Do you want to get well?

For the past year, I’ve been helping with addiction recovery work. It’s one of the fasting growing needs in America (perhaps in most countries).

I interact each week with a variety of recovering addicts. Most of them reached a place in their battle with alcohol and drugs where they came to acknowledge that they are powerless and that their lives had become unmanageable. They came to believe that a power greater than themselves was necessary for change. They came to a decision to turn their lives over to the care of God.

We have about 60-80 addicts each week in our large meeting. After welcoming new people to the meeting, we ask if anyone is celebrating a clean anniversary. Hands go up. Some testify to weeks, months, or years of sobriety. A heartfelt cheer is offered for each one! I am convinced that most local churches could learn from the mutuality, transparency, and care expressed in these meetings.

The flow of our large group meeting involves a different person each week sharing about his or her journey from addiction to recovery. Almost without exception, the story behind each story involves a starting point in a dysfunctional home – often one with parental addiction patterns.

One evening, I had the opportunity to ask the group to consider a strange question Jesus asked. Jesus approached a man who was invalid for thirty-eight years. When he saw him lying in this condition, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:1-6). As the story continued, Jesus healed the man and the legalistic religious community took issue.

Do you want to get well?

The question caught my attention. Why ask such a question. The answer seemed obvious. Can’t we assume that people want to get well? Could there be reasons they prefer not to be well?

I recommended to our recovery group that some people don’t want to get well. Those in recovery typically spent years in addiction before they turned for help. Most of them didn’t recognize that they were not well. Many of them repeatedly turned down help.

Can you think of reasons people don’t want to be well?

I recommended a few.

  1. Fear of responsibility. I can remain “comfortable” in my excuses and victim mindset if I refuse to get well. Being well means (among other things) I have to take responsibility for my life. Addicts sometimes prefer blaming others to excuse their addiction because of a deep-seated fear of taking responsibility for their lives.
  2. Validation of victimization. Many addicts have real stories of being victimized in their childhood years by selfish and cruel adults. Not being well (remaining an addict) could be a strange way of validating victimization. The victim mindset is one where I always give myself a pass and never have to feel guilty or responsible. Such a mindset only gives prolonged life to the original damage.
  3. Soliciting sympathy. Most addicts have had real hurts that leave deep pain in their lives. The absence of caring adults is another common childhood experience. Addiction can be a self-damaging way of crying out for someone to care. Not being well could be a means for soliciting care from others. Sadly, it also becomes a common tool of manipulation for addicts. It’s one reason addicts wear out their welcome and burn bridges with caring people. Weakness becomes willfulness when we refuse to get well. There are also good-willed people who enable this kind of behavior. Such people are typically meeting their need to be needed – not serving the best interest of the addict.
  4. Seeking retaliation. Some use their condition as a means to pay back those whom they feel sent them into a life of addiction. Not being well is a way to put a burden on loved ones or to manipulate others with guilt. Addicts commonly carry feelings of justified anger. Feeling that something is owed to them for what they suffered, they allow cherished resentments to validate their addictions. Sometimes it involves an “I’ll show them!” attitude.

None of these reasons for not wanting to be well are worth the bondage of addiction. The temporary feelings of satisfaction each one offers only multiply into more years of downward spiral. If you doubt this, ask those who hit the bottom.

This post is meant to encourage thought and discussion among those who battle addictions and those who help with recovery. Please share it.

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Alcohol addiction, Drug addiction, Holistic ministry, Wisdom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Do you want to get well?

  1. Pingback: A La Carte (March 15) - Top Affaires - Business et formations en ligne

  2. Linn says:

    Mr. Cornell,
    Thank you for your post! I come from a family with many addicts, some highly functional and others not so much. Most of them have blamed others for their issues. Your article both validates some thoughts I’ve had for a long time and also gives me some good talking points to share with them. Only by God’s grace did I escape the addiction trap. I was looking for “another way”, which was God’s way of drawing me to Himself. I was saved as a teen, got involved in healthy activities (i.e no drinking or drugs involved), and was well-discipled in the ways of staying healthy spiritually, socially, emotionally and physically. Almost 50 years later, I continue to be grateful for God and His mercy/grace in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. J.D. Hatfield says:

    I appreciate this post. I was an addict for 10 years. I have been working with addicts for nearly 20 years. I sit on the board of a recovery mission. I shared this with the executive director. It was well received. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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