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An open letter to the addict in recovery

I’d like to talk to you about the recovery life you are in the midst of. I know it seems like there are two types of people in rehab. It seems like there are those who have it all together, and there are those who are still using to some degree or another. You don’t fit into either category. You aren’t using, but you certainly don’t have it all together. Neither do I. I lived as an addict for almost 15 years. I’ve lived a sober life for ten months. We’re trying to not only stop making the bad decisions we used to make, but also trying to learn how to live this new life without the soothing effects of drugs or alcohol. It is an immense burden to carry. So let me say whether you have one day of sobriety or 10 years YOU ARE AMAZING! Because every single day you make enough right choices to stay clean is a day to celebrate!

YOUR voice inside

I know sometimes your voice reminds you of all the things you’ve done. I know it reminds you of the money stolen, the compromises made, the jobs lost, the person you used to be, and the person you could, no, SHOULD be now. You can’t listen to that garbage.

I know that voice tells you about all of the people you’ve hurt. I know it reminds you of the trail of damaged relationships in the wake of your addiction. Some of those people may have already passed on from this life to the next. Those are the worst. You desperately wish there was a way to communicate with them the sorrow you feel and the desire you have to make amends. But you can’t. You want people to be able to see you for who you are now. All of those things may or may not be true. But that is a page you’ve turned. You are done with that chapter. There is no point going back there again. Keep your eyes forward and continue walking the walk of sobriety. Simply make the next RIGHT choice.

You want people to see all of the hard work you’re putting in to be sober and to do the right thing. You’d love it if others kept a running sobriety clock so THEY knew how many years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds you have clean (like the counter I have on my phone that tells ME all of those things) but they don’t. But your walk isn’t for them. This walk is for you. You deserve a better life than that old one. Walk YOUR walk. Find satisfaction in the fact that you can look in the mirror without feeling disgust. Find joy in the fact that the man in the mirror knows how different you are and how much hard work you’re putting in. Find freedom in the fact that there are much less judgment and condemnation coming from the mirror these days.

The OTHER Voice inside

I know that you hear that voice in your head. I know it is loud every day when it speaks. It tries to convince you that you want to use. It reminds you of all the “good times” you had before sobriety. It tries to convince you that things were easier when you were using. When you are in places associated with using (or even places similar to places associated with using), it floods your mind with memories. For me, it is pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and hospitals. It is the town or the specific road where my dealers lived. It is the locations where I’d meet my dealers. For you, it might be the beer aisle in Walmart or the beer coolers in gas stations. It may be the liquor stores you see dotting the landscape. It could be familiar situations. It could be football games, the 4th of July parties, or even the Holidays with your families. People who haven’t struggled with addiction will never understand all the ways that voice reminds you of using or how often it happens. But you have brothers and sisters, and a risen savior in Jesus Christ, who do understand.

I’d like to tell you about that voice. That voice comes with half-truths. It brings just enough truth for you to be willing to listen to what it is saying. But a half-truth is a whole lie. The voice tells you it is trying to help. Just know that the goal is to drag you back to the hell you’ve chosen to walk away from. The life your living right now might not exactly be heaven, but it isn’t that hell you’ve chosen to leave behind. The voice is a liar. If you will always remember that its goal is to steal everything from you that you love, to destroy the life you have and are having restored piece by piece, and ultimately to kill your mind, body, and soul, it makes it a little easier to ignore the voice.

Our boss is a Jewish Carpenter

When we get saved, when we find deliverance from the things that kept us in bondage for so long. It is by the hands of a Jewish carpenter named Jesus that we have been set free. I had a thought about this yesterday. We, as addicts, often fight the memories of the past. We struggle with guilt, regret, shame, and condemnation. But every time that old junk starts to rise up again we have to bring it back to the cross. We bring it to the cross that our Jewish carpenter could’ve built (and probably built better than the Romans). He didn’t build it with His precious scarred, and bloody, hands, but He most definitely built it with His heart and His love for us. He built it so we could bring the things that keep us in bondage and leave them there so His blood could run down and cover them. He built it so we could leave those things that entangle and trip us up on this walk. He also came down off that cross, the Messiah who would rise from the dead, defeating Hell (and all the tricks it brings with it) death, the grave, and (Praise God) addiction. He came down off that cross to help us walk this walk daily, minute by minute. When that old garbage starts to rise in you again bring it back to the cross. You may have to come every day, several times a day. You need to nail that stuff to the cross and leave it there. And if you’re having an especially tough day and you don’t have the strength to do it just remember that your savior is a Jewish carpenter, and He has enough strength to help you work the hammer and nails so that you can hear His voice echo in your head, “It is finished!”

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  1. Great read Greg. I graduated 11/23 and life hasn’t been easy by any means because I STILL have consequences to deal with and have struggled with fear and anxiety but I am a broken vessel that God is piecing back together.

    • Thanks brother. Words cannot tell you how proud of you I am. Keep your head up and keep fighting. Never be afraid to contact me if you need me. I mean that.

  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful sharing, we have many going thru this but I have where to start from,,,,,,,,however what can be done to stop drug addiction?

    • The power of Jesus Christ to break all forms of bondage is the first thing. He sets the captives free. But also, understanding addiction, what causes it, what fuels it, and what prevents it is key. This is really a longer answer than for a comment thread, but here is the short version. Having a willing participant is key. You can force sobriety on an unwilling person, but you cannot force a clean lifestyle on an unwilling person. The next thing is to give them some time in a controlled environment where they don’t have access tot he drugs. This breaks the hold the subconscious has on them. Then you begin the process of figuring out what is the root cause of the addiction: what trauma or brokenness. Then you have a plan that involves process, healing, and a plan for openness, honesty, and transparency, going forward. The last piece is having a committed addict in recovery, who will use an appropriate system of accountability. Of course, Jesus can heal all of that in one moment in a miraculous healing, but that is the process of breaking addiction.

  3. I am a Christian and my nephew just entered a drug rehab in California. He was taken there by my brother who went and got him in Minneapolis. He’s been on and off of drugs for 17 years (he is 33). I would like to send an encouraging letter and card when he is able to receive mail. He was brought up Jewish and now doesn’t believe in God. I want to offer him the Good News of Jesus Christ. I pray everyday for him that God will protect him and bring to him a believer to witness to him. I know that I should say something but it feels awkward. Is it too soon to act? I love him so much and don’t want to see him perish. I live in Florida and only see him every few years.

  4. I remember waking up one morning drinking coffee with my fiance and my 3 yr old little girl was sitting next to me happy. Nobody had any idea of how messed up inside with guilt and pain I was. I hid it well, for a while. I broke down and told most of my dark secrets that were destroying me and potentially my family. I had to do it on my own but i knew it was time. THE HOG is the best thing that ever happened to me and I recommend anyone else in a similar situation to take the journey as well.

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