“I’ve lost all my hope. I’m really struggling. I’ve lost all my support network. I can’t go to any meetings, I can’t go to work in this lock down and I’m on my own all day in the house. It’s a perfect storm.”
The call came from a good friend of mine. He had been doing so well for a number of months after leaving The Priory, where he had finally admitted to a long-term alcohol dependency.
He had been attending The Recovery Course (a Christ based, 15 session programme, based on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but as they were originally intended www.therecoverycourse.com).
After completing the course he began attending church and, for the first time, started to feel hope.
The lock down was devastating for him. This week I heard he had attempted to take his own life, had been sectioned by the Police and was back in residential rehabilitation.
At the back of my first book, Tails I Lose, I wrote a ‘Contact The Author Page’. I included my email address because I wanted people to feel they could make contact if they wanted to reach out to someone. Over the years, there have been hundreds of messages from people all round the world, who have a similar story to my own. But also wives, husbands and parents of those suffering from addiction. Very often they are the forgotten ones. All the messages share a common theme. Having read the book, they feel a spark of hope. I was totally lost, but, through Christ, I found wonderful recovery.
Sadly, in these troubled times, I have had more and more messages from people crying out for help. The current situation is so hard for addicts. In addiction, whatever format that takes, we isolate ourselves from our loved ones, we push them away because we don’t want them to question us. But we have been created for community and we need the love and support of family and friends. One of the best ways to find recovery is to surround ourselves with friends who can offer support and help when we are feeling low, or when we feeling the desire to escape by reaching for our drug of choice.
Isolation is the right thing to do to protect the nation’s health from this devastating pandemic. But at what cost to our mental health? My struggling friend lives a two minute walk from a shop selling alcohol 24 hours a day. He used to attend four or five meetings a week and meet regularly with his sponsor. All that has been lost. And so has any hope. Or has it?
The Recovery Course offers resources to run courses on line. There won’t be any physical contact, but we can still reach out using the technology that exists. We can still meet virtually, we can still stay in touch and support each other. And what a companion we have in Christ!
Often our lives were packed full of ‘doing stuff’. I have come to realise how busy I was - working, speaking, traveling, there was not enough time to just pause and spend time in the presence of the Son of God.
“If I were to let my life be taken over by what is urgent, I might very well never get around to what is essential.” Henry Nouvren
Today I woke early, I simply watched the sunrise and listened to the chorus of birdsong. As the sun rose I thought about how my life had been before the lock down. Perhaps it was as though I had been in a room crowded full of people. Jesus was there. He was sitting at a table, opposite Him, an empty chair. I was so busy speaking to all the people I needed to talk to and listening to everyone who wanted to speak to me, I hardly noticed Him.
And then, one by one everyone left the room, until all that was left was the table the empty chair and the most importantly person in my life. So I sat down. And we talked.
These times are terrible with so much suffering and hardship for many, physical, emotional, financial and mental suffering. But perhaps now, without the clutter of everyday routines and demands on our time, we should take the time and sit and enjoy the company of Jesus. To recommit our lives to Him and draw hope. Because for everyone suffering from a habit that is causing damage to their relationship with their loved ones, themselves and their Creator, there really is hope for recovery and hope for a better future. Somewhere, over the rainbows.
Justyn Rees Larcombe
The Recovery Course: www.therecoverycourse.com
Helpful resources: https://standrewsbookshop.co.uk/mental-health-well-being/
Addiction help resources: https://standrewsbookshop.co.uk/collections/addiction/