A Note from Kelly King: Ongoing contributor Deb Douglas addresses an issue that has probably touched the majority of our readership. Whether you have faced the personal struggle of an addiction or someone in your family has, ministry leaders must be prepared to offer guidance. If you are looking for helpful resource, consider purchasing Women Reaching Women in Crisis.
I’m wading into very sensitive, emotionally charged waters.
A glass of wine will not send you to hell. A social media picture doesn’t condemn. But there is a reality. Alcohol is a problem, and it’s a messy problem.
You might be picturing me as a judgmental, Bible-thumping-temperance-movement-activist of the 1920s. Prohibition isn’t where I am going with this. It’s something messier and more common in today’s world.
It’s the silent addictions hidden in homes.
It’s a woman beginning with a sip and a painting or a causal relaxation drink. Then gradually she becomes dependent on that sip and on that drink in order to relax and chill out. It’s when stress-induced drinking slides into stressful drinking problems.
What does alcoholism look like in women?
Is it a homeless woman with a bottle wrapped in brown paper in a downtown doorway? Not necessarily.
- It’s the Sunday school teacher who gets pulled over with a DUI.
- It’s the woman who blacks out when one drinks becomes 10 or 20 or more.
- It’s the mom who cannot make it through work, afternoon activities, dinner, and homework without a drink or two every day.
- It’s addiction that is rationalized as being socially acceptable, but in the quiet of home—in the darkness—it is taking over. And all of a sudden it is not so acceptable. It’s a life-crippling problem.
- It’s the church lady who calls in a panic because she made a very bad choice (insert the word “sinned”) while “accidentally” drunk. It started with one drink with friends that became a few too many. Now she’s worried about the life-altering consequences that will affect her family.
Alcoholism is messy, and it is in every church whether the church is a member of a non-drinking convention or a convention of a more reformed outlook. Alcoholism never impacts just one person. It impacts entire families.
What is a woman with an alcohol problem to do?
She is probably embarrassed by her problem, fearful of being judged, and feeling guilty over how her problem has become her family’s problem. But she can:
- Become a part of Celebrate Recovery or another 12-step program.
- Find a counselor or minister she is comfortable talking with to explore the roots of her problem.
- Tell someone—a friend, a minister, or even a stranger.
What’s our role as leaders, friends, and family members?
- Pray for her.
- Lovingly confront her.
- Encourage her along the path to sobriety.
Be brave enough to reach out to a woman in a messy situation before things 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.