Addiction. What is it? A disease? A choice? Is recovery possible? So many questions plague the minds and hearts of individuals and their loved ones as they battle a cunning enemy of life called addiction. One addict said, “It’s like being in a dungeon–a filthy, dark, scary place where the gloom of death hovers over you.”
As I write this blog I reflect on my own story. When I was 16 years old and in my first year of college, I had ambitions of becoming an attorney and a civil rights advocate. Although I was highly motivated by an overwhelming compassion to help others, I was blindsided by life circumstances at the start of my sophomore year. My world was turned upside down by the sudden suicide death of my 23-year-old brother.
Stricken with grief, less than two months later I was a victim of a sexual assault. This was more than my young soul could handle. Temptations were always before me and seemed more inviting than the alternative of mental health medications to cope with the severe depression. I began to self-medicate with marijuana. Not only did I continue using despite negative consequences, including a severe decline in my academics, but my dreams and ambitions in life were abandoned.
Would I have chosen this path? Absolutely not, but I couldn’t stop. I lost the power to choose, and inevitably, after numerous years passed by, my life spiraled out of control. My story is not unique. Tragedy and trauma are commonly the core issues underlying substance abuse. By the age of 30 I could no longer function in my addiction, and my marijuana use escalated to cocaine and other drugs. Over the years, I had bouts of successes (career, material possessions) as some would define success, but the very essence of who God created me to be was lost.
Death was a welcoming notion. More than 90% of people who fall victim to suicide suffer from depression and/or substance abuse disorder. However, recovery is possible. In retrospect, God did for me what I could not do for myself. He allowed me to live and get the help I so desperately needed to combat addiction. Since addiction doesn’t happen overnight, neither does the recovery process. A long-term, residential program is what I needed to address the underlying core issues of my addiction and resume a purpose-driven life.
Miracle Hill Ministries offers two residential recovery programs, Renewal for women and Overcomers for men. Each year the Renewal program serves approximately 90 women, providing a place for healing, education, life planning and transformation. When a woman enters the Renewal Program she is broken, lost, ashamed and desperately seeking a changed life. Change can be temporary, but transformation is eternal. Miracle Hill Renewal Center offers a recipe for the latter.
Using a Christ-Centered approach, highly skilled certified counselors develop an individual goal plan with each program guest. There are four levels to the program’s design: (1) Building a spiritual foundation, (2) Addressing areas of personal hurt, (3) Developing healthy relationships, (4) Employment readiness and life planning with relapse prevention
Renewal uses a biblical adaptation of The 12 Steps. Substance abuse education, relapse prevention, life skills, inner healing, cultivating healthy relationships, Christian discipleship, cognitive functioning, sexual purity, domestic violence recovery, abortion recovery, career development and employment readiness are just some of the focused areas provided on a daily basis over a minimum of six months.
Yes…we do recover. Learning and applying biblical principles in a residential community allows the opportunity to replace self-defeating behaviors with positive, rewarding and successful patterns of thinking, resulting in healthy living. When our thinking changes our behavior will follow. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” When the substances are no longer consumed, the brain begins to heal, and with a structured environment conducive to recovery and healthy living, the cycle of addiction is broken. Incorporating healthy living skills into your life over an extended period of time is like riding a bicycle. You never forget.
This year I celebrated 19 years of sobriety. More importantly, I am blessed to carry a message of HOPE. Becoming an attorney was a lofty ambition, but God saw fit to give so MUCH MORE, a partnership in HIS ministry to reach a dying world with a lifesaving message.
Blog post submitted by Venus Dixon, Director of Renewal and a living witness to new life in Jesus Christ. Venus can be reached at email@example.com or 864.242.2166.