My Take on Addictions

Written by admin on Feb 09, 2018 in - No Comments

Just over six months ago our grandson died of an opioid overdose.  It was intentional.  Others in our congregation, some of our Pantry guests and friends in the community are dealing with the same issue.  What’s to be said–or done about it?

While psychological, social, spiritual, economic, medical and criminal factors all play a role, from my perspective addressing it as a criminal   problem is  the least helpful.  My grandson would probably be alive today if he had not been confronted as a criminal and threatened with jail time to induce him to become an informant.  However, to see him simply as a   victim,  strips him of his dignity as a responsible human being.  He made choices that led him to this place.

So if my grandson is not simply a criminal or a victim, what are we to learn from his life–and death?  First, addiction is no respecter of persons.  I’ve known upstanding church people, leaders, who have struggled with addiction.  Some, successfully; some, not.  So to admit that we could become or might be addicted keeps us from feeling morally superior.  Our addiction may simply be more hidden and subtle than the abuse of meth, alcohol or heroin.  Paul says, with good reason, that we are all sinners.

Second, my grandson’s case reminds me of something I heard from a Salvation Army addiction counselor years ago.  He said that earlier, the Army’s position on relapse was, “Three times and you’re out!”  Now, their position had changed to, “A day free from addiction is a day to be cherished.”  In other words, recovery is never guaranteed. We are all on journeys  which come with detours and dead ends requiring turnarounds.   When that’s clear,  we’ll be able to offer empathy to our fellow travelers.  As twelve-step participants announce at every meeting,” I’m a recovering,” not a ‘recovered’ addict.

More could be said, but for now let me conclude with this:  The distinction between the Church and the World is blurry at best.  Some Colony Mennonites left Canada for Mexico and Bolivia many years ago to keep themselves ‘unspotted from the world’, only to discover that they had carried the ‘world’ with them, including substance abuse.  We hold our faith in ‘earthen vessels’.  Modesty and humility about our Christian virtue is probably in order.

David Ewert