Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Progressive Christian Approach to Recovery: By Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta

Update: Sabbath, April 12, 2008

Main Entry: con•ver•sion
Pronunciation: k&n-'v&r-zh&n, -sh&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin conversion-, conversio, from convertere
1 : the act of converting : the process of being converted
2 : an experience associated with the definite and decisive adoption of a religion
3 a : the operation of finding a converse in logic or mathematics b : reduction of a mathematical expression by clearing of fractions
4 : a successful attempt for a point or points especially after a touchdown or for a first down
5 : something converted from one use to another
con•ver•sion•al /-'v&rzh-n&l; -'v&r-zh&-, -'v&r-shn&l, -sh&-n&l/ adjective

~ Towards A Complete Cure ~

There are many pathways to the truth and different approaches to a recovery and cure from drug addiction. Ours is not the one and only way, ours is another way. For recovering addicts seeking real genuine holistic treatment from the affliction of drug addiction a main approach that has worked well for many over the years is a progressive Christian approach to recovery that involves:

● The spiritual principles embedded in the original A.A. 12-steps program with 12 related Scriptures from the Holy Bible, that is, the CASA 12-Steps Program.

● The proven practices of early A.A. Members that advocated a Christian spiritual conversion and resulted in high success rates.

● Helping people get involved in the progressive Christian recovery movement for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Any practical approach to recovery from the horrors of drug addiction and the related evils of the ‘dope fiend sub-culture’ is the one that works best for you in light of your own past history, present situation and future plans. Our general personal attitude towards being involved in ‘the process’ of building up a strong recovery program will determine our success or failure. We should get involved in our recovery because we want to be of our own free will for our own good health, not because we have to for anyone else. We need to be completely committed to our living sober in recovery and go all the way or not go at all and remain hopeless drug addicts wallowing in selfish self-pity.

As a cardinal rule, HOW it works is to be Honest, Open and Willing to change for the better, admit our mistakes and accept valid criticism. We must come to know the whole truth about ourselves and overcome all the demons of denial about our deadly disease. We ourselves are fully responsible for our own continued recovery, nobody else.

Recovery is a medical term for one working a medical treatment program in order to recover from a sickness. If, for whatever reason, one slips and falls back into his sickness he suffers a relapse from his recovery. For the drug addict, one can only relapse if one has failed to honestly and seriously work a good strong recovery program, not someone who is merely staying sober in the physical sense. Staying sober alone is not a recovery program. Without a recovery program one can be sober one day and drunk the next. Recovery is an individual effort involving the individual in harmony with God’s will and spiritual principles. It is enhanced and strengthened by a group effort, but ultimately it is between us and the Creator God. However, if one has no recovery program in place and online there is no possible relapse; only a return to the stale sickness of old sick behavior after losing temporary sobriety. A severe relapse is a sign of our continued sickness, not healthy recovery.

For the recovering drug addict, sobriety is the essential starting point. Recovery itself is a long-term protracted process that develops in stages with the ultimate goal of achieving a complete cure, not only an arrested addiction able to pop up at a moment’s notice out of nowhere, but a complete cure so we are healed.

Luke 7:21 “In that very hour he healed a great many people of their diseases and plagues, and of evil spirits; and he gave sight to many blind men.”

The continued failure of one’s recovery program that results in a severe relapse is because of a fatal flaw in that program. It demands that the relapser take a deeper honest personal inventory and re-design a stronger recovery program in order to improve upon it for better lasting results. If we survive we can learn from a relapse, get back involved in our recovery and come back stronger than ever having learned from past mistakes. Getting straight and back on track into our continued healthy recovery is a good positive sign of our spiritual growth. We will see that it all ultimately involves building up a solid relationship between the Creator God, the Holy Spirit and the believer.

We aim to be completely cured from all forms of drug addiction and its negative consequences, not forever remain hopeless drunks and doomed dope fiends. In connected reality, nothing less will suffice for our survival, sanity and success in life than to be completed cured of the disease of drug addiction. We desire to recover and be healed once and for all!

Isaiah 38:16 “O LORD, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.”

~ Background of CASA ~

Since 1997, CASA ~ Christians Against Substance Addiction ~ a progressive Christian recovery group, has held open weekly CASA Meetings on Sunday evenings at Sally’s, that is, the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter for homeless people in Sacramento, California. The idea of a Christian-based recovery group came from former shelter director Pastor Clent Arby, now head of the local Comprehensive Alcoholism Treatment Center (better know as ‘De-tox’, where the local police paddy wagon takes those who are drunk in public for a 72-hour hold). Back then, a few clients who were ‘in house’ at the time at Sally’s came up with the name of CASA, which is Spanish for ‘house’ or ‘home’.

CASA was first called Christians Against Substance Abuse, but we later realized that we are dealing with clients suffering from hard-core addiction, not only drug abuse. Many homeless addicts come up in here lost, staggering from sin and have been stricken down hard by the disease of drug addiction.

At our CASA Meetings we emphasize the urgent need to combat severe substance addiction as a form of spiritual warfare.

2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons we use are not earthly weapons, but of the might of God by which we conquer rebellious strongholds.”

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Our CASA 12-Steps Program came from a combination of the A.A., N.A. and D.R.A. 12-Steps and has related 12 Biblical Scriptures for each of the 12-Steps. CASA is solidly based upon the spiritual principles of the Holy Bible of wisdom.

At our CASA Meetings we have open group discussions about the disease of drug addiction, general recovery principles and critical issues of importance to those working on building up a strong recovery program and to help others interested in getting involved with the recovery movement.

Since our CASA Meetings are staged in a homeless shelter, we are more acutely aware of the social conditions of hunger, poverty and suffering experienced by many in today’s society. We understand better why some people seek a fruitless vain escape from oppressive social conditions by indulging in alcohol and other drugs, including pharmaceutical drugs. We are more keenly aware of the elements, influences and characters in our immediate social environment and the larger social conditions that contribute to hard-core drug addiction worldwide.

As Christians in recovery, we should always practice what we preach. CASA is the ‘real deal’ and is a unique Christian recovery group based in a homeless shelter. We do not have a regular membership of long-time members as other groups may who attend meetings in ‘normal’ meeting places. Those who attend CASA Meetings come and go, though we do have a few old-timers. Over the years many of our supporters have left the shelter, gotten their own homes, have stayed involved in their continued recovery, are regular members of other 12-Steps groups and are living sober productive lives in society. Some quickly slide back down into their old ways of addiction without a structured recovery program in their lives. We must stay alert to stay alive.

~ Christian Roots of A.A. ~

The basic A.A. 12-steps Program is widely accepted worldwide as the basic treatment model for alcoholism and other addictions. It offers up basic guidelines for many other related recovery groups, such as, Narcotics Anonymous, Dual Recovery Anonymous and other groups that deal with one from of obsessive impulsive-compulsive disorder or another, but over time in many ways the recovery movement has strayed from its original Christian roots and lost its religious spiritual qualities.

As Dr. Bob revealed:
“It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. . . . We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.”
Source: The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975, pp. 11-14):

Early A.A. had a solid Christian foundation and achieved high success rates:
“Early Alcoholics Anonymous had a documented 75%-to-93% success rate in Akron and in Cleveland among seemingly hopeless, medically incurable alcoholics who really tried to follow the original path. Today’s success rate is somewhere between 1 to 7%.”
Source: The Conversion of Bill W.: By Dick B., pg. xi ~

Thus, the original source of inspiration for the basic spiritual principles of A.A. came from the Holy Bible and it was used along with other religious spiritual practices by early AAers in their daily meetings with great success rates.

In his time, A.A. Co-Founder Bill Wilson was a genius as a social engineer, despite his own character defects. Nevertheless, A.A. 12-Steps still remains the model for all 12-Steps recovery groups and has made great contributions to many millions of people seeking recovery. The official founding date of A.A. is June 10, 1935 and is dated from the sobriety date of Dr. Bob Smith, not Bill Wilson’s.

From: Alcoholics Anonymous, Its Christian Endeavor Root, and A.A. Co-founder Dr. Bob: By Dick B.
“There is no doubt that, from early AA’s beginnings, Dr. Bob set aside a quiet time three times each day for Bible study, prayer, and reflection. He read and circulated a large number of Christian books on the Bible, Jesus Christ, prayer, quiet time, the sermon on the mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13. We also have Dr. Bob’s own frequent statement as to the “absolutely essential” study by AAs of the sermon, James, and Corinthians. Also, Bob’s statement that AAs started the day with James, Corinthians, and the Sermon.”

A.A. is now really a worldwide organization yet in many ways it has forgotten its Christian origins. It has given way to the vague notion of one having a God of one’s own individual understanding, whatever that happens to be for the lone A.A. member, be it a doorknob or a group. There is a dark vein of asinine atheism disguised as agnosticism among many AAers today. There should be no half-measures in our belief-system. One is a believer, a non-believer or a make-believer. As Christians in recovery we are bold believers in Creator God as our Higher Power and His Son Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Our faith in God is our spiritual foundation, not anonymity.

Some modern A.A. Groups will not even tolerate any mention of the name of Jesus Christ at their meetings and forget its own dictum of putting principles before personalities, including its co-founders: Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith ~ both of whom broke their own anonymity in their lives. We were not anonymous in our drunken sprees and dope fiend rampages. Why should we now pretend to be anonymous in our recovery?

~ Christian Spiritual Conversion ~

The ideal that we need a true Christian spiritual conversion to bring about a spiritual awakening in our recovery may turn some addicts off who are against organized religion and scare them away. They do not admit the spiritual nature of their disease, of their being in dis-ease and are not ready for a great leap forward into a progressive Christian recovery.

Many addicts who attend A.A. and N.A. Meetings do not really have a solid spiritual foundation in their recovery program and have little or no faith in God as they exist in constant fear of a sudden slip and eventual full-blown relapse. Many are just counting the passing days collecting chips until their next downfall.

Recall: The principles of A.A. as a recovery group evolved from the First Century Men’s Christian Fellowship, which later become known as the Oxford Group. The ideal of experiencing a genuine conversion to heal alcoholism was suggested by Dr. Carl Jung to a troubled patient of his named Rowland H. after he realized that his patient was beyond any medical or psychiatric treatment. The Message of a spiritual conversion along with other Oxford Group principles was eventually brought to Bill Wilson by a man named Ebby T.

From Bill Wilson's Letter To Dr. Carl Jung , Jan 23, 1961:
“When he then asked you if there was any other hope, you told him that there might be, provided he could become the subject of a spiritual or religious experience - in short, a genuine conversion. You pointed out how such an experience, if brought about, might remotivate him when nothing else could. But you did caution, though, that while such experiences had sometimes brought recovery to alcoholics, they were, nevertheless, comparatively rare. You recommended that he place himself in a religious atmosphere and hope for the best. This I believe was the substance of your advice.”

From Letter to Bill Wilson from Dr. Carl Jung: January 30, 1961:
“The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism. “

From Conversion: William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, first published in 1902:
“To be converted, to be regenerated, to receive grace, to experience religion, to gain an assurance, are so many phrases which denote the process, gradual or sudden, by which a self hitherto divided, and consciously wrong inferior and unhappy, becomes unified and consciously right superior and happy, in consequence of its firmer hold upon religious realities. This at least is what conversion signifies in general terms, whether or not we believe that a direct divine operation is needed to bring such a moral change about.”

We suffer from a complex three-dimensional disease that attacks our minds, spirits and bodies, in fact, our entire beings. We need to combat our disease with a wholistic recovery process that treats the whole human being in the mental, spiritual and physical dimensions. Drug addiction attacks us on different levels to different degrees, exhibits symptoms of deeper underlying problems and is at bottom a spiritual sickness that requires an inner transformation and true spiritual conversion in our souls.

We need to be converted as new creatures of the Creator and experience a spiritual awakening in our lives by having a real Christian spiritual conversion that opens up our entire beings to the truth and helps us become devoted humane Christians. Actually we need to have a new spiritual awakening on a daily basis each morning when we awake up in order to keep our faith strong and our spirit in tune.

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

~ Helping Others, Helping Ourselves ~

The central aim of CASA as a progressive Christian recovery program is spiritual liberty, not only physical sobriety, but true liberty for people strung out and bound in the chains of chemical dependency. As Christians in recovery our Ministry is to help others overcome drug addiction and help ourselves heal in the same process.

Progressive recovery is a protracted process of wholistic healing from disease. It is progressive by its very nature because it helps us identify, examine and treats our disease. We see the urgent need for coming together to combat the disease of substance addiction and help educate the community about the drug war that has already killed and injured many of us, destroyed whole families and wiped out entire communities of people.

Overall, it is the social conditions that must be transformed in the process of us transforming ourselves in the real rip-and-tear world. It is the harsh social conditions of misery, poverty and suffering that drive many of us to vainly seek a false escape through using drugs in order to ease the pain of life, much of which was brought on by ourselves. Staying sober in recovery we can live healthy happy and creative lives. However, to seek an escape hatch by getting involved in sober recovery without solving the real underlying problems in our lives in present-day society and without a strong Christian life-style will always leave us in danger of a sudden slip into darkness and severe relapse.

We may find that our real underlying problems were not merely what we drank, smoked or what drug we took, but being raised all our lives in an inhumane sick society under oppressive social conditions that we live under on a constant basis. These are the real challenges of our times, to transform the souls of our times with a Christian spiritual conversion in harmony with Creator God’s will and create a humane society for all people.

Acts 3:19 “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Related Weblink:
Alcoholic Anonymous History: Dick B.’s Website:
● Progressive Recovery Today!

● CASA 12-Steps Program Blog

● CASA 12-Steps Program Yahoo Group

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