recovery in Christ when life is broken

How To Get Sober From An Addiction To… Porn, Drugs, Pills, Alcohol, Sex, Gambling, et al.

Walking into my first recovery meeting, I thought, “This is worthless. I don’t need a meeting with a bunch of quasi-ex-addicts telling old war stories about their binges. I need serious help…I need to get free from alcoholism and a meeting like this isn’t helping.”

Do you know what? I was right. 90 meetings in 90 days doesn’t get you sober…it might be of short-term help because it’s not 90 days in 90 bars, but 90 meetings won’t change your life long-term. How can I say that? Because the root problem isn’t where you spend your time or even what you put in your body; the root problem is spiritual. Whether you’re reading the Big Book or the Bible, both say the same: God alone gets you sober and keeps you sober (don’t be surprised they say the same thing…AA originated as a Bible Study). As it’s been said, “Alcohol wasn’t my problem; it was my solution.” Alcohol, pills, sex, porn, gambling, etc. is just the numbing solution to inner spiritual pain.

When I began recovery, I couldn’t imagine staying sober a week, let alone a month. I didn’t want to be sober and I didn’t know how to live without alcohol. What would I do after work? At a wedding? On vacation? On weekends? I didn’t have a category for life without my drug of choice because it had become central to every area of my life.

A guy who I had known for all of 5 minutes at that first meeting asked me, “Will you commit, by God’s strength, to staying sober for the next 24 hours?” I said, “Charlie, you don’t understand…I can go one day without drinking, but I need serious long-term help.” He said, “Don’t worry about that. Will you go 24 hours, by God’s strength? Don’t do it on your own; it has to be by God’s strength.” “Fine,” I said. “Good,” he replied, “call me this time tomorrow and let me know how you did.”

“Hey Charlie. Sober 24 hours.”

“By God’s strength?”

“Yes.”

“Want to go another 24?”

“Fine, but…”

“But nothing. Want to go another 24?”

“Yes.”

Another day passed.

“Hey Charlie. Sober 24 hours.”

Why do I tell you all that? Because that question, is what I’ve been asking myself daily for the last 10 years. Since that night on December 27th, 2005, and I haven’t had a drink.

So what made 24 hours seem so easy to say yes to and what made the thought of staying sober for a year, let alone 10, seem so impossible? The answer again is God.

And after 12 years of alcoholism, 24 hours of sobriety turned into a week, turned into a month, turned into three months, turned into a year, turned into 10 years. I never dreamed I could be sober 10 years…and the truth is, I couldn’t on my own. But, by walking with God daily, surrendering each day to Him, I could be sober one day at a time… for 10 years (3650 days).

Many of us trapped in addiction or harmful habits have tried quitting or making resolutions (Have you already relapsed from your New Year’s resolution?), but those attempts failed in frustration. But, what if, by God’s strength, you could stay sober for 24 hours? Just one day. Don’t worry about a year from now or the rest of your life – just 24 hours. Could you do that?

We believe that with God’s help, anyone with any addiction could stay sober for 24 hours. Soon 24 hour periods will string together to make a week, then a month and then years. But no single 24 hour commitment can be done apart from God. Jesus tells us to seek God and his will – only for today – and not to worry about tomorrow. God’s solution for us is walking with him one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow – just seek him and his will for 24 hours.

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6.33-34)

So what do you think? By God’s strength, will you commit to staying sober for the next 24 hours?

If the answer is yes, call a trusted friend and tell him or her that by God’s strength you are committing to staying sober for the next 24 hours. Ask that person to pray for you and then report back after the 24 hours is complete. Make this a daily practice as you seek God and his will…this is accountability.

And then you might pray: “God, please keep me sober for the next 24 hours by your perfect strength. Teach me to seek you and your will today. Thank you for helping me.”

-John E.

How do I know if I’m addicted to porn, alcohol, drugs, pills, sex, relationships, work, gambling, my phone, food, love, shopping, etc.?

 I googled this question on December 22nd, 2005 – and God used it to save my life. Literally.

What could be life-saving about this question? Because, if you don’t know and admit you’re addicted, you won’t get help. Things may even get worse before they get any better. That was my story.

People used to tell me, “I think you might have a drinking problem.” I would quickly snap back, “Are you kidding me? We were drinking together!” They would reason, “Yeah, but it’s different with you.” They were right, but I wasn’t ready to admit it. It was different with me…I drank scotch out of a coffee mug some mornings to hide my drinking. I would sneak drinks before dinners to appear like I was on pace with everyone else, when I was already multiple drinks into the night. I would drink until it was gone or I was gone. I would drink alone, and often preferred to do so, because no one would monitor the volume. Until I was ready to acknowledge my addiction, I wasn’t about to address it or seek to change. Thankfully, after a family intervention in 2005, I googled “How do you know if you’re an alcoholic?” and ended up “acing” the test that popped up from Alcoholics Anonymous.

In that moment, I didn’t feel sad, let down, disappointed, or ashamed…I felt relieved. It was as if I had this nagging, aching pain all of my life and finally a doctor told me I had cancer. There was shock and sadness that things would never be the same, but at least I knew the truth. “This finally makes sense,” I thought. Now, I could start addressing the illness and seek healing.

In reality, most of us don’t seek healing until we admit there is a problem. My hope today is that you’ll better understand your problem so that if you’re hurting…if you’re addicted…you can begin to seek help for healing.

Answer the following twelve questions and then we’ll talk next steps:

  1. Do your family and friends think you have a problem with _______? Yes or No
  2. Do you hide and lie about _____ to protect it and enjoy it although you know others wouldn’t approve? Yes or No
  3. Have you ever missed work or events because of _______? Yes or No
  4. Have you ever tried to stop _______ and find that you can’t go more than a week or two? Yes or No
  5. Has _______ caused relational, financial, marital, occupational, spiritual trouble in your life? Yes or No
  6. Do you find yourself daydreaming and planning your next use of _____? Yes or No
  7. Does _______ make you feel ashamed and yet you continue to do it? Yes or No
  8. Are you afraid that if someone knew the extent of your use of ______ it would be taken away? Yes or No
  9. Is ______ a main priority in your life (when you consider the amount of time/money/thought/energy spent on it)? Yes or No
  10. Is it hard to imagine your life without ________ in it? Yes or No
  11. Are other things in your life (relationships, work productivity, health) are starting to drop-off because _______ is getting more of your time/energy? Yes or No
  12. Do you engage in _______ alone so that no one will trouble you about it and you’d rather do it alone anyway? Yes or No

Now count up how many “YES” responses you gave.

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, our experience tells us that you may be struggling with addiction or close to becoming addicted. And, we often find that if people answer yes to one, they answer yes to many. Addiction creeps into every area of life.

BUT…THERE IS HOPE.

I didn’t know it back then, but alcohol wasn’t my problem…alcohol was my solution. It was my coping mechanism for the pains of life. I used it when I was lonely, tired, bored, angry, stressed…any reason really. It was my default; my go-to.

When I admitted I couldn’t get free on my own, that I was addicted to a poisonous solution, I cried out to God. I asked God to free me and give me a new life. I started walking daily with others who were trying to get free of their addictions. God became the person, the solution, that I went to when I was struggling with life. God responded to my request by flooding my life with peace, joy, purpose and freedom.

You don’t have to go through life addicted. Jesus came to set you free and give you a new life. Not a better or improved life; a new life. And who wouldn’t want that?!

Watch this video on Step 1 “Admit” to learn more about freedom!

-John E.

recovery in Christ when life is broken.