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FIRST-PERSON: A drug addict’s word is not his or her bond

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–Throughout the twenty-seven years of this ministry there have been thousands of addicted individuals and their loves ones who have cried out for the snake oil that would bring instant cure. To their dismay, we have had to inform them that there was no such miracle potion. At best, for the vast majority of hurting persons, the road to recovery is long and rocky.

The reason so many people hesitate to begin the treatment plans we recommend is that success will demand the payment of too high a price. Giving up the games that brought temporary good feelings will create a void for participants unless they realize from the beginning that the only viable plans have Jesus at the core.

The Jesus Way must replace the self-way, and this involves total surrender, not only to Jesus’ gift of salvation through the cross, but the acceptance of the Savior as Lord of life. This involves a personal commitment and a will to get well.

Soon after arrival at a Christ-centered treatment facility, there will be a flood of telephone calls back to significant others with complaints about the program and those who conduct it. Many are not yet ready to embark on a trip to permanent recovery and they do not make a true commitment to get fully well. They hope for temporary relief from bill collectors, family problems, and the law.

Those who truly love these beginners must turn deaf ears to the tears and complaints and insist that their loved one stay the course. The adjustment to a new lifestyle is bumpy the first few days.

Also, those who care for these hurting individuals must not believe all the promises made after the first days: the cries that “I’m cured already” or “I’ll never do it again; I’m ready to come home.”

A drug addict cannot be trusted. His word is not his bond. He is a prisoner of the drug world ruled over by Satan.

Recently a long-term participant in such programs refused to take a drug test just one week before graduation. In a telephone conversation in which he bemoaned the fact that those in charge would not trust him, he announced to us that he was leaving the program at the last moment, rather than take the drug test. We wanted to believe that he was “clean,” but knew better than to deceive ourselves. Trust is something that you earn. And he had not yet earned that trust!

We repeat our belief that tough love does work best. We should never stop loving and encouraging those who hurt, but these individuals are not, in the early days of treatment, capable of making rational decisions or plans. They need Christian leaders and mentors who are devoted to doing what is best for the addict. This will not usually be what makes him “feel good,” but the long term results of such leadership will pay huge dividends.
Ted Stone and Philip Barber are Southern Baptist speakers and writers on the subject of drug abuse. Contact them through Ted Stone Ministries, P.O. Box 1397, Durham, N.C., 27702, or at (919) 477-1581.

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