Much of our attention these days is focused on the proliferation of opioids and especially drugs like the incredibly powerful and deadly Fentanyl.
We ask ourselves if building a huge wall on our southern border to keep the drugs out is a good idea and whether we are better off investing more in helping people get over their addictions and build lives of purpose and faith.
Many are skeptical about the potential effectiveness of a wall of the contemplated magnitude and inclined to focus more on reducing the demand for drugs by promoting the many virtues of sobriety.
America tried Prohibition in the 1920’s. It didn’t work, and the law was repealed in 1934.
More important, we believe, is to persuade people that they will live much longer and happier lives by avoiding drugs and then helping them develop the resources in individual communities to overcome their addictions and promote stronger families and better jobs.
With this in mind, I wrote and published a book about addiction and recovery five years ago which has been available to readers on Amazon. Over the past three months I have updated it and arranged to e-mail it free to those who request it.
The joy of recovery
My book is mainly about people who have experienced the blessings and joy of recovery from their addictions, how they did it, and how you can do it. My purpose is to give you hope and encouragement. The rest is up to you.
You will also find my own story of recovery, the one I tell at 12-Step meetings, in the Appendix.
I hope you will conclude when you read it that, “If this guy can do it, I can, too.”
There are also nineteen chapters in the book that will help you better understand the resources available to you. There are chapters, for example, on people who are especially susceptible to drug abuse—adolescents, veterans, and prison inmates—and about successful recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and Celebrate Recovery.
I call these chapters “Pathways to Serenity” in the title of the book and emphasize taking it no more than “one day at a time,” a vital key to recovery.
The photo on the front cover of my wife and me is meant to reassure those who seek recovery that there can be happiness after you drop the alcohol, drugs, or other addictions. And there will be moments of serenity, but not every moment. That’s where the “one day at a time” comes in. It is a vital concept.
The stories about people and programs are snapshots. People and programs change; some in recovery have slips and may never come back, while others succeed.
This, then, is a freeze frame of people dealing effectively with their addictions through programs that work. We must remember that they are contending with an adversary— addiction—which chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes as “cunning, baffling and powerful.” Many, regrettably, will not make it.
Of the many courageous people introduced to you in this book, we can only say with some assurance that they were clean and sober when we spoke to them.
Before we get into the details of recovery, it is useful to study the reason some of us seem willing to destroy our lives and families with substances that will guarantee, if continued, the loss of all our money, family, friends and sooner, rather than later, our lives.
Theories about the cause of our addictions and, for that matter, other self-destructive behaviors abound, and Dr. Robert Lewis, a co-founder of Little Rock’s Fellowship Bible Church (with Bill Parkinson and Bill Wellons) provides illumination.
Dr. Lewis, a founder of the international Men’s Fraternity, author of half a dozen books and marriage counselor to many, including my wife and me, explains where we have fallen short in our search for the truth about ourselves.
“A survey of some of the most common answers about what’s wrong with us,” Dr. Lewis says, “reveals that we have bought into a set of half truths—answers that have some validity to them but are inadequate as to full explanations of the human condition.
“Poor self esteem: This theory explains humanity’s problems like this: “the problem with people is not that they are bad but rather that they think badly of themselves.
“Others are to blame: the problem isn’t me it’s you. Men in particular are prone to this excuse. They say if my wife was just better or if my job were just more fulfilling, I could get things right.
“Lack of education: somewhere in the past we began to assume that if we were all educated enough our society’s problems would be eliminated. But now that we’re more educated than ever before in history are we doing any better?
“Defective genes-on this view of our problems can be traced to genetic issues, “Its’ not my fault that I do bad things—my genes make we do these things.”
A step toward the whole truth
“There is something deeper and more profoundly wrong with the human race,” Dr. Lewis says, referring to the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans in the depths of his struggle.
“I do not understand what I am doing because I do not practice what I want to do but I do what I hate…I know that nothing good lives in me but there is no ability to not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. What a wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death.” Romans 7:15, 18-19, 24.
What Paul describes in this verse is the deeper problem with the human race: the heart wound. It is a wound every one of us has.
My book is mainly about people who have experienced the blessings and joy of recovery from their addictions, how they did it, and how you can do it. My purpose is to give you hope and encouragement. The rest is up to you. In remember. It’s one day at a time.
The photo on the book’s front cover of my wife and me is meant to reassure those who seek recovery that there can be happiness after you drop the alcohol, drugs, or other addictions. And there will be moments of serenity, but not every moment. That’s where the “one day at a time” comes in.
The stories about people and programs are snapshots. People and programs change; some in recovery have slips and may never come back, while others succeed. It is also true that some programs succeed while others fade away. That’s life, and readers must take this into account in charting their own recovery.
The book, then, is a freeze frame of people dealing effectively with their addictions through programs that work. They are contending with an adversary— addiction—which chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous describes as “cunning, baffling and powerful.” Many, regrettably, will not make it.
Of the many courageous people introduced to you in Pathways to Serenity, we can only say with some assurance that they were clean and sober when we spoke to them.
Perhaps you or someone close to you has an alcohol or other drug problem such as heroin, cocaine, meth or Fentanyl addictions. Or perhaps your spouse or your children or even your grandchildren have a drug problem that does nothing but get worse and seems to defy successful treatment.
As part of our mission to help as many people as possible overcome their addictions we hope you will accept a free copy of Pathways to Serenity as our gift to you. Go to www.onedayatatime.com/book. And feel free to send it to a family member or friend.
As we stated at the outset, our mission in Little Rock and in each community we may serve is to reduce levels of substance abuse by providing information on addiction recovery and ultimately on providing individual treatment plans through a local organization called the “Roundtable.”
Members of the “Little Rock Roundtable” as we envision it, will represent churches, hospitals, schools, businesses, prison systems, veterans groups, lawyers, legislators and others. Some will be in recovery themselves.
The principal treatment components of the Roundtable include:
- Mental health evaluation and treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD and other conditions.
- Addiction treatment for those struggling with alcohol, opioids, heroin and other drugs through 12 Step programs as well as psychiatric care provided on both an outpatient and inpatient basis.
- Faith based programs offered primarily by Christian evangelical churches and other organizations such as the Salvation Army and Union Rescue Mission, both founded more than a century ago.
- Physical fitness regimens provided by local gymnasiums and through the development of programs for home use.
- Employment programs developed by local businesses for the jobless.
Little Rock’s assets include excellent hospitals (dealing with both mental health and drug addiction problems), community-focused and entrepreneurial churches, traditional 12 step programs and a history of proactively dealing with addictions dating back to 1940, five years after the founding of AA in Akron, Ohio.
Our work on developing the Roundtable is just beginning