Whether due to your own drinking habits or those of someone close to you, it’s likely that every reader of this bulletin, including myself, has been affected adversely by alcohol abuse. Abusers — and, yes, those close to them as well — may lose friends, family, health, jobs, and, of greatest consequence, their faith. Alcohol abuse hurts us all.
Are you a problem drinker? I challenge each of you to answer this screening CAGE questionnaire honestly. (If it’s not a solid “NO” then it’s a “YES.”)1
- Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking? ______
- Have people ever Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking? ______
- Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking? ______
- Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to treat a hangover (Eye opener)? ______
Add up your responses, 1 for each yes, 0 for each no: A total score of 2 or greater is considered clinically significant for problem drinking. (c) American Psychiatric Association/Updated: February 2002.
If you do have a problem with alcohol and you have a desire to overcome this problem, please hear me: You need not do this alone. Indeed, it’s not recommended that you do this alone. First, it’s time to renew your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray with me, earnestly and repeatedly the words Paul used to describe his ability to survive hardship, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (New King James Version, Philippians 4:13).
Alcohol abuse fosters disconnect from the body of Christian believers who offer powerful support and prayer during your battle for sobriety. In addition to repeating the empowering verse from Philippians 4:13, connect (or reconnect) with a Christian church. Don’t know where to go? Try searching online at Celebrate Recovery to find a location near you. Or ask a respected friend or acquaintance where they worship and if you can join them this Sunday.
You also need to connect with the proven leader in supporting successful sobriety: Alcoholics Anonymous; find a group near you. Or, if you prefer, join an online AA group. Attend AA meetings, listen to your fellow alcoholics, and look for a person to sponsor you who will call out your weaknesses and hold you accountable for your choices.
Excessive alcohol intake causes physical dependence and, eventually, organ damage requiring medical attention, even hospitalization. Make and keep an urgent appointment with your health care provider. If you don’t have a health care provider, ask a member of AA for a referral and follow-up immediately. Besides medical treatment of complications, ask about options available to assist you in choosing a sober lifestyle (such as the anti-alcohol drug Antabuse).
For additional reading about addiction and recovery, I recommend this public service website meant to help you or a loved one overcome addiction. It is based on independent and verified medical research.
Father God, we pray that each person confronting this challenge, whether for the first or the umpteenth time, seeks and receives the strength and support so freely offered by both worldly and eternal sources through Jesus Christ, our Lord. And Father God, we pray you will keep each person safe from the destructive forces of alcohol and light their paths to the full recovery of their sobriety. We humbly pray these things in Jesus’s name. Amen