Summary: This series focuses on the 12-step program for recovery as adapted from the Alcoholics Anonymous program. This sermons gives an overview and discusses the first step.
Twelve Steps To Recovery Part 1
As we begin a new year, I am led to do this series on the “Twelve Steps to Recovery” based on the twelve step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. I will not present the entire series over twelve straight weeks as I want to ensure that I give it due diligence. As we embark on this series, I only ask that you, in your own study time, study this with me. This subject matter came to me as I was reflecting on how many New Years resolutions I have made that never were fully realized. I also thought about those things that many of us have tried to walk away from but continue to find ourselves still doing. It brought to mind what Paul said in Romans 7:15 which say “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Have you ever felt like that, that you were doing something you know to be wrong but could not find the power to break yourself from it? It was frustrating to Paul also as he stated in verse 24 of the same chapter Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” In the last verse of this chapter, Paul answers his own question, Jesus Christ. All of us have things that are a part of our lives that shouldn’t be. Although we have tried to rid ourselves from them, they continue to plague us. This is our year for freedom, our year of recovery!
Sometimes we are powerless because of our station in life. We may be in a situation where other people have power over us. We may feel that we are trapped by the demands of others and that there’s no way to please them all. Sometimes we feel stuck and frustrated with our relationships and we look for a measure of control by escaping through our addictive behaviors. These behaviors are not always linked to alcohol or other substances that individuals become addictive to, but often times are certain behaviors and sinful activities that we are prone to do because it gives us some level of fulfillment and excitement and escape from our everyday lives. Please understand, if you think that this message is not for you because you are not addictive to alcohol or drugs, then you are mistaken. Addictive behaviors comes in many forms and packages and they can all put us into slavery where we are no longer free to walk in what God has given us.
By definition, addictive behavior is any activity, substance, object, or behavior that has become the major focus of a person’s life to the exclusion of other activities, or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally, or socially. A person can become addicted, dependent, or compulsively obsessed with anything and therefore addiction is not limited to just alcohol or other substances. Some researchers imply that there are similarities between physical addiction to various chemicals, such as alcohol and heroin, and psychological dependence to activities such as compulsive gambling, sex, work, running, shopping, or eating disorders.
I am not a psychologist but in my reading I found that there is a link between compulsive behaviors and addiction. Compulsive behaviors are often repetitive and seemingly purposeful and are often performed in a ritualistic manner or in certain situations that a person faces. These behaviors may involve sex, food, caffeine, nicotine, gambling, spending, TV watching, Internet surfing, reading, cleaning, washing, drugs or alcohol. The key point is that the activity is not connected to the purpose it appears to be directed to – something else is driving the behavior other than the need for the activity in and of itself. For example, a person who is afraid of bonding with a partner may choose to zone out in front of the TV every evening, or a person who has never experienced enough love filling up on a gallon of ice cream. It is thought that these behavior activities may produce chemicals (beta-endorphins) in the brain which makes the person feel "high." Some experts suggest that if a person continues to engage in the activity to achieve this feeling of well-being and euphoria, he/she may get into an addictive cycle. In so doing, he/she becomes physically addicted to his/her own brain chemicals, thus leading to continuation of the behavior even though it may have negative health or social consequences. Addiction differs from compulsion in that it will inevitably escalate. As it escalates, a web of deceit, cover-ups, and detachment will follow depending on the situation. Harmful consequences can be external, such as a loss of a job or internal as in detachment, depression, lack of ability to feel or concentrate. There may also be physical consequences such as illness, hypertension and memory loss.