Green Country Magazine
Literary Journal

The shadows of addiction are fading and the hope for a better day is now available. This hope comes in the form of dedicated substance abuse treatment facilities with Christian modalities that can give those suffering from this illness a light in their darkness.

By John Wallis

“By all accounts, Laura was very helpful and kind to many people. But she couldn’t help herself. Laura was addicted to heroin. Even though heroin wasn’t the drug that killed her, Laura’s struggle with drugs and addiction eventually would take her life. Laura was 17 years old when she overdosed and died using alcohol, morphine, and cocaine” (True Stories).

This unfortunate story of Laura Hope Laws is a heartbreak many parents suffer when their children are caught up in a life of addiction and, just as unfortunate, are the many other stories such as Laura’s playing out daily in our communities throughout the country. However, the shadows of addiction are fading and a hope for a better day is available. This hope comes in the form of dedicated substance abuse treatment facilities with Christian modalities that can give those suffering from this illness a light in their darkness.

The rising numbers in opioid addictions over the last ten years are staggering and the cost of treating these addictions is also astronomical. However, Christ centered substance abuse programs give hope to those suffering from addiction and are the most affordable in the industry. Here we’ll look at three different Christ-centered treatment options ranging from the widely adopted Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Step program to a faith-based only approach by means of Adult and Teen Challenge (ATC) and discuss a virtual newcomer to the game that involves a psychological approach via Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), which is the most expensive but possibly the most effective form of treatment for substance abuse available today.

The Issue of Substance Abuse

From alcohol, prescription drugs, opioids, and heroin, to cocaine, methamphetamine, anabolic steroids, and LSD, the sheer number of substances to abuse is staggering. However, the war on drugs being waged lately is mainly concerned with opioids, which includes a formidable new kid on the block – fentanyl. Whereas in the past, heroin has been the “king-of-the-hill in the deadly drug game, fentanyl is currently knocking the king off its H-throne and establishing itself as an even more deadly player in the game.

According to the Drug Abuse Statistics website, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid and is highly addictive (Fentanyl Abuse). In addition to its high potency, the ‘hot spots’ [clumps of unmixed powder] it leaves in cutting other drugs makes fentanyl among the most lethal substances available on the recreational drug market (Fentanyl abuse). With drugs like fentanyl available legally and illegally, it is no wonder why the issue of substance abuse and its treatment is so prominent.

The Solution: Effective and Affordable Treatment

Yet, along with myriad substances to abuse comes the daunting task of how to approach treatment of these different substances because, when it comes to effectively treating substance abuse and reducing the rate of relapse, not all treatment facilities are created equal. Treatment programs generally fall into two broad categories of free and fee for services. The first two treatment programs discussed here are considered free and are also faith-based.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Because of its early success in recovering alcoholics, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free treatment program that has emerged as a front-runner of effective substance abuse treatment programs.

What is interesting about AA is that it is the first faith-based substance abuse treatment organization emphasizing universal spiritual values in daily living. This spiritual connection was delivered through the Oxford Group led by Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, an Episcopal clergyman (Alcoholics Anonymous).

Through this spiritual connection, Alcoholics Anonymous began to grow and deliver people from the holds of alcoholism at record pace. Through AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, the organization boasts a global presence and now includes other genres of substance abuse treatment, such as Narcotics anonymous for those struggling with addictions other than alcohol. However, the success rate for Alcoholics Anonymous has been under fire recently and there are certainly questions surrounding the success rate of the organization. But the success rate seems to be qualified based on numbers obtained solely by attendance of the support group itself.

However, a clearer image of success emerges when the AA Twelve Step program is coupled with a twenty-eight-day in-patient stay and aftercare support. Furthermore, AA is a voluntary program and those who attend tend to do better than those who do not. One thing is certain though, AA has had a huge impact on how alcoholism and addictive behaviors are viewed. Their twelve-step program has been adopted and successfully used by other faith-based and secular treatment programs alike. Some successful secular treatment programs use a twelve-step program which also includes elements such as group therapy, meditation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, music therapy, and art therapy.

One of the most important tenets of the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous is the realization that a person cannot control their addictive behavior on their own and must surrender that control to a higher power. This surrender of control is the basis of another faith-based treatment program called “Adult and Teen Challenge”.

Adult and Teen Challenge

Adult and Teen Challenge, a program founded by Evangelist David Wilkerson in 1958, is almost always a free, (there is, however, an initial non-refundable fee, the amount of which varies with geographical settings) long-term in-patient treatment program that initially severs all ties to the outside world in order to focus the mind on scripture and Christian living. Some of these programs are completed in phases and groom “students” to serve in the ministry as leaders.

Some even choose to return to the facility where they were trained and serve as “counselors” and role models to those new to the program. For instance, the Adult and Teen Challenge of Greater Cleveland is composed of two phases; one six-month in-patient period in Perry, Ohio, and then a transfer to the Adult and Teen Challenge of Mid-America in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to complete the second phase.

Here the environment is like a group home where the students can have jobs and work outside the confines of the communal home. At Cape Girardeau, their goal is stated as “[B]ased on the principle that only Christ can grant you the change you seek. Our primary goal is to help each student develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and apply the lessons they learn to every part of their lives” (Giving Men Hope).

The aim of Adult and Teen Challenge is to instill hope and restore lives by using a Christ-centered approach to addiction treatment. In so doing, “[The] impact often reaches well beyond the student in the program, reconciling families, restoring relationships, removing the need for incarceration, and creating productive citizens who often minister to those who face the problems and addictions they once let rule their lives (Giving Men Hope). The success rate given on the Teen Challenge of MidAmerica site is seventy eight percent.

Fee for Services: Moral Reconation Therapy

In closing, there is one other avenue to explore on answering the issue of substance abuse and this option supports the ongoing support-style of AA and the total immersion model of faith-based substance abuse treatment embraced by Adult and Teen Challenge. However, the option consists of a twenty-eight-day in-patient stay that incorporates a modified version of an AA twelve-step program called Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT). MRT was founded in the late seventies and early eighties by psychologists Greg Little and Ken Robinson. MRT is coupled with opportunities to attend AA meetings, faith-based meetings, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or meetings centered on meditation as modalities “chosen” by students as electives to participate in.

For example, the core of the program is MRT with routine sessions on anger management, music therapy, art therapy, health and wellness, and counseling. The “electives” give the students a choice of what they want to participate in, and some will elect to participate in more than one. There is a high percentage of students who are drawn to a Christ-centered approach for their recovery who can appreciate the other options but continue to put Christ first in their decision for faith-based healing. Having choices is always a good thing but having them available during a very stressful time in one’s life can make a huge difference in cementing the decision to stay clean, which could lead to the most effective form of treatment for substance abuse available today.

Hope for Healing

In summary, it is disheartening to hear of sons, daughters, fathers, or mothers becoming victims of the substance abuse trap like the story of Laura Hope Laws. However, it is promising to know that there are treatment programs available that are free or at least very affordable for those who do not have insurance or deep pockets. The faith-based programs are some of the best substance abuse programs one can decide to enter into that do not require a hefty down payment – only a commitment to stay clean and sober. Many of these programs also prepare the “students” for work in the ministry after leaving the program. However, if money is not an option, the choices available with a Moral Reconation Therapy program may be well worth the investment. In essence, Christ centered substance abuse programs do offer a way to fade the shadows of substance abuse and provide hope for a better day – hope to break the chains of generational curses and erase familial patterns of addiction.

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