Most of us are addicted to something. Some of us are addicted to coffee. You Know You Are Drinking Too Much Coffee When … You answer the door before people knock. … You have converted your car's radiator so that you can brew a pot on the way to work. … Juan Valdez names his donkey after you. … You can play ping-pong without a partner. Your coffee filters are monogrammed. … You chew on other people's fingernails. Your eyes stay open even when you sneeze. … You can jump start your car without cables. … You can photograph yourself from ten feet away without using one of those timers. … You ski uphill.

The twelve-step program is an interesting program that started many years ago. It is a program that is right from the Bible. In many ways it is a discipleship program. People often think that when you become a Christian your problems disappear. That is a myth. When you receive Christ, your personality remains the same, your body remains the same, your bank account remains the same, your habits remain the same, your kids and spouse remain the same, and your friends remain the same. In a sense, we are all in a stage of recovery. You may not need this article, but perhaps you can use this information to help other people. Sometimes, we give harmful, unhelpful advice.

Two men in a bar noticed that another man kept falling off his stool. Apparently he was so drunk that he couldn't sit on his stool. Being good Samaritans they offered to take him home, dragging him to the door and placing him in the car. He fell down three times on the way to the car. When they got him to his house he fell down four times on the way to the door. They finally made it to the porch and rang the doorbell. When his wife answered the door, they told her they had brought her husband home. She said, "Great — where's his wheelchair?" That was unhelpful and harmful. They didn't know enough to help in the right way.

We cannot be the person God intended us to be unless we ask God to take control. In recovery, the word "real" comes before the word "heal." You have to face it before you fix it. Without facing it you will fake it. Faking it drains your energy, keeping you from facing it. Remember the prodigal son? He ran away before he came to his senses.

The twelve-step program is about coming to your senses. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you get on the elevator with someone who works on the twelfth floor and he pushes the tenth floor button every day, getting off and walking up two flights of stairs, you would say, "That's nuts." You need someone around who is willing to say, "That's nuts." That's like the man who mixes rum with coke and throws it up. Then he says, "There's something wrong with that coke." That's nuts.

Many families would rather look good than tell the truth. They fake it rather than trying to fix it. Most people who have self-destructive, negative behaviors continue these habits because the people around them allow it. They rescue them from the consequences they should suffer from irresponsible behavior. We have found that when people suffer the consequences enough, the pain draws them to the power. They are in so much pain that it drives them to change their lives. Honesty usually doesn't occur unless we experience the pain and hurt from our behavior.

I will take this a step further. During thousands of hours of counseling with hundreds of people, none has ever said, "I learned the easy way." They all said, "I learned the hard way." I think most of us learn the hard way. If it isn't hard, we can coast along with what we are doing. Experiencing pain drives us to the Power.

The prodigal son may never have returned to his father if he had not experienced the pain of eating with the pigs. His father could have rescued his son. He could have used his wealth. He could have created a job. He could have called on his friends. That would have been unhelpful, harmful help.

When I was in private practice, people would call from different parts of the country requesting that I see their son. "If I can just get my son to see you, he will quit drinking." I always told them, "Don't come, because he won't be helped." Families think that I can fix the problem. Guess what my success rate is with people like that? Zero. People don't change until they are ready to change. The Bible says that God can bring people back from the dead and they still won't believe.

You may be thinking, "How can I help?" The way to help is to let them live with the pigs. Breakthrough happens when breakdown occurs. One day, they will come to their senses and say, "I'm going home." When they do come home, decide to be the welcoming father and not the elder brother.

    About the Author

  • Charles Lowery