Tag Archive for: National Recovery Month

Confessions of a Drug Dealer (A Recovery Room Post)

It’s National Recovery Month, and in celebration, I’ve invited Laura Beth Martin, my favorite drug dealer (a pharmacist to be exact), to bring an offering to the table. I met Laura at a writer’s conference a couple of years ago, found out she was an Arkansas girl who had a penchant for pie and drawling i-s. Enjoy her piece, then head over to her site for more of her writing.

Welcome Laura Beth Martin to the Recovery Room.

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Her voice falters and slips as I ask her how she’s doing. I notice her tired eyes and the purple half-circles underneath them. Her arms are thinner than I’ve ever seen, and I worry what that means. There’s no baby in her belly now either.

I notice that too.

My hand quickly finds her name among the sea of white prescription bags, and I place hers on the counter. I smile and ask her gently how she’s doing. She tells me now about her flat belly.

The baby came last week. Thin and long like her momma. She gives me all the standard details and shares the name she chose. As she speaks she chokes up, tears filling her brown eyes, as the words tumble out.

“They took them. They took both my children.”

And the realization of what her world looks like slams me hard in the face and I lean forward my hand gripping that counter, knuckles turning white.

“I’m sorry.” I tell her. “I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry, she says. It’s my fault. I did this.”

“Does CPS have them in foster care now?” I ask.

She nods, taking the sack from my hand. “But the baby is still in the hospital. They didn’t even let me tell my little boy good-bye.”

“That’s hard. Do you know what you need to do to get them back?”

“Yes,” she says, “and I’m doing it. I’m keeping my visitation and I’m following my steps.”

She is crying now.

“I can’t breathe without them,” she whispers.

And there, in that moment, I can see her the way Jesus sees her, scared, alone, vulnerable, hurting and confused. And I’m ashamed of my heart when I compare it to his. So many times, as a pharmacist I stand on one side of that counter and see people for who they appear to be, or who I want them to be.

The addict. The dealer. The user. The manipulator. The liar. The sinner.
I get so frustrated, so tired of being on the receiving end of attempts to use the medical system for drugs.

I’m hard hearted. A cynic.

And this is an easy thing to do when my own sin isn’t an addiction that everyone can see. When it doesn’t publicly cost me my children, or my job, or my church membership. When I can tuck that sin away and ask God for forgiveness and no one is the wiser. It allows me to create levels of separation for sin, a caste system of religious hierarchy where I can justify my own while judging everyone else for theirs. And the mask of the perfect Christian can remain firmly cemented in place.

But what if my sin were apparent? What if everyone knew I had an anger problem? Or had adulterous thoughts? Or cursed like a sailor? What if the worst thing I’ve ever thought or done was displayed for everyone to see?
My shame would undo me.

As Christians, we often want to believe that those with addictions have the power to stop whenever they want, as if there’s a light switch you turn on or off to quit craving your drug of choice. We want to believe that they have complete power over their sin.

No one has that.

Even the ones who keep the front row pews warm three times a week cannot claim to have themselves under control. We cannot white-knuckle our way through the depths of our humanness. It simply isn’t possible.

There is no one righteous, not even one.

And Jesus knows this.

He knows we are forever recovering from ourselves, thus he continually offers his grace cupped and overflowing from palms scarred. He whispers to the addict in us all,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28)

[Enjoy Laura Beth Martin’s writing? Visit her website.]

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Want to read a recovery narrative that’s about so much more than recovery? Grab a copy (or 10) of Coming Clean: A Story of Faith. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. 

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Son of a Fix.

By now, you know it’s National Recovery Month, the month dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who find recovery. (People like all of us.) In sober celebration, I’ve taken a hard look at my own recovery (alcohol was my lover). I’ve reviewed my old journals and asked whether I’m keeping my own inner sobriety fresh. Recovery, see, is a sourdough starter; you have to keep feeding it or it’ll die a stinky death.

Yesterday, I reviewed some Jesuit materials that have shaped my thoughts on true sobriety. I read and contemplated the Jesuit Principle and Foundation, which goes something like this:

“Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls.

God created all things on this earth [even wine, food, sex, etcetera, etcetera] to help us fulfill this purpose.

From this it follows that we are to use the things of this world only to the extent that they help us to this end, and we ought to rid ourselves of the things of this world to the extent that they get in the way of this end.” (Bracketed portions are my additions.)

I sat in the quiet and meditated on the Principle and Foundation. I considered my own journey toward inner sobriety in light of it. (Only toward; do we ever reach the finish line?) As I did, I found myself high-centered on the notion that God has created things for our good.

Beer?

Wine?

The human ingenuity that gave us pain pills, social media, the wheels of commerce?

Yes, I reckon, all things were made for the good of men, but men seem to have minds of their own; if a little of something is good, a helluva lot is better. And if that ain’t you, count yourself among the luckiest of saints.

I considered God’s creation of the fermentation process, how he knew men would make wine and brew beer. And doesn’t a little wine an beer make the heart merry? Isn’t imbibing amoral? And yet, if my desires lead to over-use, to lack of presence with friends and family, to disruption of my scruples, it’s a hinderance from my chief end to “praise, reverence, and serv[ice] to God….” The Principle and Foundation then requires I put my desire to death.

Burn the booze at the stake.

Send sex to the firing squad.

Shove shopping through the meat grinder.

By killing the desire to overuse, to supplant God with the materials of his making, we incarnate the reality that God is our primary fixation. Everything else is secondary.

And that brings me to the most humbling part of my reflection. I came up with no less than a half-dozen things I misuse, abuse, or use to get a fix.

Son of a fix.

Good thing, I suppose, that it’s National Recovery Month.

Today, would you ask yourself these questions:

What are the things that hinder me from praising, reverencing, and serving God, even though they might be perfectly amoral otherwise?

Can I list them?

Can I come up with strategies to let those things go?

 

Bonus:

1. Coming Clean: A Story of Faith shares my 90-day journey into recovery. And isn’t it fitting that it began in September (2013). This is my story, sure. It’s your story, too. Grab a copy. Grab an extra copy for your friends.

2. Yesterday I asked my Facebook community what they’ve learned from others in recovery. The responses were amazing. You don’t want to miss this thread.

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How to Start National Recovery Month (An Addiction Survey)

It’s National Recovery Month, a month dedicated to educating and bringing awareness to issues of drug and alcohol dependency. Awareness, recovery, dependency–aren’t these words so overused that they’ve lost their punch? Did you let the bold-faced predicating sentence slide through your auditory canal, rattle against the porcelin walls of your cranium for a nanosecond, and slide out the other auditory canal? Have you already clicked away?

“Recovery-shmovery; yada, yada; I don’t have a drinking problem or a heroin habit, but I feel sorry for those who do.” These are things implied by a number of well-meaning and upright folks. Maybe by you?

Stop. Take a breath. Consider these questions:

Do you lust after the next thing, Jones for the seasonal item of stylish flimflam pushed by the material-pushers?

Are you consumed with food, with thoughts of sugarplums dancing in your head? If not, when the sugarplums come dancing across the plate, can you eat one and stop? Do you eat to stuffed on every occasion?

Do you stare at yourself in the mirror? Do you carry your ideal body image like a photo in your wallet (or on your iPhone) as motivation to avoid the sugarplums, or any food altogether? Are you clinging to the body image of a Greek goddess? No? How about Gisele?

Have you constructed theologies so sturdy you don’t need God anymore? Do you talk about God to avoid talking to him? Are you so reformed that you’ve forgotten the presence of God in the Eucharist, in the thanksgiving?

Approval, performance—are these things your bag? Are you run ragged from all manner of people pleasing? When you can’t deliver, do you doubt your worth? Do you self-flagellate with the whip of “I wish I were more; I wish I were more; I wish I were more.” Forty lashes minus one. Day in and day out. That last round was a stinger, a real flesh-scorcher.

Does your anger boil over at the drop of a dime. “Why in the ever loving bejimminies did you drop that dime after I told you–FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING THAT WAS RIGHTEOUS–not drop that dime?!?” Do you turn fire ant mounds into Olympus? Do you resort to nuclear warfare against your well-meaning husband, wife, or children?

Is there something here I’ve missed? Have you been waiting, thinking, “I hope he doesn’t write about [fill-in-the-blank]?” Have you been holding your breath through this this piece? Remember when I told you to breathe? I meant it.

Do any of these scenarious ring true? Do these addictions distract you from the very real abiding presence of a God who wants you to know and understand love? (Really. Stop. Reflect. Ask yourself this question.)

It’s National Recovery Month and the way I see it, we all have some recovering to do. Let’s start small and simple. Ask yourself this question: “what’s my bag of addiction?”

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This month, I’ll be writinga thing or two about recovery, how we all need it. I hope you’ll come along.

And while you’re at it, would you consider pre-ordering my upcoming release from the good folks at Zondervan, Coming Clean. (Barne & Noble, AmazonDue in October, Coming Clean is an uncensored account of how I found an abiding God in the midst of doubt, pain, and addiction. If you pre-order, let me know in the comments below, and I’ll add you to the Coming Clean Insiders group on Facebook. There you’ll receive updates, and perhaps find a freebie or two along the way.

Thanks for supporting Coming Clean! Now, let’s get to work.

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