Last night, I was on the panel to discuss “Battling Addiction Together” at the Mt Airy American Legion. Sheriff Chuck Jenkins called the opioid addiction a “plague” like no other he has seen. A member of the Fire Department described reviving people in our community from overdose. Ramie from the Illiano Project spoke about support groups for parents and those in recovery. Pam Knight told her personal story of overcoming addiction. All had a powerful message.
I was the last to speak. With my foot encased in a surgical boot, I clomped over to the mic, wondering what further I could add. Being a hometown family, I told our story of facing the horror of addiction, the ups and downs of recovery, and finally the death by overdose of our youngest son, Scott, at age 28.
Looking back, I wish I would have said more. I wish I would have added on to Sheriff Jenkins words when he said the opioid epidemic was something they couldn’t arrest their way out of, and that it required a community effort. I wish I had talked about Step 2 which says, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”.
Yes, this is a plague. Yes, the community needs to get educated and do its’ part, and yes, there is a power greater than ourselves that can restore us and help in the battle. AA has known this since its inception in 1935. But it goes much farther back than that. There has always been a power greater than ourselves.
Step 3 says that we made a decision to turn our lives and wills over to the care of God. On our own, we are limited in our ability to fight the evil of addiction. Battling together is better. Battling with our “higher power” is best.
Listen Love Pray Foundation helps people come into the presence of that “Higher Power. For those who seek God, our foundation helps them clear away any blocks to hearing God so they can step into the healing love of Jesus. We do this via prayer services, private healing prayer or deliverance appointments, workshops and special events. Miracles still happen, we see them all the time.
No one is guaranteed tomorrow. The opioid epidemic is scary with its’ potential for sudden death after just one relapse, or with just one use. It has forced us to our knees and made us aware of the value of each moment, each day. It has woken us up to our need of a Savior.
Addiction is a multifaceted disease that requires a multifaceted approach to recovery. Law enforcement realizes this. They have put programs in place, like Drug Court, to help. Police officers have special training and try to interact with those who struggle in a helpful way. The rescue people are heroes as they save people from the brink of death. People like Pam Knight offer help with intervention so that people get into treatment. The recovery community is invaluable in supporting long term recovery. And over it all, there is a higher power that has the ability to restore us, not only to sanity, but to a fulfilling and joyful life. If we let HIm.
One more thing I should have said was that addiction is a family disease. When my very smart and very strong daughter Kristin speaks at events, she frequently reminds family members that You are important and your needs matter too. You see, no one can force someone to get help. Watching a loved one fall deeper into the disease rips your heart out. And what usually happens is that our lives get sucked into their drama, their crisis, their needs. The drug not only takes over their life, but ours as well. How does a family find peace in the ongoing battle? Is it possible to live the life we have been called to, even as we despair over the situation? How do we access or trust this Higher Power when everything looks really bad?
I submit that addiction is a life or death situation for everyone involved. Addiction works to replace love with darkness and misery. Jesus works to heal and restore. The Truth is that nothing can separate us from His powerful love and even on this current battlefield, He will triumph and create beauty from ashes.