Over the next few months, I will be writing dozens of blogs aimed at addiction, culminating in a book that will release in 2019. I will spend much of 2018 researching, meeting with x-addicts who are now living in freedom and writing down my personal experiences. The aim of this content will be to give the deeper reasons for addiction, practical steps to become truly free, and give insights to pastors, parents, spouses, and friends of people in addiction.
Do you know someone who struggles with drug addiction?
Do you have a family member that just can’t get clean?
Do you have a loved one that seems hopeless?
Most of us do…
- In 2016, over 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in the US (this is up from under 20,000 in the year 2000). 1
- "21.5 million American adults (over 12) battled a substance abuse disorder in 2014” -National Survey on Drug Use and Health 1
- “About one in every six American young adults (18-25) battled a substance abuse disorder in 2014.” -NSDUH 1
- “About half of the population of American prisons and jails suffer from addiction.” -National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence 2
- Drug abuse and addiction cost American society close to $200 billion in healthcare, criminal justice, legal, and lost workplace production annually (the Office of National Drug Control Policy reports). 2
- “Mostly driven by opioids, overdose deaths in the United States more than tripled during the period 1999-2015, from 16,849 to 52,404 annually, and increased by 11.4 percent in the past year alone, to reach the highest level ever recorded.” 3
All of these statistics are on the rise...
As most of you know, up until 2010 I was one of these statistics. I was enslaved to heroin, Xanax, Klonopin, weed, and anything I could get my hands on. I went to multiple treatment facilities, government-funded outpatient treatments, and many meetings, but could not get sober. In December of 2010, I checked into a treatment facility in Florence, SC and was invited to a church service on Christmas Eve. That night, I heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and everything changed. I heard that there was a way to start over. I heard that there was a Greater Pleasure. Jesus saved me that night and has continued to transform me ever since. I was given the tools to continue to follow Jesus and live a life of freedom at the treatment facility, my church, and through personal discipleship. Because of Jesus I have been walking in full and lasting joy ever since.
Over the past seven years, I have met hundreds of people from all walks of life struggling with addiction. The faces and names are different, but the story is always very similar. “I am enslaved to drugs, want to stop, but I can't." Most have been in and out of treatment centers, but still remain enslaved. These people and millions more are hopeless, dying, and have yet to find a solution that has actually worked for the long haul.
The world has offered up many possible solutions from psychology to support groups to self-help to higher powers, all with minimal results. The answer is deeper than behavior modification and surface level recovery. The real answer to addiction is the Gospel. The Gospel offers complete acceptance and forgiveness for your past no matter how far down the road you’ve gone. The Gospel offers real hope for the future and the deep pleasure we’re all looking for in a relationship with God. The Gospel offers not just religious rituals or behavior modification, but true freedom forever. The cross of Christ offers full payment for our sins and the resurrection of Christ offers us the power to live in freedom. Jesus offers not just a one-time emotional decision, but a lifelong discipleship plan that provides real freedom. The answer to addiction is the Gospel.
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
He is the Great Physician and he came to reach those who know they are sick (aka addicts).
We get another glimpse of what this looks like Isaiah 43,
“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.” (verses 19b-21)
When the wild beasts (aka addicts) get a taste of the Living Water (Jesus), they will be forever changed and devote their lives to drinking more of Jesus and glorifying God. Jesus Christ is what addicts are looking for— they just need a taste and someone to show them the way.
Jesus also speaks of this in Matthew 13:45-46,
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it."
Addicts (along with the rest of mankind) have been searching for their long lost treasure with great intensity their whole lives. They are empty and have been filling their emptiness with fool’s gold. When they get a glimpse of the Kingdom of God they will sell everything in their old life (drugs included) to have it.
The Gospel not only is the answer to addiction, but it is the pathway to eternal life. Without the Gospel all other recovery programs at best will keep you sober for a season, but what about eternity? The Gospel and following Jesus is not only the answer to addiction but also security for eternity. My hope is that these blogs, and eventually this book, will play a part in millions of addicts finding eternal life and true freedom.
I have a vision for tens of thousands of addicts all over the world who are desperately searching for joy in needles and pipes to taste the joy that they were made for in the God of the Universe. I see people who have abandoned their families coming home to love and serve their families and raise up kids who love Jesus Christ. I see multitudes of people who have given themselves over to whatever it takes to get another hit filling our churches and planting more churches, pouring their lives out to love people and advance the Gospel. I see people who have walked in shame and guilt of past secrets running to the God of the Bible for true forgiveness and people who are able to walk in freedom knowing they are completely forgiven. I see drug addicts meeting Jesus Christ being the tipping point for revival in our country and the world. The answer is the Gospel.
Perhaps the Lord will use this book to be the spark that ignites this fire...
- National Institute on Drug Abuse https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
- American Addiction Centers https://americanaddictioncenters.org/rehab-guide/addiction-statistics/
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report http://www.unodc.org/wdr2017/