6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Ninth in a series exploring life crisis, based on the promotional materials provided by Outreach in their "Who Cares" campaign. This message explores the life challenge of addiction.

(Extensive inspiration for the sermons in this series derived from the sermon samples in the "Who Cares" promotional series by Outreach Ministries.)

(Opened this message with the "Who Cares" Sermon Starter on Addiction)

Smoking. Drinking. Drug Use. Sexual Addiction. Food Addictions. They can all be portrayed as cool. Trendy. Even “mature.” But they all carry with them another side. A much darker side. One that leaves the addict feeling enslaved and hopeless.

One news report said it well when it was speaking of an addiction to alcohol and it indicated that “Alcohol is closely linked with virtually every negative aspect of society; suicide, violent crime, birth defects, industrial accidents, domestic and sexual abuse, homelessness, death, and disease. It is the No.1 drug problem for people from all walks of life. It is No. 1 among whites, African Americans, and Hispanics, and it’s No. 1 among poor people and rich people, men and women, and young and old people alike.”

Young and old. In fact, chemical dependency among older adults is a growing problem. A government report stated that up to 17 percent of adults, 60 or older, have a problem with alcohol abuse, and over one-third of these developed the problem after reaching the age of 60. Factors involved in their addictions included: grief over the loss of a spouse or friend, loss of a job through retirement, loss of one’s home, or dislocation of the family.

Alcohol is currently used by more Americans than any other drug. And here is an absolutely incredibly amazing number. About 350 Americans die daily from alcohol-related problems while about 15 to 30 die daily from health effects of illegal drug use. Kind of makes you wonder which one should be illegal.

One member of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote the following:

We drank for happiness and became unhappy.

We drank for joy and became miserable.

We drank for sociability and became argumentative.

We drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.

We drank for friendship and made enemies.

We drank for sleep and awakened without rest.

We drank for strength and felt weak.

We drank "medicinally" and acquired health problems.

We drank for relaxation and got the shakes.

We drank for bravery and became afraid.

We drank for confidence and became doubtful.

We drank to make conversation easier and slurred our speech.

We drank to feel heavenly and ended up feeling like hell.

We drank to forget and were forever haunted.

We drank for freedom and became slaves.

We drank to erase problems and saw them multiply.

We drank to cope with life and invited death.

Despite the world’s best marketing efforts, there is definitely another side. . .a much darker side to substance use, abuse and addiction. Listen to this alcoholic’s testimony -

(Testimony 1 - Had read off stage by congregation member)

I always feel a little strange on Memorial Day weekend. You see, when I was a sophomore in high school, my parents went away for Memorial Day and left me at home alone. Big mistake! I threw the party to end all parties. There were people there I’d never seen before, a band, people drinking beer in every room of our house. Half way through the weekend, our house was a disaster.

I was twelve years old when I took my first drink. My mom and adopted father were hosting a Christmas party for several of their friends. They had an open bar, and the more the booze flowed, the less people noticed that I was helping myself to the orange juice and vodka drinks they called screwdrivers. I don’t remember exactly how many screwdrivers I drank, but I do remember spending the night throwing up in the bathroom. I also remember feeling absolutely awful the next day. In fact, I couldn’t drink orange juice without feeling like I was going to throw up for months after that.

Any normal person would’ve learned from that experience, but for me that night was just the beginning. Within a week I was regularly sneaking into my parents’ liquor cabinet. I didn’t care what I drank--bourbon, vodka, brandy--it didn’t matter. The drink was just the delivery system; what I was really interested in was the effect. Alcohol provided a numbness from the pain and confusion I was going through as a twelve year old.

And I didn’t stop with drinking. Soon I was experimenting with drugs as well, and by the time I was 13 years old I was a daily drug abuser. I tried everything I could get my hands on: marijuana, pills, meth, angel dust, LSD. The only thing I never tried was heroin. I figured if I avoided heroin, I wasn’t a drug addict.

For six years I drank and abused drugs on a regular basis. In fact, I can’t remember one sober day from the time I was twelve until the time I quit when I was 18 years old. My grades went from being A’s and B’s to F’s. My last year of junior high school I was suspended three times for getting into trouble. In fact, I failed all but one of my classes my last semester, but the school graduated me anyway, just to move me on to the high school. I coasted through high school in a continual mental haze.

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