IBS Confronts, Tackles Addictions in the Church

Addiction is everywhere – in every family and in every church. Although "addiction" is not a common churchhold name or at least not regularly confronted in houses of worship, there is no difference at all between addiction in the church and outside of the church, according to the author behind the idea of a new addiction recovery resource.

There are more than 50 million addicts in the United States and that's just accounting for five areas – sex, alcoholism, illicit drug use, gambling and eating disorders – as International Bible Society's director of Recovery Ministries, Mike Richards, Jr., plainly stated.

And the most prevalent of these is sexual addiction. Recent reports have lifted the veil on a surprisingly large percentage of churchgoers struggling with pornography. As much as 50 percent of men in both the pews and the pulpit said they viewed porn within the past year. Richards noted an estimated 8-10 percent of the U.S. population are sex addicts.

Are churches confronting the problem enough in its growing and critical state?

No, responded Richards.

Much of the lack of response within the churches is simply because they don't know what to do. But a part of the hesitation to act is also because "addiction has escalated so much within the ministry," said Richards, adding that 40 percent of pastors view pornography.

Along with sexual addiction, two other specific addictions that are kept in the dark within the church are eating disorders and prescription drug addiction, Richards pointed out.

"Those are the three areas that I see, from my experience, that are things going on in the church that most people don't know are happening," he said.

The Journey of Recovery

International Bible Society just released a new resource not like any "Sunday School cleaned-up" New Testament, as Richards put it. Instead, it's a collection of "gritty, real-life" stories and testimonies telling the reality of what addiction is like and "how challenging but rewarding recovery is."

The raw addiction and recovery accounts of 11 people are laid out on the pages of The Journey of Recovery, which includes the New Testament, meditation and information on how to get help. A website (journeyofrecovery.org) is also out for both addicts and family or church members seeking avenues of help for their loved ones. The Internet resource provides self-tests, statistics, and a page to share one's own story. IBS is slated to release a DVD component on June 1 to convey the raw emotion and intensity of the journey of addiction and recovery.

"It's their life. You have the voice of the recovering addict coming very clearly spoken," Richards highlighted. "You're getting a perspective and a voice that understands things very clearly, experientially, and not so much on the clinician side.

"Seeing their face, hearing the story ... speaks and communicates to the recovering addict, but also to the family member [who can] really understand what they're talking about."

The life accounts cover 180 years of recovery.

Each person who faced the camera made it clear that the process of healing can't be done alone.

"I literally threw my hands in the air. ‘God, I cannot do this. You have to do it. I'm done,’" said one addict featured in the DVD.

"Recovery is not possible by yourself," said Richards. "It's walked out in relationship."