Summary: Because of grace, Jesus took our place.
Breaking Our Addictions
Rev. Brian Bill
Steve Salvator Interview
Is it really possible to be free from addictions? Steve’s story shows how Jesus became His bondage breaker. I submit to you this morning that the best way to break free is by putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
While I’m no addiction expert, I’ve been involved with enough people to know that those who struggle in this area would give anything to be free. Almost two years ago I did a funeral for a man who died of an overdose. He was a song writer. Listen to some of the words from “Devil’s Dust”: “I write this down in detox all alone, what else is there to do…I didn’t ask to be this way I should have known, I should of stuck with just getting stoned…Cause it’s the devil’s dust don’t ever trust. The devil’s dust that mest me up…”
In another song, he wrote: “…It’s never enough. Whether shootin up, or snortin the stuff, and I try to stay clean, know what I mean…I used to be straight solid-steady staring at the top, I fell off once and it was a constant drop. I never wanted it to be this way, but I tried one time and couldn’t get that feeling to stay. After the first OD you’d think I’d sing a different tune. But I kept on bangin, slangin, cookin, hanging myself out to dry, always got to be chasing the ultimate high…Been high for four years straight, and only have myself to hate…And I pray to God to keep me clean, to help me make right the things I didn’t mean…so please Lord don’t be a stranger…And thank you for helping me, one day I’ll change, you’ll see.”
I jotted down a few observations about addictions this week and then I asked Pastor Dick and Pastor Jeff to share some of their insights. Pastor Jeff, who is a trained therapist, offered a definition of addiction: “When you are powerless to stop something even in the face of consequences.”
1. We need to stop using demeaning comments about those who struggle with substance abuse. Remember that this individual is someone’s child or grandchild or sibling or parent. We need to watch our self-righteous attitudes; it’s not OK to denigrate those who sin differently than we do. 1 John 1:8: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
2. Choices made today will have consequences tomorrow. I don’t know of anyone who has said that his or her goal is to become an addict but I know plenty of people who are partying right now and are not thinking of the consequences that may come. Hebrews 11:25 says that Moses chose the hard path “rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Sin is fun but the fun is short-lived.
3. Most of us need to hit rock-bottom before we will look up. This is why it’s important to practice “tough love” with a family member who has an addiction and not become an enabler. I talked to one person about his alcohol addiction and how it was wrecking his relationships and he told me that he “likes it too much to stop.” I told him that he’ll never quit then.
4. A person who is serious about breaking free will need multiple avenues of assistance. While spiritual help is foundational, the assistance of doctors, counselors and therapists is critical because addiction has a biological component to it. According to a news report on CNN.com yesterday, studies show that as much as 60 percent of the risk of alcohol-use disorders is genetic and the risk for alcoholism is four times greater for children of alcoholics. I recommend 12-step groups and long for the day when we can offer “Celebrate Recovery” here at PBC. Incidentally, if you live with someone who is abusing a substance, there are groups for you like Al-Anon.
5. Until a person admits they are powerless over the addiction, they will not experience freedom. Part of the power of addiction is secrecy. I like this phrase, “You are only as sick as your secrets.” Until we admit our secrets, we will not get better. That’s why step number one of the 12 steps is so important: “I admit that I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable.”
6. Just because you’ve failed or relapsed doesn’t mean it’s over. Morton Downey, Jr. once said, “It’s easy to stop an addiction. Anyone can quit. The tough part is not starting again.” Sobriety is a journey. God heals some people immediately and for others it’s a daily battle with ups and downs. Incidentally, if you’re a born again believer and you fall, that doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your salvation.