recovery in Christ when life is broken

Do Rehabs Work?

When I was asked to write on this subject, I had mixed emotions. Then, I thought, “Well, I do have a lot to write on that subject. I have been to seven treatment centers!” 


My Past:

I didn’t come from a broken home. Though my parents did not teach me the ways of the Lord, they were certainly loving and cared for my needs as a child. However, I got introduced to drugs at a very young age. My drug use was off and on through my teenage years, but I became full-blown addict in my 20’s. For over ten years, I experienced many horrible consequences of chemical addiction. I had no relationship with God. My relationships with my family, friends, and girlfriends were shattered. I lost jobs. I broke the law and experienced legal consequences. My finances were terrible. I became addicted to pornography. I had two suicide attempts. I was in and out of emergency rooms and treatment centers…And I could go on


What happened?

Between 1997 and 2003 I went to seven treatment centers. Until the last one, I never experienced more than 5.5 months of ‘sobriety,’ but on February 19th of 2003, I surrendered. I admitted that in my own power, my life was unmanageable. Step 1, Admit says, “WE ADMIT WE ARE POWERLESS OVER OUR ADDICTIONS, BROKENNESS AND SINFUL PATTERNS - THAT IN OUR OWN POWER OUR LIVES ARE UNMANAGEABLE.”


What I learned:

  1. There are certainly benefits to a treatment center. Treatment centers removed me from unhealthy environments. It offered a safe place for me to begin to form new habits rather than relying on drugs. It stabilized my eating, sleeping, and working patterns. It allowed me to build friendships with others trying to get well. It helped me establish boundaries for healthy living.
  2. Treatment centers do not keep you sober. I went to seven of them. The last treatment center kicked me out. The good things I learned in a controlled environment didn’t always translate into daily living in an uncontrolled environment in the real world.
  3. Treatment centers don’t make you reach your “bottom.” I wasn’t ready to be well until I was ready to surrender to God. Surrender is a heart issue, not an environment or treatment issue.
  4. Many treatment centers or 12 step programs without Christ, fail to address the real problem. It wasn’t better friends, better boundaries, better habits that sobered me up. I had a heart problem. My purpose was to serve my own desires. Until my heart was broken and turned to the only one who could cure it, Jesus Christ, all treatment failed me. I needed a new heart with new desires.
  5. Only Jesus Christ can give you a new heart and new spirit.
    Ezekiel 36:26, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

  2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;   the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.


When I arrived back in Dallas in 2008, I began to see the deeper issues that were hiding in my heart. Though I wasn’t taking drugs, I was still overwhelmed by problems with girls, money, people pleasing, fears, etc. All these things left me feeling empty, too. I discovered that I had God shaped hole in my heart that only He could fill. As I turned my life over to Christ, began to read and understand the Bible, and allowed godly men to speak into my life, something radically changed for me—you guessed it, my heart. Today, the peace that surpasses all understanding is one of His gifts…not because my life is perfect, but because Jesus is perfect and He lives in my heart. Freedom in Christ is so much more than sobriety from my addiction. True freedom comes from a relationship with Christ and affects every area of life.


Sometimes, treatment centers provide a healthy environment for surrender to Christ, other times, they do not. But, any treatment without Christ at its center is just a Band-Aid for a mortal wound. Christ wants you to experience the fullness of a new life through a relationship with Him. It’s not where you surrender your heart to Christ that matters, but rather, it is the one to whom you surrender that makes all the difference.

-Marcello U.


For more information on Substance Abuse visit the Struggles section of our website.

Why can’t I stop drinking? Is alcohol really my problem?

Drinking. That was my problem. Every time I took a drink (and really, this time I was going to have just one), disaster occurred.


For starters, one drink turned into multiples. I “drunk dialed” people I knew. I “drunk dialed” people I didn’t know (think prominent Christian speaker Beth Moore, for one). I wrecked seven cars, ended up in treatment five times and jail twice. Everyone agreed. Drinking was my problem.


In spite of my countless efforts to “just stop it,” as plenty of friends and family recommended, I couldn’t “stay stopped.”  And over time, I came to see the truth: drinking wasn’t really the problem. Oh, it looked like the problem. Outer manifestations of inner issues usually look like the problem. In fact, others around us are often so concerned with our actions that they say things like, “Shape up. Stop lying. Start smiling.” In other words, try harder.


Occasionally that worked for periods of time, but after repeated relapses, it became painfully clear that behavior modification merely deals with the visible symptom. At times a healthy chemical detox is necessary for those with chemical dependencies, but that is not where recovery stops. We’ve all got a spiritual hole, a soul sickness that compels us to seek temporary relief until we come face to face with the root cause. Until we know what that really is, we cannot fully repent and turn to go the other way. As long as I thought drinking was the problem, I could white knuckle it and turn from that. But the next layer – whether fear, insecurity or approval of man – would draw me right back to the familiar coping mechanism. I learned through pain (and equal amounts of humiliation) that treating the symptom only brings temporary relief.  


What do you perceive as your greatest struggle right now? Are you willing to consider that what you think is your nemesis is but a symptom—that your real struggle may be a worship problem? Christ has the power to transform – not just remove the symptoms but to change you from the inside out.


While I haven’t had a drink in many years, those core issues are ones that I bring to the Savior daily. If I don’t come before Him with my fear, pride, and dishonesty, those old “band-aids” of coping could entice me once again.   


Recovery is so very daily. And yet, as I surrender my regrets of the past and fears of the future, my heart changes. Exhaustion and failure are replaced by peace. And actions change too.


We get it backwards, attempting to change actions and hoping our heart will catch up. God changes us from the inside out.


When hearts change, actions follow.

-Joy K.


Key Scripture: Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

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recovery in Christ when life is broken.