How Does Spirituality Help Addicts

Can Christianity offer a viable solution to drug and alcohol addiction and if so, how does spirituality help addicts? What are the effects that organized religion has had on society and are they positive-does Christianity give solutions to the terrible plight of drug and alcohol addicts? In God in the Pits: the Enron-Jihad Edition, author Mark Ritchie discusses the problem of addiction with a friend in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA):

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I visited Tom several times over the next few weeks as he went through the twelve steps of AA. On one of my visits we talked about the twelve steps to freedom. "What do you make of all this 'higher power' talk?" he asked me as we ate lunch together between sessions.

"They define the higher power as 'whatever your idea of it might be.' I would think that if there is some actual power out there, one might be a little more interested in some accuracy about it, or him, or her." He laughed. "Well, who cares, y'know, whatever your idea is."

"You've got a point there," I admitted. "Seriously though," I went on, "suppose I just raise my hand at the next session and say, 'My higher power is the same one Jim Jones, Adolf Hitler, and Charley Manson had and he just makes me feel great about myself.'"

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"Hey, that's great buddy. They'll ask who you're here to help and next thing I know, I'll be listed as a danger to society. It's an interesting point though. Jones, Hitler, and Manson all have a higher power. I guess for Jones and Hitler I should say 'had,' thank God. It just seems that if this higher power is as critical as they say, we might be a little more discriminating."

"It's sort of an academic discussion, don't you think, because you and I know the God who is the higher power. Are you willing to lean on your higher power to control the alcohol dependency?" The question slowed the pace of the conversation more than I had intended.

"I guess I'm not sure," he said unconvincingly, and I could now see what Tom needed-and it wasn't some more accurate theology. He needed help with his dependency on alcohol. But how does one get help if he doesn't really know he needs it? I knew how agonizing it was to have to eat the humble pie that God required, and I genuinely felt sorry for anyone put in that position. But I also knew that there is no solution to the human problem without the humility necessary to face one's moral need.

"Look," I said "Just ask yourself, 'Have I messed up? Do I need God's help?' If the answer is 'no,' then leave the program and move ahead on your own. If 'yes,' then ask God's forgiveness and get his help to go on."

"I don't know," he said, thinking the whole thing over. "It seems so cruel, so dehumanizing, it strips one of all his dignity." "Well, you tell me, Tom, just how much dignity do you get after you've irresponsibly squandered your family's money in the market and used alcohol to help ignore the problem?"

He laughed. "Well, if you're going to put it that way." It was tough talk, but my friend was back to that horrible problem I had faced-a simple matter of pride. "This isn't easy y'know."

"If I knew an easier way, buddy," I said, "I'd be the first to tell you about it, because this is murder on the self-image."

Tom was able to face himself and ask God's forgiveness and not long after, by a "curious coincidence," was able to obtain a membership and get back into the pit and trade, this time under the full control of his faculties. How much sweeter it is to see relationships healed rather than terminated.

Excerpt from God in the Pits, The Enron-Jihad Edition, by Mark Andrew Ritchie
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