Ongoing Support: Drug and Alcohol

When I first walked into an addiction treatment facility to visit a patient in the early days of my work with Institutional Ministries, I expected that the staff would help me make my visit and then be done with me. I didn’t at all expect what I actually encountered: the staff inviting me to be a part of the treatment program.  They recognized that addiction is more than a medical and psychological problem: it’s also a spiritual problem, and they welcomed my assistance in helping the patients find a spiritual solution.


Most treatment facilities recognize and make use of the 12 Step approach to addiction developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, which involves entrusting your problems and your life to a “Higher Power.” In my visits and my groups in treatment facilities I get to work with people who have been held captive and brutalized by an addiction, and I have the joy and privilege of introducing them to the “Highest Power”, the God who not only created them but also loved them enough to die for them. In the safe place of God’s grace they can explore what has gone wrong in their lives and discover the power for a new life that comes from God’s loving presence in their lives.


Addiction treatment happens in different settings: psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment facilities, prisons, and support groups for people who are currently out of any institutions and are looking to stay that way. We’ve developed Bible studies, discussion guides, and other guidelines for carrying out this ministry in whatever setting we find ourselves called into. No matter where addicts are, they are in desperate need of hope, hope for a life that isn’t dominated by the need to get high.  God calls us into the work of sharing hope with those who need it most – and that definitely includes addicts!


Chaplain Philip Merten


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