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Summary: The truth is that everyone needs hope because everyone struggles. Everyone is in recovery from the mistakes, troubles, problems, and mess-ups of their own lives. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

TWELVE STEPS TO A NEW LIFE

Introduction

On July 1st of this year Los Angeles Angels player Tyler Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room. In his system were the opioids fentanyl and oxycodone along with alcohol. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more potent.

There are just over 70,000 drug overdoses resulted in death in America in 2017. The CDC reports that there are 192 drug overdose deaths every day. Louisiana has seen significant increases in drug overdose rates. An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities). 40 million Americans ages 12 and older—or more than 1 in 7 people—abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. This is more than the number of Americans with heart conditions (27 million), diabetes (26 million) or cancer (19 million). 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has recognized September as National Recovery Month for 30 years. Three Goals:

*Educate Americans that substance abuse treatment and mental health services can help those who struggle to live healthy and rewarding lives.

*Remind us that the testimony of millions of Americans is that treatment is effective and that people can and do recover.

*Reduce the stigma and misconceptions that cloud public understanding of mental and substance use disorders, potentially discouraging others from seeking help.

Help is available, Effective, we should never feel ashamed to seek it out.

Those goals should resonate with us - the message of the gospel is hope. That message is for everyone who struggles in any way. In addition to alcohol and tobacco, opioids, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, hallucinogens, inhalants, PCP, and many other substances, Gambling, Food, Sex, Porn, Prescription Drugs, using the internet, shopping, playing video games, working, exercising, obsessions, harming oneself, cutting, outbursts of anger, aggressive/assault type behavior, stealing. Many drug addictions are connected with other behaviors and mental illness so that there can be a dual diagnosis…. More than one thing going on at a time.

What is your struggle? You might not label it an “addiction”, but is it a constant presence in your life? The truth is that everyone needs hope because everyone struggles. Everyone is in recovery from the mistakes, troubles, problems, and mess-ups of their own lives. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

When we talk about recovery, we’re not focused on what someone else needs to do, but on looking in the mirror and asking God what we need to do.This month I want us to see the message of recovery from life’s biggest disappoints, messes, and regrets.

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The twelve steps are a pathway to hope - they point to a spiritual approach to life that deals with the habits that have gotten out of control. The Twelve Steps are the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous and other addiction recovery groups. Where did they come from?

AA began in Akron, OH in 1935 when two struggling alcoholics found sobriety together. Bill W. - a NY stockbroker and Dr. Bob, an Ohio surgeon began meeting together to help each other stop drinking and AA was born. There are now millions of members worldwide. Bill W. wrote the 12 steps we now know today. Later Bill would write The Big Book and 12 Steps and 12 Traditions - which serve as the foundation for AA and other 12 Step Groups.

“Each day, somewhere in the world, recovery begins when one alcoholic talks with another alcoholic, sharing experience, strength, and hope.” - Alcoholics Anonymous

The Twelve Steps really are the pathway to a new life. They can be organized in four segments. The Twelve Steps are guideposts on a spiritual journey.

PEACE WITH GOD

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable. Only the first and eleventh step mention alcohol. If that is not your issue, you can replace it with anything that causes a separation between you and God’s will. All of us can do that: Romans 7:15-17 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. … 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me.  There is something about the human condition that influences our behavior and that makes our life unmanageable on our own.

2. I came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. When it comes to our own sin, we are unable to correct or even to undo what we have done. Is there some power greater than our own that can help us? Sometimes Christians are critical of 12 step programs for not identifying God as the source of our help … our ‘higher power’ … but we need to remember that they were written for people who were hopelessly down a dark hole and could not see a light out. The principle of God is all through the steps. Philippians 2:13 For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose.

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