New Hope For Aholics
Addiction is an epidemic health problem in America. Of the hundreds of people every day who call 714-NEW-HOPE or www.NewHopeNow.org for help, many have struggled with one addiction or another, or are in relationship with an addict. For instance, it is estimated from U.S. Census data that 12 million people (one in ten) suffer from alcoholism alone. Over time, if alcoholics don’t get help, the alcohol takes over their lives and destroys their health, well-being, jobs, and relationships. In fact, another 48-60 million people (four or five in ten) are negatively impacted through their relationship with an alcoholic. They may be abused or mistreated or find themselves taking responsibility for the alcoholic’s irresponsible behavior. As a case in point, more than 60% of the cases of reported child abuse and domestic violence involve the misuse of a drug like alcohol.
Many Addictions, Similar Problems
And alcoholism is just one addiction. Drug addiction, eating disorders, rage-aholism, and sexual addiction can be just as serious and devastating. Even workaholism, toxic religion, co-dependency, and other compulsive or destructive behavior patterns can be serious addictions. It’s safe to say that the odds are better than half that you or someone significant to you is an "aholic" of one kind or another. At the core of the problem for all "aholics" who struggle with addictive or compulsive behavior is a pattern of continually misusing something or someone in order to avoid emotional pain and difficulties. They are plagued with internal emptiness and continually try to fill the hole in their souls with their addiction. Of course, this only masks the real problem and makes things worse for the addict. Let me illustrate with a three brief case examples (names and identifying information have been changed):
Diagnosing "A-N A-D-D-I-C-T"
Susan, Tim, and Rachel were addicts. As is typically the case, they were able to hide their addictions from others at first. Fortunately, for them their stories have positive endings because they got the help they needed. It all began with admitting their addictions. Do you or someone you know have an addiction that needs to be addressed? To assess if a problem behavior pattern qualifies as an addiction I use the acronym: "AN ADDICT." If someone answers "yes" to at least four of the following eight questions in regards to a specific behavior then they probably have an addiction and need help:
How did you score? How did the friend or family member you’re concerned about score? If you or someone you know is an "aholic" there is help. The key is to admit that you have a problem, that your addiction is having a destructive effect on you and other people close to you, and then to substitute your negative addiction with a positive one. This is what Alcoholics Anonymous and the other 12 Step programs do for addicts. The addicts in recovery learn to transfer their dependency from the drug or destructive behavior onto the "program." The program is helpful for many reasons; it provides support, accountability, structure, new learning about addiction and recovery, and modeling of healthy living from more mature members. For most addicts, 12-step recovery is the only path to sober living.
The best way for an addict to resolve the issues that caused the addiction in the first place is in psychotherapy. When underlying conflicts, emotional deficits, destructive patterns aren’t dealt with it is difficult for addicts to maintain their recovery and they are especially prone to relapse or switching addictions. The key to a full recovery is learning how to make use of caring relationships in order to receive caring, develop personal boundaries and relationship skills, and build self-esteem. So instead of drinking when he’s depressed the alcoholic in recovery learns to go to a meeting and/or talk to his therapist (or other support person); instead of "acting out" of his pain in unhealthy, destructive behavior, he learns to bring his pain into relationship in order to receive support and to gain new strength of character.
The 12 Steps
The 12 Steps provide a path for addicts to regain hope, one step at a time. Literally millions of addicts over the years have used the 12 Step recovery program to find God and a sense of community, and to regain sanity and control over their lives. Participants learn accountability for their behavior and receive support and encouragement from attending group meetings, reading 12 Step materials, completing each of the steps and related workbook exercises, and talking with a sponsor.
Consider the 12 Steps for "aholics" listed below. Note the corresponding passages of Scripture referenced for each step. The biblical foundation for the 12 Steps is clear when you read these passages and see that they teach the same principles of recovery and life-change.
For a referral to a 12 Step group call (714) NEW HOPE or see "Referrals" on www.NewHopeNow.com.
By Dr. Bill Gaultiere