Thursday, June 22, 2017

Viewing Addiction and Recovery as a Gift

Understanding Addiction

The Christophers’ Vice President, Mary Ellen Robinson, recalls a powerful sermon she heard a number of years ago at a healing Mass for alcoholics, drug addicts, and their families and friends.  Delivered by a Carmelite priest, his words will stick with her forever.

The priest said, “All of you that are sitting here today who suffer from addiction, look at it as a gift - then turn your addiction into an opportunity to help others.  There comes a time when an addict can be close to death and another addict who is in recovery has the gift of breathing life into that human being.  That is a gift in itself.” 
Having witnessed addiction among family and friends, Mary Ellen is one of the 130 million people in the United States affected by this disease.  She explains, “It’s something that rips to the heart of everyone connected to the person suffering from addiction.  They have to endure the secrets, the lies, and the abuse that go along with this lifestyle.  It is beyond imagination unless you’ve experienced it first-hand.” 

Thankfully, there is hope for addicts because of twelve-step programs around the country and institutions like St. Christopher’s Inn, a ministry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Graymoor, New York.  For over 100 years, St. Christopher’s has been a beacon of hope for those who find themselves homeless because of addiction.  At their recent Board of Directors dinner, a young man shared the story of regaining his sobriety and his life due to their work.  

It’s also important to remember that addiction moves you away from your relationship with God  - though God, of course, is always right there waiting for you to re-connect.  In fact, it’s His power that uplifts the human spirit and lets the chains of addiction fall away.

A popular intercessor for addicts is the Venerable Matthew Talbot who lived in Ireland during the late 1800’s.  At the age of 28, Matthew took “the pledge” and never drank again. He had a great love and devotion to the Blessed Mother, went to Mass daily, and financially supported many religious organizations. He filled his spare time reading about the lives of the saints, especially Teresa of Avila, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Catherine of Siena.  He died at the age of 69 on his way to Mass.  Here is a quote from Matthew:

      “Three things I cannot escape: the eye of God, the voice of    conscience, the stroke of death. In company, guard your tongue. In your family, guard your temper. When alone, guard your thoughts.”

In order to help the millions of people in the U.S. affected by addiction understand and overcome it, The Christophers recently published a special News Note on that very topic.  As with all of our material, its purpose is to offer help and hope.  And we think the words it includes from a recovering drug addict named David say it all:

“I was a heroin and crack addict and alcoholic for 20 years.  I would steal on a daily basis and have been to jail several times for drug and alcohol-related offenses.  I got sick and tired of being sick.  I am only seven months into recovery, but now I wake up every morning just happy to wake up.  My most difficult day in recovery is a thousand times better than one in active addiction.  I want to make sure every addict knows there’s a solution.  No addict needs to feel helpless.  I want to give addicts hope that there is something that works.  There is recovery for everyone who wants it.”