Faith helps recovering addicts
While Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous have religious themes or undertones, sometimes having a stronger emphasis on a higher power can help recovering addicts fight the disease of addiction.
In April, Seth Fredericks, a Life in Focus Education certified instructor, started a local meeting group centered around Christian biblical teachings and addiction recovery that meets at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the Living Hope United Pentecostal Church, 2405 Bottle Run Road.
In the 12-week program, each week focuses on a Bible lesson on a different type of addiction. One week might be alcohol, the next might be heroin. With the focus of addiction, the Bible lessons help show examples of what the Bible says about addiction.
Fredericks said that each lesson focuses on specifics about that day’s drug in more detail. In one example, he discussed the alcohol week’s lesson.
“We talk about what it is, like the chemicals and everything. We can talk about statistics about DUIs and vehicle crashes, how people die, different things like underage drinking and the dangers of drinking,” Fredericks said. “We then apply all the information we just learned, and then it goes from … we talk from the Bible. So like how David, from the Old Testament, we talk about his story here.”
Fredericks said that lesson revolves around the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba, where David slept with another man’s wife and ended up sending her husband off to war. An affair turned to killing a man because of temptation.
“So it talks about his life, and then it refers to alcoholism and how it can take us out,” Fredericks said. “When he first looked at her, he never thought he was going to sleep with her and then commit murder. It all happened. You never know what drink is going to be the drink that takes you over the edge.”
Fredericks, also a recovering addict, said that having more of a faith-based focus in addition to attending regular AA and NA meetings helps keep him focused.
“I work a 12-step program, but I’m more of a faith person; that’s my roots,” he said. “I’m not saying I don’t believe in AA, but me personally, I believe God can do it. That’s why I started the faith-based program.”
He said that the group is not meant to replace going to AA or NA, but that it can be a great addition for people looking for extra help who would like more guidance with their faith.
Although the program is not intended to replace AA or NA, court mandated papers still can be signed for attendance.
“I’ve been asked over and over again by people, not just in recovery but whose family members are sick, if I thought recovery was possible without God. For me, the answer is simple, and that is no,” Elizabeth Douglas, a recovering addict who attends the program, said.
She said the group gives her a support system that helped get her life back on track.
“I felt so alone. Through Christ … I have tons of brothers and sisters that I can talk to and that I can be myself,” she said. “I don’t feel judged … I didn’t want the judgments that caused me to lie, cheat and hurt people.”
Douglas said her faith made all the difference in her recovery.
“I have my children back today, and my family trusts me. It’s only by putting God in my life,” she said.
Melissa Smith, a recovering addict, said she started with a resentment for God because of the problems with her addiction.
“I wanted nothing to do with church. I wanted nothing to do with anything religious,” she said. “I met Seth, and I can see how his life has gotten better so quickly. He explained how it had a lot to do with faith.”
Smith said she felt like she had a missing part in her life.
“I felt like I needed to gain that faith in my life, and coming here has helped me,” she said. “I have faith that there is something greater than me. I wouldn’t be where I am today if there wasn’t. It’s important to me.”
Smith said once she started attending the program, she returned to praying.
“I feel better as a person. I can’t even explain it. I feel so much better than I was before, like everything’s going to work out and it’s going to happen the way that it’s supposed to,” she said. “I think that’s what helps me most with my recovery is the faith that if I keep going on the path that I’m going, it’s going to be OK.”
Steve Sanso, also a recovering addict, said he felt like it brought him peace.
“Before coming here, I believed in God … I just had a lot of questions of why things may be the way they are. Since getting back into recovery, that has given me an understanding of a power greater than myself, which I choose to call God,” Sanso said. “I feel like God is the ultimate authority, period … It’s God’s plan, He’s the one in charge.”
Sanso said it had been years since he had gone to church and prayed.
“Having faith and believing in God has made my life move like butter,” he said. “When you pray, you have a sense of relief … Things are just that much easier, simpler, calmer and peaceful.”
For more information about the program, contact the Living Hope UPC at 570-322-2665.