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Christmas–A Bad Time for Addicts and Alcoholics? Faith Is the Answer.

For some, the sights, signs and smells of the holidays bring joy and a warm feeling. But, while others are joyously diving into the season, some of us are dipping into conflict, guilt, and a sense of guilt.
—Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go, Dec. 24.

If I could speak to other parents facing the same situation, I’d say, “You need to hand your children over to someone greater than yourself, because you can’t control your children or the addiction. You are not helping them if you try to—hold on! It gets better.
—Anonymous, “Stories of Faith and Addiction”, St. Joseph Catholic Church Drug and Alcohol Ministry Website

“Tis the season to be jolly!” …Or is it? For many addicts, alcoholics, their family and friends, there are triggers—Christmas tree ornaments that once were scattered in a drunken rage, the Christmas Eve phone call from the ER about an overdosed child—that are a reminder of bad times in the past.

Now, I don’t intend to dampen the spirit of this sacred holiday. Rather, this article is a plea to support efforts to bring faith into the lives of addicts, alcoholics and their families. As an example, our parish has formed a “Drug and Alcohol Ministry”. We meet monthly, with a prayer/rosary session beforehand. Our mission is not to give advice—that’s left to the professionals and 12 Step groups—but to give support and to help people, those afflicted, their families and friends, know that faith in Jesus Christ will give them hope.

The web site for the ministry contains the following resources: a prayer for the month, a list of local 12 Step meetings, a list of counseling services and stories of recovery through faith in God. In our area, the Higher Power of the Twelve Step meetings is explicitly God. But this may not be the case elsewhere.

The statistics for recovery are a mixed lot. Some reports give 10% (or lower) recovery rates from just 12 Step programs. Others give higher figures for 12 Step programs plus extensive counseling. But the most significant statistic is 60 to 75% recovery—abstinence two years after release from rehab—if there is a significant faith component to rehab efforts. And it must be realized that recovery is not only for addicts or alcoholics, but for their families.

So, let us pray to God and to St. Jude, worker of miracles:

 

“God of life, You made us in Your perfect image to live in Your love and to give You glory, honor and praise. Open our hearts to Your healing power. Come, Lord Jesus, calm our souls just as You whispered “Peace” to the stormy sea.  St. Jude, holy Apostle, in our need we reach out to you. We beg you to intercede for us that we may find strength to overcome our illnesses. Bless all those who struggle with addiction. Touch them, heal them, reassure them of the Father’s constant love. Remain at our side, St. Jude, to chase away all evil temptations, fears and doubts. May the quiet assurance of your loving presence illuminate the darkness in our hearts and bring lasting peace. “—Prayer of the Month, website, St. Joseph Church Drug and Alcohol Ministry

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Bob Kurland, Ph.D.

Retired, cranky, old physicist. Convert to Catholicism in 1995. Trying to show that there is no contradiction between what science tells us about the world and our Catholic faith. Intermittent blogs and adult education classes to achieve this end (see http://rationalcatholic.blogspot.com/ and http://home.ptd.net/~rkurland). Extraordinary Minister of Communion, volunteer to federal prison and hospital; lector, EOMC. Sometime player of bass clarinet, alto clarinet, clarinet, bass, tenor bowed psaltery for parish instrumental group and local folk group.

9 Comments

  1. Thanks Bob. It is good to remember that Christmas is not a joyous season for those and their families who are in the throes of alcohol or drug addiction. A number of my children and myself have had this problem and Alcoholics Anonymous was most effective, along with much more focus on our Catholic faith. I can say, and most alcoholics can too, that being an alcoholic was the very best thing that ever happened to them as it showed them how God helped them and why they should love God.

  2. Thanks for your comment Michael. Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads us to faith in ways that are difficult and mysterious. I don’t think I would have become a Catholic if I had not encountered 12 Steps before.

  3. Thank you, Dr. Kurland. I highly recommend the program of Alcoholics Anonymous (Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous, to both of whose meetings I have gone, are simply not as strong as Bill Wilson’s original AA):

    https://www.aa.org/

    The AA Program plus the Catholic Church saved my life some 30+ years ago, and thanks to both – regardless of divorce or debt or death in the family, God has kept me sober one day at a time in spite of my constant screw-ups to the contrary. God is merciful even though I behave like an idiot sometimes.

    At the following web link is a cross-reference between the 12 Steps and applicable Scripture verses. Yes, it is Protestant, but it is well worth studying:

    https://alcoholicsvictorious.org/12-steps

    Here is a Catholic view of the same, but without the Scripture references:

    https://aleteia.org/2017/06/03/how-my-12-step-program-informs-my-catholic-faith-and-vice-versa/

  4. I am sorry that I missed what Michael Dowd wrote: “I can say, and most alcoholics can too, that being an alcoholic was the very best thing that ever happened to them as it showed them how God helped them and why they should love God.”

    That’s it in a nutshell. 2nd Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

  5. Christmas is a bad time who are addicted to shopping (shopaholics); who shop as a form of “therapy”. Believe me, shopping beyond your means is AS ADDICTIVE as any illegal drug out there.

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