I have never worked with a family or individual who has told me that an addiction was an opportunity for blessedness. This disease untreated is not to blessed. I have heard it said in 12 step groups that addiction is the easiest disease to cure… and the hardest. Easiest because the answer is don’t use; hardest because the struggle is don’t use. The feelings associated with addiction…hurt, guilt, self-loathing, pain, anger, sadness…are hardly a blessing. A person dealing with an addiction has only one thing in mind…when and how do I get a fix? A person caught in the chains of addiction does not see God or blessedness; only the need to use.
If we look at with the eyes of faith we don’t deny the reality of the pain and devastation that addiction inflicts, but we can see where God is…..He stands in solidarity with the addict calling him/her to sobriety , freedom and peace; he stands in solidarity with the family members in their worry, their struggle and the need to practice tough love. Blessedness is the awareness of a God who can free a person from the entanglement of an illness that affects everything. Giving one’s life over to God or a Higher Power is to accept that you are blessed and always have been…. even if you have been high or drunk. Blessedness is the awareness of the God who walks with us in the darkest valleys with his rod and staff to protect us; even from our own selves and desires. Before we can accept Jesus into our lives, we need to know we need him. We all have parts of our lives that are unmanageable …. not just someone with dealing with addiction. By giving over our lives to God we rely only Him, not a substance, not a behavior.
For an addict, the freedom from a drug is to carry a cross that no one who is not an addict or alcoholic will ever understand. Sobriety is hard work and can never be done in isolation. The Christian community must stand in solidarity with these, our brothers and sisters, who need us. This is not enablement; our solidarity is to help the person to heal and find their way, without judgement. Our solidarity is to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We need to speak to the people in power who can provide the resources to treat and help the addict and the family. We need to speak with one voice for those who society looks down or forgets about. Our blessedness as God’s people is when we do what Jesus did….to challenge the structures of our day which contribute to the problem and not the solution. If we, the Christian community, speak together, we will not be ignored. It is not helpful to make criminals out of the person who is addicted; yes, there needs to be accountability, but to put someone in jail and offer no treatment is not a solution. We, the Christian community, need to work for treatment programs that will address not just the issue of addiction, but the underlying issues that addiction hides…. poverty, hopelessness, depression, mental health issues. An addiction is not limited to a certain race or socioeconomic grouop….it can affect anyone. The opioid issue is not new; but, now that it is affecting the suburbs too, there is an outcry. The Church, you and I, needs to be the voice for those addicted in the suburbs, but also in the poorer sections of our cities and in the rural towns.
There is no blessing in an addiction; if it not treated. There is blessedness in the sweat equity of recovery because God is the source of the person’s power. There is blessedness when a family can heal from the effects of the addiction. There is blessed when the Church speaks out loudly to the people in power and demands more resources for treatment, to call for structural changes to give people more opportunities once they are clean and sober, to demand more resources to treat the mental health issues under the addiction, to see the addicted person as a brother or sister in pain, not a criminal or someone to be ignored or hidden.
Our blessedness will only flower in its fullness when we accept the call of Jesus to stand arm and arm with one another, no matter who the person is standing next to us. Our blessedness will be when we can see in the other person the source of all blessedness…Jesus.