How to Handle Addiction

Addiction: My Story and Yours

Dwight A. Moody

This week I picked up my son Ike Moody and took him to a detox center in downtown Louisville. It is not the first time I have done this, and others have done it for him at other times in other places over the last 25 years.

Maybe you have friends and family in a detox program today.

After three or five or even ten days, Ike will be released to enter, if he will, an addiction recovery program. Most of these are residential programs that last 28 days; a few allow addicts to stay up to six or even 12 months.

Recent notice has been given to what experts in the field have known for a long time: 28-day residency treatment programs do not work. Ike has completed several, and he has not stayed sober for very long.

Addiction is an insidious disease. It is wicked hard on the addict but also on his friends and family. Ike has a wide circle of people who love and care for him; and many have invested time, money, and spiritual energy to help him find the healing he needs.

Ike does not like to be an addict. In this, he is like the millions of others who struggle through life, who survive one failure after another, who live at times in the street or on the couch of a sympathetic friend, who spend more than their share of time in jail and in the hospital. It is not a life one choses; it is an existence into which one is dragged for the forces of evil.

Thank God, the day before I took Ike downtown, I went to the edge of town to hear a man preach. Dave Emery is his name, and he is pastor of Middletown Christian Church. I went, in part, because of what I knew Dave was going to do in his sermon: interview an addict.

It was a sermon about the spiritual journey from death into life, from darkness into light, from sin into righteousness. The gospel is full of this sort of thing—indeed, it is the only thing the gospel is about: how Jesus unleashes the power of God in our lives to endure suffering and escape sin. It was a sermon I knew I needed.

Pastor Dave brought to the platform a member of his congregation, Mike by name. Mike had just celebrated seven year of sobriety—in his case, from alcohol. As is the practice of people whose journey to sobriety runs through AA, Mike invited all his friends and his pastor to be present when, at the proper time, he stood among the 150 or so people attending his AA meeting to announce the anniversary of his first day of sobriety. As always, the testimony was accompanied by much cheering and celebration.

Dave interviewed Mike, and Mike described the depression, the loss, the struggle, the loneliness, and the despair that filled his life during his addiction. It is not easy being an addict.

Then Pastor Dave turned our attention to the story told by John the Evangelist (chapter 11) of Jesus coming to the tomb of his friend Lazarus (who was already four days dead).

“Roll away the stone” Jesus commanded the friends and family who stood around as Jesus considered his course of action. That is what I hear Jesus saying to me when I stand at the tomb of darkness and despair into which my son is dragged.

You know the rest of this Bible story, how Jesus first wept, and later said in a loud voice, “Come out, Lazarus!” It was a miracle, of course, as the narrative describes Lazarus coming out, bound hand and foot by the embalming clothes.

“Unloose him and let him go!”

Once again, Jesus addressed the friends and family of Lazarus; and once again, I hear the voice of God speaking to me, and not only to me but to therapists, and sponsors, and friends, and brothers and sisters, and husbands and wives, and people who have gladly purchased Ike’s art.

More than once, over these 25 years, Ike has come out of a dark place; and more than once we have unwrapped him and let him begin life again. And I suspect, in the days and weeks ahead, I will have occasion to watch as Ike exits one more time that tomb of addiction accompanied by the words of Jesus:

Roll away the stone and let him loose!

And I will go to work again, giving thanks that Ike is alive and, even for a day, full of hope and gratitude.

Being family is often a very difficult task.

“Cast all your cares upon God, for God cares for you.”  (First Peter 5:7)

Ike, now 45 years old, continues to struggle with addiction and its attendant consequences. Now (summer, 2021) he is clean, active, and very productive as an artist. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, but is on temporary location as Artist in Residence at Community of Peace in Louisa, Virginia.