~AB109 Initiative- New Life Program~

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Understand Addiction In Order to Help Addict

New Life Program

The Public Safety Realignment Act (AB109) makes fundamental changes to California’s correctional system, shifting from the state to counties certain custodial and supervision responsibilities for individuals convicted of low-level non-violent offenses. As of October 1, 2011 those individuals released from prison whose convictions were for non-serious, non-violent felonies and who are not deemed high risk sex offenders will be placed under supervision by Riverside County Probation. Additionally, within Riverside County most individuals sentenced for non-serious, non-violent and non-sex-register-able felony offenses will remain under the jurisdiction of the County – in jail or under supervision -rather than being sent to state prison. In conjunction with Mental Health services, the Substance Use New Life Program offers outpatient groups (16 weeks), MOM’s treatment and residential services.May and I are blessed to have silent partners that have been instrumental in our recovery and realignment within society. New Life and it’s staff are compassionate and well rounded with knowledge about re-entry and substance abuse.

 

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In my deepest, darkest moments, what really got me through was a prayer. Sometimes my prayer was ‘Help me.’ Sometimes a prayer was ‘Thank you.’ What I’ve discovered is that intimate connection and communication with my creator will always get me through because I know my support, my help, is just a prayer away.

Iyanla Vanzant

This is a logical and very necessary first step. Before you can learn how best to help a struggling addict or alcoholic, you need to understand the nature of addiction. There are several models of addiction that attempt to describe what it is and why it affects people, but none of those models are entirely accurate. Many people have heard of the disease model, which does a fairly decent job of describing what we see in the real world. For example, even addicts or alcoholics who have stayed clean for several decades can relapse and be right back to their old level of consumption within a matter of days.

Also note that addiction can affect potentially anyone, including those who:

  • Have no apparent genetic predisposition for addiction or alcoholism
  • Have very little environmental risk
  • Have no moral shortcomings or laziness about them

Even if you do not believe in the disease model, learning more about how it works is a necessary foundation in learning about how you can potentially help a struggling addict or alcoholic. If you want to know how to help alcoholics then you need to learn about the condition.

Get Help Yourself In Order To Help The Addict

We cannot control a drug addict or an alcoholic, but we can control our own behavior, including how we behave in relationship to a sick and suffering (and possibly manipulative) addict or alcoholic. Therefore, the best thing that you can do if you want to help someone in your life is to get yourself to an Al-Anon meeting. The people there can listen to your situation and give you the best specific advice on how to go about handling things. Educating yourself on how to set limits and boundaries is one of the most important things that you can do in this case.

Establish Boundaries And Set Limits With The Addict

One example of setting a boundary is telling a close friend that you prefer they not be around you if they are drunk or high. Notice that it is specific, and you have to sit down and communicate this type of request explicitly with someone. Setting a boundary like this is difficult because there is this tendency to hurt other’s feelings. But that is part of what is keeping you sick, caring more about this person’s feelings than your own personal well being. Setting boundaries is about putting your own personal well being first, and letting that be a guiding example of how to live. You know you are setting effective boundaries when you are taking back control of your own life and starting to regain your own sanity, instead of being all wrapped up in the problems of a struggling drug addict or alcoholic. This is a crucial distance you must learn to keep when learning how to help a recovering drug addict.

The Apostle Paul Struggles with Sin: If anyone could overcome sin, surely it was the great apostle Paul.  He wrote more books in the New Testament and founded more churches than any other apostle.  Even though this great man of faith was a spiritual giant, he struggled with sin too.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you will not struggle with overcoming sin in this life after you are saved.

Romans 7:15-24:

15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  And all of God’s people said, “Amen!”  What Christian has not battled with the flesh?  We end up doing just what we don’t want to do…but we do it anyway.  You are not alone.  You are in good company – with Paul.

16 “And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”  Paul is saying that I agree with the Law of God…that it is good.  The Ten Commandments say we should not bear false witness, but Christians are still not fully sanctified…..it is a lifelong work of sanctification and we are still prone to lie.

17 “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” What Paul is saying is that it’s not really him anymore, but the old man or woman rearing its ugly head.  Even though we are new creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), we are still not without sin (1 John 1:8).

18  “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  It’s like Paul said that he knows better, yet he falls into sin.  The only thing is that he doesn’t stay there. He acknowledges it and gets back up.  He has the desire to do the right thing but guess what:  He still can not carry it out…in his own strength that is.  This takes the very power of God:  God the Holy Spirit (Rom 12:2).

19 “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” That is me in a nutshell.  A train wreck, a sinner, a wretch but the good news is that Paul realizes that the good he wants to do is what he is not doing…and he keeps on doing it!  The good news here is the fact that he understands that it’s wrong.  This is strong evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in him, convicting him of his sin.  A person who is not born-again has no true desire to do what is right nor are they convicted when they do evil things.

20 “Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”  Paul is cutting himself some slack. He understands that he is battling the old nature.  The pre-conversion person.  The Saul is still in there but Paul is not settling for it now, neither is he allowing to let is slide.

21 “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.”  This “although I want to do good” is because God has given him His Spirit to show him his sin and even though evil is there with him…he recognizes that he wants “to do good.”  That is hopeful because he understands that the law is at work.  The Law is a mirror, showing us our sins and he recognizes the evil being there with him (James 1:23). He wants to do good and that is a sentence full of hope, not despair.

22-23 “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” There is a battle for the mind…the battle is ultimately through Jesus Christ but it is a war nonetheless.  We might lose battles but the war has truly been won already.  The law was made clear to Paul by his conscience (Rom 2:15).

24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” Paul finally admits defeat in his own frail, feeble, human strength.  He needs rescuing.  He is subject to eternal death without a rescuer.  What can this wretched man do?!  What can we do!?

25 “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Paul falls on his face, being a wretched man and admits defeat (Rom 7:24) and gives thanks to God Almighty, our Mighty Savior, Who delivered him and Who will also deliver us.

How To Overcome Addiction

Victory in Defeat

You can not overcome sin on your own…you can not conquer your marijuana addiction on your own…you can’t overcome the addiction to pornography by your own strength…you can’t defeat the enemy of alcohol, gambling, overeating, depression…just name it:  You just can’t do it…..but God can!  He wants to help you overcome the powerful sins of your life and your strong addictions, the mighty fortress where we have no chance at all.  God desires to help us and He is more than able and He is absolutely willing to.  Imagine the God of the universe.  He created the entire universe, all the stars, the galaxies, the sun…everything!  He knows the 100 trillion times 100 trillion number of stars all by name.  Now is anything really to hard for God?!  No!  We have no power in ourselves but the Holy Spirit is God and the very power of God working in you.   The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge to God that you can not overcome this by your own power.  That is exactly what He has been waiting to hear.   Victory will only come in defeat.  You are in over your head but God is over all things.  When we tell God “I just can’t beat this thing God”, He must say, “Finally…now, maybe I can send my power to help them.“  He will be your strong tower.

Pray day and night for the help you need.  God can deliver you…He did me!  But it took time. Don’t lose heart. You will slip and fall but get back up, pray for forgiveness and ask God to cut off all the sources of your drug addiction, if you are addicted to pornography, get rid of the Internet.  Jesus said, speaking in hyperbole, “If your hand offends you, cut it off“(Matt 5:30).   What He is saying is to cut off the source of your addiction or sin.  If you can’t get rid of the Internet, then have a friend put a password protected filter on it.  If you are addicted to drugs, turn in the illegal drug dealers.  Drastic yes, but this is what it must take.  God can do all things…He created the universe and He can help deliver you and He desires to help you overcome this addiction but you may have to make some painful decisions.  We can do nothing on our own…but we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens us”(Phil 4:13).  The converse of that is that we can do nothing in our own strength.

Victory in Christ

Please don’t lose heart if you are battling an addiction or some deeply entrenched sin.  Sometimes these demons are mighty strongholds of the mind. The very fact that you are grieved over your addiction or sin is evidence that the Holy Spirit is not only in you but working in you, for the Spirit convicts us of sin and sanctification is a lifelong process.  The very fact that you searched for this over the Internet is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in you.  Can’t you see that!?  This is no coincidence. God brought you to this article today for a very specific purpose, a reason, to be a path for your feet – a light for your life.  It starts with God and ends with God.  I am a pastor today but let me tell you that I was in prison, hooked on drugs, stole, and was headed down the broad path of hell. It took me years and years to finally get over this, yet God never, ever gives up on me and He will not give up on you.  Like the Prodigal Father, He kept looking down the road for me to come to Him.  He is looking down that road today, waiting, watching, for you.

What I finally did to break the addiction was to pray that all the sources or suppliers of my drugs were removed from me or that they would move…whatever it took.  I prayed hard, “Lord, please help me, I am weak.”  You know what?  It worked.  God heard my prayer and answered it.  It took me a very long time and today I am clean and sober but I am still a train wreck, a sinner and I will never overcome all sin in this life.   Jesus’ blood covers past, present, and future sins of ours….so the very fact that you have a sin or addiction weighing heavy on you should not, I pray, make you lose heart.  The fact that you are grieved over your sin is a great sign that the Holy Spirit is trying to show you your sin.   Once a believer repents, this does not mean that they will not fall back into sin.  No, we will sin again and again…but turning from our sin we will begin to loathe it all the more.  Yes, we need to repent, but we sin every day and every day we can begin and end the day by falling on our face, hands, and knees before God to ask for forgiveness.  You too can declare as Paul did, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:25)!


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