Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Addiction: I’m the pastor it won’t happen to me:


Addiction: I’m the pastor it won’t happen to me:

            I was reading “The Christian Post” today and they reported that on December 15, 2017  Rev. Darick Favors of Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Dallas, Texas was found dead of an apparent “Overdose” (I use the word apparent overdose, because the actual cause of death has not been announced).  Pastor Favor was only 42 years of age.

            I am not going to assume to know anything about Pastor Favors life, his experiences as a youth, his history of surgeries, if he was addicted to Opiates, Cocaine, or liked to drink in excess, or what would lead him to check into a hotel and use drugs, that resulted in his death.  However, I do have a fair understanding of addiction after nearly 25 years in the field as an alcohol and drug counselor, having worked in both the Christian Based recovery community, and secular agencies.  

Over the years I have learned a couple of things that I believe Pastors need to learn, whether we are talking about Life-controlling substances such as Alcohol, Opiates, Cocaine, marijuana, meth, gambling, or porn!

Here’s my list of four revelations I’ve learned as a Pastor!

  1. I cannot believe all the press releases I’ve read or have heard about myself!
  2. I am human and the devil will use that against me every chance he gets!
    •  I have a physical body that suffers from cravings, unhealthy thinking, greed, and desire for pleasure.
  3. I need to surround myself with Godly people that are not caught up in the hype of me being pastor and preacher!
  4. I need to avoid the temptation of believing that I am in control of my thinking and that I am above sinning because I am the preacher!

I do not claim to understand or know what Pastor Favor was thinking when he walked into that hotel room.  However, I do know what we personally believe to be our best thinking can sometimes create the recipe for disaster.  Honestly, I do not have the answers to the question: Why this happened?  However, I do know with the recent deaths of pastors and church leaders because of drugs, it is time for Pastors to start re-thinking their choices and lifestyles and begin making better choices, maybe it is time we learn from Alcoholics Anonymous and the other 12 step groups. 

Here is my summary of what I need daily!

  1. IF I USE drugs, alcohol, gamble or watch porn my life will get out of control very quickly!
  2. I need to GET HONEST with God, myself, family, and church leadership and ask for and accept help to overcome any life controlling problems in my life “Right NOW”
  3. I need to pray and seek wise (counsel) men/women that can call me out on my bad (or some call it the stinking) thinking, and support me when I am doing good to stay focused on God, and not end up as part of the statistics.

 

For more information of this topic, check out my book “The Drug Epidemic and the Impact on our Families and Churches! There is a Roaring Lion in the House!” @ www.revdonallenjr.com

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sad reality within the church~


The impact of Suicide, even within our churches today!



            Reports have emerged that Pastor Bill Lenz who was founder and longtime senior pastor of Christ the Rock Community Church in Harrison, WI died Monday by committing Suicide.  Bill was a strong advocate within the Christian community for Suicide Prevention, and along with his brother created Life Promotions, that ministers and teaches folks about Suicide Prevention and how to recover from those thoughts.

            Reports that I have read have stated that Pastor Lenz reported suffering with Anxiety,  Panic Attacks, and Depression for about three months, and his staff and board responded by providing support and encouragement including giving him time to seek counseling and treatment.  However, the depression became overwhelming and on Monday, he chose to take his own life.   My prayers are with his family, friends, staff, and members of his church.  Having provided Suicide Prevention training to staff members at churches and other organizations I am not sure what could have been done differently, and I will never point fingers.  I have concluded the one key that will help is providing a RAFT for Suicide Prevention!  Every staff member in every church needs to be trained in Suicide Prevention; there are dozens of appropriate trainings out there both Christian based and secular.

            Sadly, I can already hear the theology debate “Is he in Heaven or Hell?” After 38 years of ministry and working in the counseling field for 25 of those years my answer is always the same!  “God knows the individuals heart at the moment he stepped into eternity, and I’m not God.”  

I am going to be blunt, willing and ready for the critics when they come.  I’m so tired of these egotistic, legalistic, self-proclaimed theologians and pastors that can without hesitation say this person is in hell because they made a bad choice in the moment of depression.

            Suicide is a horrible tragedy that is sweeping the country. However, there are things we can do both before for the individual makes that choice, and after the fact for the survivors!

Before the events:  We can provide a RAFT for Suicide Prevention when we suspect something is going on!

·         Reach out to them

·         Ask them the tough question (Are you thinking about killing yourself?)

·         Focus on solutions

·         Transfer them to additional help



After the event: What do we do for the Survivors?

·         Be supportive and encouraging!

·         Focus only on the good points of the individuals life

·         Pray with them for their own peace of mind

·         Assure them that God knew their heart!

In conclusion to this thought!

            Having been around great Christian believers with more faith than I can ever imagine, knowing their testimony and their BATTLE with Depression and Anxiety I realize that this is not an isolated instance.  This can happen in my church, to my friends, and what is even scarier in the right circumstances it could happen to me.  If you are struggling today, please find your friends, family, and professionals that can provide that RAFT!

The original post I read at Christian Post today 12/8/17 …
https://www.christianpost.com/news/bill-lenz-pastor-who-dedicated-ministry-to-suicide-prevention-takes-own-life-209137/

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Free Advise to the Opiate Czar:


If I could give some FREE ADVICE to the newly appointed Opiate Czar:

            With the White House’s recent announcement that President Trump is considering appointing Kellyanne Conway as Opiate Czar as some are reporting, or if she is simply the point person to help direct the Presidents policy on the Opiate Epidemic in America. If I were given the opportunity to sit down with her, I would share the following advice!

Remember the numbers keep rising according to the CDC:  The National Center for Health Statistics estimated 52,898 Opiate overdose related deaths in 2016 (these numbers are not conclusive due to all the data not being in) and it is a good possibility that this number could rise.  Some health care professionals and those in Law Enforcement are reporting these numbers could top 70,000 in 2017!

What should be the government policy or agenda as I see it!

1)      Treatment for those that are abusing Opiates, either prescribed by a doctor or drugs such as Heroin and other opiates they are buying from dealers off the street.  In the state of Ohio, I work as an Alcohol and Drug counselor and they have a mandatory policy for those stopped for DUI (Driving under the influence of alcohol) the person must go through a 3 day education program and evaluation for possible need of further treatment.



I would propose a similar law for Opiates, if a person overdoses and 911 is called or the person is taken to the emergency room the person must undergo an evaluation by a professional addictions counselor and determine if treatment is needed.  No, I am not trying to build up the profits of Alcohol and Drug counselors across the country.  My recommendation is simply based on the fact that from my experience, most people will not seek help for Opiate Addiction until forced to either by the court, family or friends, or health related issues. 



I’m going to inject a personal thought here when it comes to treatment, which some will not agree with me and others will say Amen!



It is time for the government (including federal, state, and local) to get out of the way and let the Faith Based Treatment organizations do what they do best.  There are studies upon studies, that show organizations such as Teen Challenge, Rescue Missions, Salvation Army, and many more have great success rates in helping individuals address the Opiate Addiction.  There should be a push to provide funding to these organization’s with no strings attached (if they want to pray with the individual, share a Bible verse, or disciple them in their Christian walk, or any other faith walk) they should be able to help the person get clean, and develop a sober life style.



2)      Dealers/Pushers:  Sadly, there are individuals that make a profit from the suffering of others: There are two types of Dealers/Pushers; 1 is considered legal and other is illegal. However, the reality is they both need to be stopped.



·        First is the doctor with his prescription pad!  Do not misunderstand me, I thank God for the doctor’s ability to write prescriptions for pain medication and over the past 40 years I have used it more than I care to admit. With having 13 knees injures, including two total knee replacements, Achilles tendon surgery, and kidney stones. I have used my fair share! However, I have also been very lucky that the doctors I had would monitor my use and would not allow me to stay on the drug very long after the surgery. 

In my opinion those doctors that give Opiates out like candy are guilty of ethical violations, as well as breaking the law.  In addition, they should be held accountable, and even charged with a crime.

·        Second is the street dealer! Selling Opiates is serious, and those that do it need to be held accountable both legally as well as punitively.  In my personal opinion if someone is dealing Opiates and someone he/she sold to dies, he/she should be charged with manslaughter.  In addition, the family should be able to sue the individuals that have property and money.



3)      Education: From first grade on drug education should be a part of the everyday fabric of our educational system.  However, education should be based on the facts of what the drugs do both physically, and mentally to the individuals and not based on the bias opinion of the instructor or those that have a political agenda for legalization.

We should also be educating those that are being impacted by this national epidemic such as family, friends, co-workers and etc.  We should be educating them on what to watch for, and other key information such as where to lead, help, and take your friend or loved one to get help.

Rev. Don Allen, PhD, LICDC-CS has been an Alcohol and Drug counselor in the State of Ohio, for over 25 years and has worked with individuals within the Christian recovery community, secular inpatient, and outpatient programs, as well for the past 13 years working for the State of Ohio Department Mental Health and Addictions within a State Psychiatric Hospital.  He is also the author of the book The Drug Epidemic and the Impact on our Families and Churches!