There is a new wave of hope that the International Christian Recovery Coalition leaders, directors, and participants can use to transform the view that alcoholism and addiction need to be handled by prison or treatment.
The relapse, drop-out, failure, and recidivism statistics don't support the prison-treatment answer. In fact, almost any and every study of treatment, counseling, intervention, self help groups, support groups, rehabs, imprisonment, and diversion will--if honestly conducted and reported--paint a dismal picture of any potential for prevention, treatment, and recovery.
It was precisely that picture that gave rise to the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. The typical alcoholic was considered seemingly hopeless, medically incurable, and untreatable by human resources. "Divine Aid" was the route sought, and it worked.
Further, it was nothing new. Evangelists and revivalists, rescue missions, YMCA lay workers, and the Salvation Army had successfully restored sanity and health to the down-and-outers by leading them to God through decisions for Jesus Christ. Moreover, to remain effective, helping others was an essential to keeping the restored people walking by the spirit instead of yielding to the temptations of the flesh. The Book of James became a lesson book in the problem, the seeking of God, the resistance of temptation, prayers for healing, and defeat of the Adversary.
What can change today's expensive, revolving-door, negative emphasis on prisons, treatment, diversion, counseling, rehabs, pharmaceuticals, government research, and endless meetings and support groups--all groups and efforts leaving God out of the picture.
The answer must start with an understanding not just of the failures but of the enormous impact that alcoholism, addiction, and recidivism are having on families, children, grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, schools, hospitals, treatment programs, prisons, homeless shelters, jails, physicians, psychiatrists, clergy, businesses, unions, employers, jobs, and public welfare.
In other words, start with the fact that solutions are not working without the power of God.
Point up the enormous price that we all pay for the unrelenting efforts of the devil to move humans toward their own destruction through temptation, excess, insanity, and death. The price is paid by society--not just by patients or family.
Point up the enormous failure of money thrown at the solutions.
Point up the required total surrender--where the afflicted must first decide that he is afflicted, that he is failing in every endeavor and relationship, and that he will continue on the downward spiral until and unless he stops looking to jails, bars, rehabs, interventions, assistance, and sympathy. And decides once and for all that he is through forever--not just one day at a time. Forever.
Point up the A.A. idea that by himself he has not succeeded. Point up the idea that probably no human power can help him--since efforts along those lines have been failing for two centuries.
Then point to the fact that if the afflicted surrenders for good, decides that he must have "Divine Aid," makes the continued and determined and disciplined effort to seek and obey God's help, grows in his discipleship, and devotes himself to helping others--the record of success is good.
Change in social views that will turn the focus from prison and treatment may come only when the immensity of the problem is conceded and the immensity of failure is conceded, and the immensity of God's power is accepted.