Coming to the End of Oneself
Recently I participated in a webinar on collaborating with other programs and agencies in a multidisciplinary approach to recovery from substance use and addiction. It was a well done professional webinar on building a care team. It listed various collaborative partners in a “holistic” approach to recovery. Recommended agencies included child care services, vocational services, mental health services, medical services, educational services, AIDS/HIV services, legal services, financial services, housing and transportation services, and family services. Recommended personnel included addiction counselors, psychiatrists, medical primary providers, nurses, mental health counselors, psychologists, peer recovery specialists, vocational counselors, case managers, family therapists, vocational specialists, educational specialists, legal representatives, and program alumni.
Who’s missing from this “holistic” formula?
Then today I was asked to participate in a doctoral student’s survey on methodologies for recovery. It included all the standard psychological approaches- cognitive behavioral, reality, solution-focused, abstinence, harm-reduction, and a multitude of others – all except one that I could think of.
Can you guess which one that would be?
Spiritual formation or characterological transformation or values modification are terms that might be used to describe one of the acknowledged methodologies or strategies for addiction recovery. Yet this is given almost no place at the table in most addiction recovery methodology considerations, as I am seeing. Many people will attest to the fact that they could not have achieved victory over addictive behavior without having a fundamental transformation of mind and heart, of will and passions, that came through a faith commitment. Spirituality is again and again cited in surveys as one of the primary forces that led to success in recovery.
Yet, in many regimens that one sees described, the only place given to spiritual formation or a spiritual community’s role in recovery is in the aftercare element of “supportive community” development. And it does have a valuable role in the long-term maintenance of recovery for many people. But I maintain that the transformational process that can assure a solid foundation for real and sustained recovery is predicated on the examination of and establishment of strong internal values that often find themselves rooted in a spiritual formation process.
That is where a program like Titus 2 Partnership, Inc. can be useful, especially for individuals for whom other efforts at recovery have failed. When individuals come to the “end of themselves” and have exhausted all efforts at self-will and quick fixes, they will often then give themselves over to a faith-founded effort. It is only in surrendering one’s own will entirely that true victory can be attained.
This is not a quick fix. It requires a commitment to a changed way of life. Some will be ready for it. Others will not. The degree of brokenness or sense of desperation that one brings to the process is generally the determining factor in whether or not one will embrace and persevere through such a process. Also, some prior exposure to spiritual formation through participation in a church or experience with biblical literacy is useful in having the ability to recognize the value in such an approach.
This is the premise under which we begin ministry with women with life dysfunction. Are they broken? Have they had enough of the chaos? Are they ready for a truly transformational process that can restore hope, peace, contentment, and order to their lives? Or, as Jesus said, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:16)