I didn’t come from a broken home. While my parents did not teach me about Jesus, they were still very loving and cared for my needs as a child. In spite of that, I was still introduced to drugs at a very young age. Throughout my teenage years, my drug use was off and on, but by my 20’s, I became full-blown addict.
For over ten years, I experienced the horrible consequences of chemical addiction. My relationships with my family, friends, and girlfriends shattered. I lost jobs and broke the law and experienced legal ramifications. My finances were terrible. I was addicted to pornography. I had two suicide attempts. I was in and out of emergency rooms and treatment centers. I had no relationship with God.
Between 1997 and 2003 I went to rehab at seven different treatment centers. Until the last one, I never experienced more than 5.5 months of sobriety, but on February 19th of 2003, I finally surrendered. I admitted that, in my own power, my life was unmanageable. Like Step 1 says, “We admit we are powerless over our addictions, brokenness, and sinful patterns – that in our own power our lives are unmanageable.” It was only then that my life started to change.
After all that time in rehab, I came away understanding five things about the process:
- There are certainly benefits to rehab. Rehab removed me from unhealthy environments. It offered a safe place for me to begin to form new habits rather than rely 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.
- Rehab alone won’t keep you sober. The good things I learned in a controlled environment didn’t always translate into daily living in the uncontrolled environment of the real world.
- Rehab doesn’t make you reach your “bottom.” I wasn’t truly ready to be well until I was ready to surrender to God. Surrender is a issue of the heart, not one dependent on environment or treatment.
- Many treatment centers or 12 step programs fail to address the real problem without Christ. It wasn’t better friends, better boundaries, or better habits that sobered me up. I had a heart problem. Until my heart was broken and surrendered to Jesus, all treatment eventually failed me. I needed a new heart with new desires.
- Only Jesus Christ can give you a new heart. The Bible tells us that when we are in Christ, we are made new.
“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.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
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 women, money, people pleasing, fear, etc. All these things left me feeling empty.
I discovered that I had God-shaped hole in my heart that only He could fill. When I turned my life over to Christ, began to read the Bible, and allowed godly men to speak into my life, my heart began to change. Today, I know that a peace that surpasses all understanding is one of His gifts to me (Philippians 4:7). This is not because my life is perfect, but because Jesus is perfect. Freedom in Him means so much more than only sobriety from my addiction.
So, regarding rehab, sometimes treatment centers will provide a healthy environment for surrender to Christ. Other times, they will not. However, 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 that matters, but rather, it is the one to whom you surrender that makes all the difference.
- Marcello U.