution for ending these two problems for humanity once and for all, please let every level of government in North America know your secret. I would love to sing along with Andre Crouch and say, “Jesus is the answer for all the world today…”, but it doesn’t quite work that way. I would never force my religious beliefs on anyone, especially those who are most in need and marginalized within our society.
Addressing substance abuse without contradicting my spiritual beliefs can sometimes be a challenge. I have been asked a number of times why I would work within a Harm Reduction facility as a Christian and to this question, I say, ‘I’m not offering people illegal substances and I’m not pouring alcohol or Listerine down people’s throats.’ There are no contradictions with my beliefs in the job duties that I perform.
When addressing addictions, our provincial government promotes and practices what they refer to as Harm Reduction.
What is Harm Reduction?
“Harm Reduction refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to reduce the negative health, social and economic consequences that may ensue from the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs, without necessarily reducing drug use. Its cornerstones are public health, human rights and social justice. It benefits people who use drugs, families and communities.
Harm Reduction is underpinned with the knowledge that many drug-related problems are not the result of the drugs themselves; rather they are the consequences of the unregulated manufacture and trade of drugs and the enduring commitment to failed policies and ill-thought-out and inequitably applied laws.
Finally, Harm Reduction ensures that people who use psychoactive substances are treated with respect and without stigma, and that substance-related problems and issues are addressed systemically.” (Source: http://canadianharmreduction.com)
I don’t support illegal drug use and I don’t support the misuse of prescription drugs.
I can’t speak for other cities across North America, but our province has made note of many positive outcomes resulting from the use of the harm reduction model. I am happy to hear there are positive outcomes for those using a Harm Reduction approach, but I will say this; as believers we must have faith that we can overcome any addiction that we have.
An addiction is an addiction. I won’t get into any discussion about which substances are more difficult to withdraw from. The most important point that I want to make is that it doesn’t matter what the substance is, we have been given the strength and the power to overcome any addiction that has held us in bondage. Until there is scientific evidence that clearly shows that there are human beings who are incapable of ending their addictions, I will continue to believe what I believe.
I won’t say that one method works better than another method because I believe that people with addictions have a variety of factors that will influence the type of treatment method that is best for them. What has been a life saver for one person might not be a suitable or realistic option for another person.
Judging those with addictions does not help them recover, it only makes their recovery a more difficult process. I’m not here to judge or offer the ultimate solution to everyone’s problems, but I do want to let people who are struggling to be free of their addiction know: yes, you can overcome your addiction! It is not a onetime event, instead, it is one day at a time. For those who are believers, don’t forget what Jesus asked “Do you wish to get well? (John 5: 6).” Jesus reminded us who He came to earth to serve, “… Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ (Mark 2:17)” We are all in need of the great physician.
Jesus was a healer, God is still a healer. Folks, we CAN be healed of any addiction, but you must believe you can be free. It is the belief in your freedom that will help you to: attend medical appointments, maintain participation in whatever treatment you choose, face the pain that had driven you to addiction, and it is your belief in your ability to be healed that will keep you returning to God day after day in asking Him to be with you during your life long process of healing.
God doesn’t judge you where you are at, He loves you where you are at.
God’s love is powerful enough to transform us; it is not a type of love that meets you where you are and then leaves you there. No one who has accepted God’s offer of healing has ever been left the same. Never. Isn’t that exciting? Thank you LORD, your love has healing power.
I will continue to work in an environment that supports and practices a Harm Reduction model, but I will never believe that any human being on this planet is not able to overcome their addiction. I will be there for them and help them as best as I am able to at whatever pace they are going at; and do so in a way that places no blame and judgement on them or their circumstances. For those who do not believe they can ever overcome their own addictions, please know that I believe you can, and most importantly there is a God who knows that you can be healed. He knows this because He is the healer.
For more information on the topic of addictions recovery, please read below.
Public Policy Statement: Definition of Addiction (http://www.asam.org/for-the-public/definition-of-addiction)
Short Definition of Addiction:
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death. (Source: American Society for Addiction Medicine)
Life’s Healing Choices – From Saddleback Church
National Association for Christian Recovery
Resource site with links to a variety of programs and information