A Note from Chris Adams: This week Dr. Deb Douglas, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA, helps leaders face women dealing with addictions. All of us deal with minor addictions while others also deal with major addictions that negatively shape their lives and the lives of those around them.
I am addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper. Judge me if you must and shun me for being “out of the know” on scientific facts, but the reality is I love an icy Diet Dr. Pepper. While I may justify my addiction as being nothing compared with other types of addictions, it is an addiction.
The reality is we all have addictions, good and bad. Addicted to the gym? Addicted to being skinny? Addicted to looking perfect? Addicted to not letting anyone truly know us? Addicted to a little cold medicine to help us sleep?
There are all kinds of addicts. Some addictions are a little messier than others and cause the people around us to be harmed in long-term ways. Alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, pornography, and sex are just the beginning of a long list of addictions, each with challenges.
As I chat with women, I hear stories of destruction, denial, depression, and despondence, all with addiction at the core. My heart is heavy for women wearing the chains of addiction. Women who have lost everything but the ability to breathe and are clueless as to what is next. Women who cannot see the hope that can rescue them and give them a new life, piece by piece.
What do I say to woman in the midst of addiction?
- Addictions lie to us and tell us we are in control. We are not.
- Addictions delude us into thinking we are the only ones hurt by addiction. We are not.
- Addictions give us false pride and convince us that programs won’t work for us; they are for those other people with messier lives. The reality: programs work.
- Know where Celebrate Recovery groups meet nearby. Celebrate Recovery programs have groups for a wide array of addictions and life challenges.
- Investigate other recovery programs and ministries.
- Addictions tease us into believing we can cure ourselves. With God’s help, addictions can be overcome.
- Addictions are not the rest of the story. There is hope.
Here’s what I don’t do when someone has an addiction:
- I do not talk to someone when they are high or intoxicated. Why? Because things said will be remembered out of context if at all. Recently, a woman with an addiction to illegal drugs asked me how I knew she was high because she wrongly thought she covered her usage well. The answer: she quotes Scripture more often when she is high! Her behavior is markedly changed.
- I do not let someone who appears to be high drive. A designated driver is called for in this situation.
- I do not agree to continue to meet with someone unless they are in a recovery program. I recognize that talking with me will not cure their addiction! Help is needed.
- I do not give up. I have seen women victoriously struggle with cravings, fight against the desire to give in, and wrestle through withdrawal as they waited for God to work in their lives, to give them the strength to face down the addiction.
The most effective thing I can do to help a person with an addiction is to pray! God can do amazing miracles! I also enlist others to pray anonymously for the person. Addictions cause messy lives, but even through the messiness, God is at work!
Next week, I will be writing about how to help women who have people with addictions in their families. That’s where things can get even messier.
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.