Our minds chatter,  our brain cells clash and our body follows.

Myself and many others lost a friend to substance abuse recently.  It’s difficult.   The first question that pops in my heart is WHY?  Emotions clog reality and I come up with an obscure conclusion.   But this has become a regular event.   Losing people to drugs and alcohol like it’s a sport.  My reactions are getting shorter and less infected. 

But I notice that I am on edge for a few days after getting news like this.  Deep down I really do care and I really am disappointed.  I’m at a loss for words,  constantly questioning the reasoning behind why we do this to ourselves.  I mean,  I was there and I know exactly what it’s like getting recked and destroying my life.  Not caring about ANYTHING but myself.  Pushing the limits of my sanity and brutally killing myself day by day.

I haven’t forgotten.  I will never forget.  I am reminded daily of my destructive past.  What it’s like to lose all hope and all my faith.  And I mean all of it.  I was so lost when I was using that I didn’t know what was going on.  Like a plane in the clouds, having pills as my control tower.

So I’m on edge a bit, reminded of the true reality of addiction and what its soul purpose is.  Did I lose touch with or stray away from my past and my reason for staying clean?  Was my recovery on a little sabbatical?  Did I need to hear of another loss to ‘wake me up’?  No.  But it’s like jumping into a pool and realizing the water is freezing cold.  You tense up and become very alert.

Sadly, it’s not the person who has died who has to live with the pain.  It’s everyone around them that loved and cared for them.  The one’s that tried to help.  The one’s that turned their back on them when they couldn’t deal with the stealing and lying and the irresponsibility any more. 

Some people may have saw it coming.  Some of us aren’t that surprised because we knew the path they were on.  We tried, counselors tried,  the program tried,  even they tried but just couldn’t get it.  So that’s it.  Another one gone.  What are we going to do.  What CAN we do.  Live and let live right?  To each his own.  Ain’t none of my business.  I have priorities and one of them isn’t wasting time with a bottom feeding addict.

Those excuses get us nowhere.  We need to care.  We need to be good examples for our children, our friends and our family.  We can’t give up on people.   You know, encouragement goes a looooong way.  Tell them that they do not have to live like this and that they CAN do better and that it is in them to do better.  Offer help without enabling or feeding their addiction.  Tell them that they were created for a purpose and if they ask you what their purpose is,  tell them that their purpose will be revealed once they come clean and begin surrendering their addiction. 

And don’t talk like you’re hanging with one of the guys.   Get down to the point.  Hit a nerve.  Piss them off if you have to.  Be truthful.  Be honest.  Give them something to think about next time they decide to use.  But be sincere,  speak from your heart.  If you don’t love them,  tell them that God loves them and tell them that they are not alone,  that there is hope. 

Let them know that people do make it through addiction.  That addicts do come clean, that we do admit we are wrong and that we do indeed need a Savior to free us from our bondage and our strife!  We need to surrender DAILY, put ourselves second and start walking with our heads up knowing God is with us,  and when He is with us,  who can stand against us?

Love is action, faith is action, helping is action; take action TODAY.

“O LORD my God, I called to You for help and You healed me.” Psalm 30:2
He is amazing, take a walk with Him and see. 😉

Become Free… Become the Difference

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This question is asked when we are at the crossroads. Maybe a friend, family member or a counselor will ask this when life is simply unmanageable or when we realize our way just isn’t working.

How Bad Do You Want It? Do you even know? Are you sure you even want it? Unfortunately, I got way past the point of wanting it, I got to the point where I needed it. And I knew it. It was either death by self or some form of help.

Asking an addict how bad do they want to get better is like asking a non addict how bad do you want to stop breathing. Ironically it’s that serious. In an addicts mind, the drug use and substance abuse is just like breathing fresh air.

Now, if you are not struggling with drug/substance abuse, you can stop here. This is for people struggling with drug addiction. This is for the stubborn ones who think they are fine. The ones who think no one knows.

Remember when you were last clean? That may take a few seconds. How about this… remember the last time you looked in the mirror and were proud of yourself? How about the last time you kept a promise?

Ask yourself how bad do you REALLY want it. Take a second and look back at the damage you have done. To your mom, your dad, your grandparents, your kids; to yourself. How about those REAL friends you had, yeah, the ones who don’t want to be around you anymore because you’re messed up. It bothers you but you know deep down inside you did this to yourself. You made your own prison of solitude and confinement. I know, you can’t wait for that next high.

You are so deep into your addiction you forget what it’s like to have real friends. You forget what it’s like to actually get 8 hours of sleep and wake up relaxed and at peace. You forget what it’s like to keep a job and be honest, to save money, to pay bills on time, to keep promises you have made, to think like a normal person.

Don’t you want to know why the voice that tells you to use is the same voice that ridicules you after you do? Remember when scheming new ways to hustle and get high were non existent? When checking peoples medicine cabinets for prescriptions, stealing money out of purses and selling the stupidest things to get high became a new hobby? What about all the thoughts on ways to get money to get high? I bet you don’t have to think too deep on that one.

Is “I Am A Full Blown Addict” on your resumé? Ever tell anyone the exact nature of what you do and how you do it? Ever discuss your methods with anyone on what your brain patterns are like and what you go through every minute of every day? How about the withdrawals? We both know what happens when you are dope sick. One word, autopilot.

How bad do you want it? How bad do you want your life back to where all of this is behind you? Think about it. You are either high or hurting right now. Either way, you have a choice every day to choose.

I am telling you that you do not have to live like this. As bad as you want to get high is how bad you need to want to get help and change. Get on your hands and knees and ask God for help. Get right with Him. Admit you are wrong, admit you are selfish and are in need of a Savior. Get to meetings. Find a detox and a rehab where you can gain knowledge on why you do what you do. Get back the basic principles on life and back to living the way you are supposed to, with purpose. There are resources all around you, you just need to start looking. Surround yourself with productive people. People who will not enable you and pull you down.

God loves you so much, He is always there, waiting with open arms. Do what ever it takes to stop this destructive lifestyle.

Here is a phone number to call for a detox or a rehab near you in the Unites States. Make a call. Be responsible and become free TODAY. 888-831-2327 or visit http://www.drug-rehab.org.

God is bigger than your addiction.

Become Free. Become the Difference!

How To Become Free

Well, it is at first.  Then again, at first, we are not addicted.  So when does addiction take it’s power over us?  How far into our habitual obsession do we need to go to see the decision making become automatic; into it’s predestined pattern?  

Yes, we have the power of choice.  We choose to experiment.  We choose to hang out and commune with the right people and the wrong people.  We have a decision making process which makes good choices and bad choices and we have to deal with the consequences either way.

We constantly hear of people, friends and family, overdosing and dying from substance abuse.  “Oh, they made a bad choice.  What were they thinking?  They chose that path; they made their bed now they have to sleep in it.”  I hear it all the time.  Usually from people who have never experienced addiction and the power it has over us.  People think it was our choice to suffer and become thieving junkies.  That first day when we experimented with our long term poison, we weren’t saying to ourselves, “I can’t wait to screw everyone over and destroy my life and every bridge I have ever walked across.”

Addicts made a choice one day to use.  We made a choice, for whatever reason; depression, stress, a loss, childhood trauma, whatever.  We chose to take a mental stimulus to impose happiness in one form or another.  We also chose to take a dip in it at the end of every stressful week.   Which became a couple times a week, to every other day, to every day.  Has addiction set up it’s scaffolding yet?  Not yet.

mhYqfi4Believe it or not, our minds are still at peace.  We are happy.  We’re feeling really good and enjoying the high.  It enhances our abilities and helps to see positively; it’s a new hope!  Well, that’s how it seems.  We don’t know whats going on yet.  As far as we are concerned, it’s just something we are doing, like brushing our teeth, with magical toothpaste.. we do that every day right?

sad-woman-silhouetteSome time goes by.  Something tells us we may have a slight problem so we try to stop.  We try and quickly realize life isn’t the same without this chemical.  Our thoughts change, our conscience tells us one thing and we compromise with another.  There is a mental battle going on between what is right and what is wrong.  What we used to spend time on, our priorities, important things, very important things, we no longer have a care for and become secondary.  Then we get depressed because we are trying but we are not able to choose.

Something either tells us or moves us to constantly feed this compulsive obsession.  It’s needed.  We persistently depend on it.  Now addiction has moved in and it is renting space we just don’t have.  It has become our engine, being fueled with chemicals.  It is the mainframe of our thinking, the electrical system for our thought process and like a cancer it grows and grows and surrounds our thoughts like a vine wrapped around a telephone pole.

Every choice and decision we make from here on is like flipping a coin.  We are lost in a maze with no solution; we have no idea how we got in and have no clue how to get out.  Integrity, motivation, self control, and happiness are all out the window.  Hope and faith are so far away we can’t even come up with any words to define them.  We are on a self centered path of destruction and we don’t care who or what is in the way.  Emotions and feelings are for the weak.  “Just give me what I want, please, I need one more…”, is a daily mission statement.  Scheming, lying, cheating and manipulating are now our new characteristics.  We are on auto pilot and we are so far in, well, lets just say it’s like a tunnel in the shape of a circle, it’s a vicious cycle of disappointment and regression.

Welcome.  This is drug addiction.  You can relate to this or you can relate this to someone you know.  Some of you may even be able to relate this with addictions other than drugs and substances; the thoughts and the obsession.

Choices and decisions are not of our own.  We are not thinking clearly.  We are lost.  We are addicts and in our addiction, getting high, fueling up, our doses, our outcomes and our thinking become compromised.  No quote card on a website is going to make us better.  We are under siege, we are being controlled by something else.  It’s not us.  It’s not a choice any more.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or drug addiction, there is hope.  Constantly offering help to a loved one is difficult and they may hate you for it, but when they come around, they will love you for it.
This is why there are detox and rehabilitation facilities nation wide.  There are people willing to offer help, resources and information on treatment for people struggling with addiction.  Call 888-831-2327 for a Treatment Center near you, anywhere in the United States, 24-7.

Most importantly, keep them in your prayers.  Do not give up on them. Pray to God Almighty that He intervenes and breaks their addictive behaviors and sets them free!

Become Free!  Become the Difference!

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Trust is like a skyscraper, it takes years to build and only seconds to destroy.

We trust our mail man to deliver our mail to the right house. We trust our accountant to get our numbers right. We trust our bank teller to deposit our money into the right account. We trust that car pool or bus driver in the morning to get us to work in one piece. We trust that website we just gave our credit card to. We also trust that same credit card company not to jack up our interest rate to 29.99% for no reason at all.

We trust our tires to stay inflated while we are going 75 mph around a turn on the highway. We trust our washer machine to wash our clothes and not leak 30 gallons of water everywhere. We trust our roof on our house to hold up the weight of snow that builds up over the winter. And during that same winter, we trust our pipes not to freeze. We trust our insurance to come through after an accident, we trust our healthcare provider to support us when we need it and we trust our schools to contact us when something happens to our children.

We put trust into so many things, it’s crazy. Like the chair i’m sitting on, the computer i’m using and the glass of water i’m drinking. Trust is built all around us and we make it and break it on a daily basis. We trust our parents. We trust our children. We trust our family. We trust them to be there when something happens. We trust them to love us and show affection in a certain way, every time.

So what happens when this trust is broken? It becomes easy to trust someone when they have built up trust and can be trusted, but what happens when someone breaks that trust, that for so long, has always been a foundation on which they stood?

What happens when a father, or a mother, a brother or a sister, a cousin, a nephew, a niece, or a loved one, a best friend, a girlfriend or a boyfriend decides to relapse? And through that relapse, overdoses and dies.

It’s a selfish act. And we get angry. “You were responsible to me, to our kids, to our family and you threw it all away. You made a suicidal decision and thought of no one but yourself. You put yourself first and everyone who loves you second. You not only killed yourself, you killed us, as a family. Things will never be the same.”

Who was there to help? Was this person working their recovery on a daily basis? Did tragedy strike and all went out the window? Did some past trauma from childhood come back to haunt them? Whatever reason it may have been, we all are responsible for each other. And the first person to say they are not is a true definition of a egotistical, self centered, narcissist. I know we can’t control everything, but we can make a difference. Are you constantly looking out for number one? Yourself? Or are you planting seeds in someone’s life?

We are CALLED to love each other and to look out for each other! You think something is going on with someone, inquire. Intervene, ask questions, offer advice, offer help, do not judge, show compassion, show an unfailing love and concern, offer assistance. Offer what ever you can offer to help try to save a lost soul, a drug addict, a family member, an alcoholic. As much as you think that person doesn’t deserve it, you are judging them while they are down; they need help getting back up.

I have lost a handful of friends in the past two years and if you are an addict, you most likely have too. I have also lost family members to drug addiction. There were many times I didn’t step forward and offer help. Today I can. Today, I believe God uses me and many others to help save some people from personal destruction. Losing is the worst feeling, but to gain, to watch addicts turn their life around, to watch people accept Jesus Christ into their lives and watch them grow, is the best feeling in the world!

We lost an actor, a great actor to drug addiction. I didn’t know him personally but I sure know what everyone around him is going through. Please keep his family, the one’s who are living the pain, in your prayers. Please keep anyone you may know who is struggling with substance abuse in your prayers and if you can, reach out to them, love them and offer yourselves to them in any way possible.

Become Free, Become the Difference!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

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This is a picture I drew while in rehab. I drew it with a BIC pen.

When I first got into rehab, I was confused and lost. I was dope sick. My mind was racing, I couldn’t sleep and all I could think about was myself and how I was going to get through this.

I’d say the first month was all about myself. I was literally losing my mind. I was shaking and my stomach had a mind of its own. Dope sick is the worst. My whole mind, body and spirit was aching. I wanted to leave but the little conscience I had left told me to stay and wait it out.

That month was a testing of many mental trials. It was all about me. Because of the way I was feeling, I was extremely selfish in my thinking and only wanted everything to benefit me. All I wanted was comfort of any kind and I didn’t get it. Well at least at that point, I thought I wasn’t getting it. I thought it was absolute torture. No one cared, no one loved me and no one wanted to help.

After that selfish first month of living without my poison running through my body, I realized that I WAS getting help and being comforted. I started becoming grateful for the place I was at. I was being fed. I had a bed to sleep in. I was getting counseling, I was being taught principles and I was being transformed into a clean human being again. Waking up was getting easier, sleep was getting better and my attitude was being adjusted. There was a slow metamorphosis happening, from selfish to benevolent.

I started doing things I used to like to do, on my free time, even to this day. One of them is drawing. Just whipping a pencil back and forth is fun. Something usually appears on the paper. I can draw fast and make a quick sketch or I can take my time and whip up a detailed drawing. Either way, I now have the ability to put my problems, my anxiety and my selfishness aside.

It’s the same with helping others. I talk with many people who are struggling with drug addiction and other habitual quirks. I stand strong in my recovery, knowing that I have a purpose and that it is not all about me. I have my life back and I thank God every day for the chance to go out and live a productive lifestyle.

During my stay at rehab, I got a chance to work at the front desk. It was kind of like my own little office. I answered the phones, completed new beneficiary intakes and basically was an assistant to all of the counselors and housemen. As the days went on, I saw people, lost, dope sick people, coming in and going through the same thing I went through. They were on a mission to benefit themselves. Some didn’t last long but the ones that made it to a few months began to change too. They got happiness and some of the void, which was filled with hopelessness, filled with hope and determination.

Many of the guys who had a few months of clean time began helping the newcomers. They shared their struggles along with the in’s and out’s of the program. Now that I think about it, I had a few guys help me out my first month. They guided me along and kept me afloat. It’s an awesome thing to be led and encouraged when you need it.

As I grow and as I watch others grow, I have come to an understanding of what a renewal of the mind is all about. Understanding that putting ourselves second, or even third, well, last for that matter, enables us to move forward, grow and help others. Staying Humble, remaining Teachable and being Grateful is the only way we are going to become who we are supposed to be. Putting effort in these three things keeps us at a level open for opportunity and blessings. Put God first, others second, your’SELF’ last and watch Him make a difference every where you go!

“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.'” Matthew 18:1-5

What IS the Greatest commandment?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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I went to CR, Celebrate Recovery, last night. We went over the twelve steps and being a meeting which is filtered through the Word of God, all the steps had a relevant bible verse which supported each step. Then we broke off into groups. The men got together in one group and the women got together in another. It’s nice because you get to share with each other, the common struggles that each of us go through.

The discussion topic was on sanity and had a two part question, “What do you keep repeating over and over again, expecting a different result? What result are you looking for?”

It’s a funny and very fitting question. So I related it to my addiction. When I was using and abusing drugs, I was continuously chasing a high with the same result. I knew how I was going to feel. I knew it would only last for an hour or so. I knew that the same consequences were going to arise every time but I kept doing it every day for years.

Why did I keep chasing the same result? Why did I constantly obsess over and adapt to the same old routine? I had no idea, at the time. My day started with hustling and stealing and getting my fix. I knew how I was going to feel every time. I knew that getting high took focus off my problems and my daily stress, I also knew that I was going to withdraw off the chemicals that I put into my body. So why, over and over, did I continue doing this expecting a different result?

Well the more and more I used, my tolerance grew stronger and stronger. So I actually did get a different result every time. I got higher and I got a more euphoric mental vacation. I was looking for a better result every session. I needed that same feeling if not better.

I do the same thing with other things as well. I will take a ride to McDonalds, get a McDouble and a small fry, knowing it will give me a stomach ache, and continue to do so about once a week. Why do I do that? I have no idea! It’s like playing with fire in a careless way, I know I’m going to get burned, but I play with it anyway. Or when we get into a relationship with someone who is using, knowing that it won’t work, but go ahead and keep meeting up. How about going into work with an attitude, knowing we are going to start conflict, and continue being a miserable brat while expecting people to just get over it. The list goes on and on.

So we went around the room and the guys gave their synopsis on the question. It was amazing to hear all the different battles and struggles they were dealing with. It’s good to hear what others are going through, it puts your life into perspective.

As we concluded the meeting, I realized that we keep chasing comfort of some kind. We keep doing things over and over looking for a serenity and a peace of mind that we never seem to accomplish. Especially in habitual and addictive circumstances. So why? Why this constant attempt to fill in a void we just can’t seem to fill?

Then it hit me. We search and search for a savior. Something to free us of our strife. Something to make up for the past and even the future. We do things to make us happy. We do things like we are trying to solve a puzzle but there is never an answer and if there is an answer, it is temporary.

I am convinced, after struggling with drugs for a decade, and other mindless quirks, that God wants us to come to Him with all of our problems. He wants us to put Him first and to rely on Him when we are in need. Just being a Christian and a ‘believer’ isn’t enough. I have been a Christian most of my adulthood, however I never really walked the walk the way I was supposed to. I went to church here and there. I hung out with a few people that were strong in the faith but most of the time I was living life on my terms.

Surrendering daily, hitting meetings, attending church, praying, reading the bible and constantly talking with God keeps me on the right path. I am persistently seeking Him every day. I want to because I know it’s what I’m supposed to do and I love reaping the benefits! I feel blessed. I don’t have much but I am extremely grateful for what I do have, especially having my obsessive and compulsive nature behind me. Putting Him first keeps me humble, keeps me grateful and helps me remain teachable.

It’s an amazing life following our Creator. It’s in us to worship a Savior, it’s in our DNA to come to our Father with our problems, our struggles and most of all our praise! He deserves ALL the glory. Call upon Him and seek Him daily. You will find a loving and caring God which no chemical or any other path can replace!

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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Here’s my view on medications that supposedly help people ‘wean off’ from opiates and/or opioids along with long-term narcotic addiction.

Just to draw the fine line between opioids and opiates, in case you’re wondering… An opi’oid is basically a synthetic form narcotic NOT derived from opium which obviously influences opiate receptors and an opi’ate is a drug CONTAINING opium which also influences opiate receptors. There are many drugs that are fully an opioid, that are fully an opiate and that are both. They both have the same euphoric effects and side effects and are both narcotics.

Ok, this is crazy, the same FDA approval and the same legislature that allowed opioids in the first place also allowed medication to help block and to help ease the side effects and withdrawals of these narcotics. Kind of like a store selling cigarettes and next to those cigarettes is an electronic cigarette with a pamphlet on how to stop smoking.

Now I’m not going to get into the chemical displacement and neurological effects and imbalances about these drugs because I am not a doctor. However, I am going to tell you, from much experience, what this stuff does, how it effects addicts and how it can be potentially dangerous.

To start off, people with an addiction or a dependence to opiates/opioids need help, plain and simple. Being an addict, our thought process, our decision making, and our lifestyle has all been compromised. Life is unmanageable. So with this said, a doctor giving Suboxone or Methadone to an addict to administer to one’s self, is ludicrous. That’s like giving a baby a loaded gun to play with. Even if a parent or guardian administers these pills to an addict, the addict will most likely figure out ways to beat that system real quick.

SUBOXONE- (Buprenorphine/ Naloxone) There are many pharmaceutical companies that make them. But the most used and abused are Suboxone’s. These orange, and orange tasting, sublingual tablets are supposed to be dissolved under your tongue. When an addict is withdrawing, these block the receptors, take the cravings and withdrawals away. Well are supposed to.

From my experience, I have taken Suboxone and I still wanted to get high. It did help with withdrawals but because of my addiction, I wanted more. I usually took Suboxone when I was broke and knew for a fact I wasn’t going to be able to come up with an Oxycontin, a Morphine or some Heroin. But there were times where I had taken an entire 8mg Suboxone and a rare instance would come up where I was able to get my fix. It took 2-3 times the dose it usually took to get high because the Suboxone blocked my receptors, not allowing me to get high. But eventually I did, which is dangerous, very dangerous. Even though I didn’t feel high, the extra doses of narcotics were in my system.

I have heard of people shooting Suboxone. I have heard of people sniffing them, chewing them and even smoking them. Wow, what an addict will do to manipulate things. I have even heard of addicts not feeling any better or different after taking Suboxone. An addicts mind can alter many things so it does happen. I remember taking them and still feeling very anxious and uncomfortable. I wasn’t in a program and had absolutely no guidance at all. I bought the Suboxone’s off the street and took directions from another addict.

METHADONE- Basically takes away the pain and makes you feel really good. Addicts like this over Suboxone because it’s quicker, stronger and is an opioid. If you have ever driven into a city and seen a line of anxious people waiting to get into a building, it’s most likely a Methadone Clinic. The methadone is supervised and administered by tablet, by liquid and I think some places are even injecting it now.

Again, our legislature allows places like this to help addicts. You come from where ever you are, get in line, take it and you leave. They go by schedules and dosing. So eventually an addict is supposed to be weaned down to a very low dose and will have to stop. Methadone, like every other pill, is also available on the street. Addicts take them, like Suboxone, when they start withdrawing and also take them to get high.

If an addict is in a program and is being administered Suboxone or Methadone in a controlled environment, with supervision, then they can be beneficial. There should be a time period where they plan on discontinuing the doses. The problem I have with these medications is the simple fact that if a relapse happens, they are going to rely on them. These medications only prolong the main problem. Addicts are addicts for a reason. There is an underling problem which needs fixing. I wrote a blog on it here: https://becomefree.org/2013/09/04/drugs-subsidiary-to-the-underlining-issue/

I have friends who have been on Suboxone and friends who have been on Methadone for years. Not learning or growing, just getting them from a doctor and living off them. It is more difficult to come off of Suboxone and Methadone than it is off of Heroin especially if the addict has had no structure and support. If you abruptly take these medications away from an addict they are guaranteed to relapse. And being on these medications does not make an addict clean. It may be part of a Recovery process and they may not be using their drug of choice but by no means are they clean. Clean is clean, not just clean from our favorite poison.

COLD TURKEY- What do I think about it? I LOVE IT!!! Of course if you asked me that during my first two weeks I would have said no. It is the most mentally and physically challenging way to get better but it is also the quickest way. If you have ever been locked up or to a detox, you know. I made it a choice to stop cold turkey. I knew the program I was going into didn’t have a medication administering system.

Is it safe to stop cold turkey? I have never heard of anyone dying from opiate/opioid withdrawals. Either has the program I was in. You just get dope sick and freak out for a few weeks. You can’t sleep, you get bicycle legs, diarrhea, hot and cold sweats, shivers, twitches, heart palpitations, skeletal pain, blurred vision; I mean there are more but you get the point. Stopping cold turkey on your own is extremely difficult. I think the statistics are one in a million and if you have done it, man, that’s awesome, I’d love to hear from you!

Stopping cold turkey while in a program is so beneficial. There are others to talk to, to relate with and counselors to consult with. There are classes and many opportunities to catch up on getting down to the nitty gritty on why you are in there.

What I liked about stopping cold turkey was realizing I needed to fill in a void. A void I have had for a very long time. I filled my void with God and came to an understanding that I need Him daily in order to stay clean. He is my lifestyle. I learned so much while I was in rehab and I am so thankful for the Salvation Army taking me in. Prayer and constant reading of my Bible gave me peace and an understanding along with the spiritual principles and knowledge I gained from the program I was in.

My recommendation as a recovered addict, addicted to opiates for 10 years, is to stay away from the pills that are only going to elongate your problem. Most likely the same company that made your poison is offering you the antidote . Does that sound right to you? Find treatment, a detox and a rehabilitation that administers spiritual principles rather than more drugs. Call upon God daily and accept His son Jesus into your life. I guarantee you will not only see what is really going on, you will become as grateful and hopeful as me and many other recovered addicts alike.

We were not designed to be on dangerous, mind altering substances which lead us to death. We were given this life to conquer it, not for it to conquer us. God gives us the strength to beat addiction and to overcome any obstacle life throws at us!

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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This was taken on December 29th at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots vs. the Buffalo Bills. It was pouring out but it was still exciting being in the crowd and watching two teams battle it out. Talk about strength in numbers.. there’s nothing like the incredible roaring sound of 70,000 people!

You may have heard the saying “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.”

It’s true, that is, if all the twigs are in good condition. If you have a bundle with most of the twigs rotted and deteriorated then this quote has no integrity. I mean, yes, even with weak twigs, the one twig will be stronger but eventually it too will be weakened. So to avoid destroying the single twig, a majority of the twigs used in the bundle must have strength in order to be used for its purpose.

In Recovery, especially in early recovery, we start gaining some strength. We start listening, learning and growing. We start going to meetings, we start surrounding ourselves with the right people and we start setting principles and boundaries that benefit us in many ways. We have the infatuation, the ‘Newly Wed’ syndrome, the ‘I got this’ attitude and man are we feeling like an indestructible, invincible suitcase of a million dollars.

This is a very delicate stage in our recovery. We are like a single twig with maybe a few other twigs but not yet a strong, mended bundle.

Six months go by, maybe even a year, and maybe even quite a few years go by and all of a sudden we look back and we have stopped doing what was making us strong. We stopped going to meetings and we stopped sharing. We stopped listening. We stopped being humble and teachable. Most of all we stopped being grateful for the things God blessed us with. We had become part of a bundle of strong and resilient twigs. Once with the know how and perseverance, once part of a community of believers fighting the same fight, in agreement, in harmony.

Now we are back to being a single twig. Battling a war against addiction all alone. Becoming lost and seeking advice and comfort elsewhere. Unprepared and lacking in strength, we make drastic decisions which alter our path. We are led astray and become uncomfortable with life. The blame and shame game is back to round one. Everything we learned seems to just be simmering on the backburner in our minds. We lose focus and start asking God why and how.

Then a little voice with a huge influence persuades us to make a phone call and take a ride… Fill in the blank, you know how it goes.

We may be born again, we may have 20 years under our belt, we may be stronger than ever and we may even have God right by our side but the war is never over. We may think it is sometimes but it is not. This is why we need Him on a daily basis.

The devil does not enjoy seeing us prosper. He doesn’t want us to succeed and become clean. He wants to destroy us and make us feel worthless and useless, without purpose.

Our strength comes from God and God alone. He uses others to strengthen us. He gives us people in our lives to make us whole. God gives us people to talk to, to share things with and to celebrate life with. He opens doors and opportunities for us. God has given me and you purpose and gifts to help others, to reach out, to become one in His name. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19,29

“Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.” Mark 6:7. Power in numbers? There sure is.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” 1 Corinthians 12:12

We were not created to battle life on our own, let alone Addiction. We were created to battle it together, side by side. We need each other for support and for encouragement. Keep persevering through God’s grace. Keep God first in all you do and become part of the bundle that when together is indestructible! And when God is with us, who can be against us?

There IS Strength in Numbers…
Become Free. Become the Difference!

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Looking out the window of my flight made me realize how minute my problems were and made me grateful to be able to do the things I can do. There are so many things to be grateful for being in Recovery. Not being ENABLED but being ABLE!

I had a chance to visit my brother and his family out in Nebraska this month. I was able to work and pay for the plane tickets. I was able to stay there for a week and spend quality time with my niece and 5 nephews! My brother and I went out to the shooting range, we cooked a 10 pound rib eye over an open fire, watched movies and played video games with his kids. I am very grateful for being able to do all these things with a clear mind and being able to be a good example of what an uncle is and how an uncle should act.

The other day I had a chance to talk to a man who was asking for money in front of a Starbucks. He was homeless and reeked of alcohol. His mission was to get as much money as he needed for whatever his intentions were. I pulled him aside and told him I was going to give him 20 bucks if he would hear me out first…

I was able to tell him that I was once where he was. That I used to be a drug addict and that I know what it’s like to struggle and be a bottom feeder. I was able to tell him that he doesn’t have to live like this. That it’s never too late to turn his life around; to get help and surround himself with productive people. I was able to tell him that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. That because of Him, I am able to persevere in His Grace and live a better life. I was able to receive a handshake and a hug from this stranger. I was also able to understand him and not judge him because I was once where he is standing.

I was able to go to my mother’s home for Christmas Eve. I was able to pick up my grandmother and give her a ride to my mother’s and actually show up on time! I was able to spend time with my other brother and his family there and to enjoy great food. I was grateful to be able to give gifts to everyone and grateful not having to show up empty handed because I had to feed an addiction.

I was able to spend time with my dad on Christmas. I was able to make a picture collage of his kids and grandkids all in one frame and able to accept a thank you when he saw it and grateful he enjoyed it. I was able to go see a movie and get some Chinese food with him and have a good time.

These days, I am able to do just about anything. I’m able to have relationships which were once broken. I’m able to help others in need. I’m able to discuss my past and use it to set a good example. I’m able to save money and use it wisely. I’m able to put gas in my truck, to go food shopping and to pay bills. I’m able to live a productive life, a responsible life; a new life from my addictive and destructive past.

Most of all, I am able, and grateful, to be able to trust myself in everything I do and to thank God daily to be under His Grace, to be able to have this freedom. My past is disgusting. It makes me sick when I think of my old lifestyle. The things I used to do, the people I used to hurt, in order to satisfy my addictive obsession and desires.

Being able to do all these things this year strengthens me and makes me extremely grateful for where I am. I am so grateful for a God who forgives and blesses in abundance to someone who does not deserve it, and as small and as little the things I do have, they all feel huge, powerful and meaningful.

I am able to write this, hoping it will help someone to see that when we live life according to the Word of God, we change, we become different people, we yearn to separate ourselves from a life without Him. We need to realize that our addictive nature is not our destined path, that we have it in us to become free from addiction, from ourselves, from our physical and mental anguish, that our mind and soul can rest in the hands of our Savior!

I hope you have a great Christmas with your family and friends. Celebrate and give thanks every day! 😀

We as addicts need to hear this. We like to blow up our war stories and make it sound like we were running a muck, but it isn’t about where we were, it’s about where we are today. In Recovery, we have a new life, our past is put behind us as we move forward. Being authentic and true to ourselves will only benefit us and keep us on a straight path. Yes, we may fall, but we have the One to call upon and lift us back up. And it’s nothing we have done and can take credit for, it’s by His grace we are saved. Being involved in a healthy church, hitting meetings and fellowshipping are all beneficial to a strong, active and flourishing Recovery. Become Free! Become the Difference!

Below is a blog called ‘Authenticity’ by Matt Chewning, Pastor at Netcast Church in Beverly, Ma. You can read the original ‘Authenticity’ blog and also get more information by visiting NetcastChurch.org

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Self-Glory Competition

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been the most competitive person I know. I hate losing, I hate it more than I love winning. Besides being born a sinner, I also was born into a family where this “competitive trait” drove us all. To this day there’s the constant competition over which family member has the most money, who has the biggest house or what married couple has the most sex; it can get awkward at times. In recent years, the Lord has begun to show me that entering into these conversations can be a form of self-glorification as I attempt to try and convince others that I’m better then I really am.

I’ve recently come to realize that this isn’t just a “Chewning Family” issue, but a massive disease that is spreading throughout evangelicalism. Actually, many of us were trained in self-glorification from the moment of salvation.

My Story

I was raised with no spiritual upbringing at all. My mom is a non-practicing Jew, my dad, a non-practicing Catholic and when I was 4 years old they divorced. My only memory of church growing up was being thrown out of a church basketball game because I kept using offensive language. After High School I was recruited to play basketball at a Christian college and decided to attend even though I knew nothing about Christianity. Within 2 months of being at school, a friend of mine, Ricky Grant, shared the gospel with me off campus and I immediately believed in Jesus and became a Christian.

On September 1, 2000, I walked back to my Christian campus as a new creation, saved by the blood of Jesus and immediately, self-glorification training began. Within hours of having my heart transformed by Jesus, I was told how a Christian should act and look. Christians don’t drink, curse, smoke, doubt, have sex before marriage, listen to Hip-Hop music or hit the clubs. Christians are people who abide by a specific life-style covenant and to disobey this lifestyle was to reveal that you must not actually be a Christian. So here I am, a new believer without a safe environment to authentically wrestle with the broken things that still exist in my heart, while also learning the expertise of self-glorification.

Today, almost 13 years after Jesus saved me, I am still in self-glorification recovery. And the more Christians I interact with the more I see how deeply rooted this sin of self glory actually is.

Being a Professional Disciple

As Christians, we love to over-exaggerate our spiritual walk, we hide the disfunction in our marriages and disguise our pain by quoting verses on joy. Sundays are the worst! We put on our Sunday’s best, grab our bibles, put on our smile, rehearse some big theological terms and head out the door. The only thing is that deep down, we feel like a fake, we have little worship, our marriages are messy and the kids are cute demons. Add to that, you’ve been so well trained in “fake humility and Christian culture”, that nobody knows how dysfunctional your heart is.

Developing Professional Disciples

To make matters worse, disciples are called to make disciples, leaders are called to multiply ourselves and sadly many of us are! We’re developing and deploying masked disciples who are incredible at hiding their sin, saying the right things and having no safe environment to wrestle with personal sin. To even consider it would be a form of weakness that we’re not willing to expose.

So, what’s the answer? If we are called to develop and deploy passionate worshippers of Jesus and be steadfast about developing and deploying passionate worshippers of Jesus, then how do we do this?

As a self-glory addict who is slowing walking through a season of recovery, I have found much hope in Romans 12:9 which tells me “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” If we are truly going to develop healthy disciples, we have to lead the way in authenticity rooted in the beauty of the gospel.

The Problem

If all of us, “fall short of the Glory of God” and “no one does good, not even one.” If all of us can have an “evil, unbelieving heart, leading us to fall away from the Living God” (Romans 3; Hebrews 3), than why pretend as if we don’t struggle with things like pride, lust, hatred or doubt? If the good news of the gospel is that we are so wicked in comparison to the incredible holiness of God, that our only hope would be that Christ would grant us His righteousness through the cross; than why minimize our need for the gospel by pretending we are more spiritual and godly than we actually are?

The Answer

The answer to this epic problem is the same answer to every epic problem; The Gospel. At some point we have to remember that Jesus is the only answer to the sin of our self-glory. Regardless of your title, training or education; Jesus is the only answer that won’t over-promise and under-deliver. In Jesus we are reminded that we all desperately need the gospel. We’re all sheep and He’s our Chief Shepherd. Other people may not know me, but the reality is that I am fully known by Jesus yet fully loved by Jesus.

My sin and brokenness which seems to weigh so heavily on me are tiny in comparison to the massiveness of His grace. The beauty and freedom of the Gospel is that I see the truth that “my God died for my imperfections, therefore I have no need to pretend to be perfect.”

Praise His Name!!