A Call to Action

“Now, go and tell everyone how much the Lord has done for you.” –Jesus (Mark 5:19)

 “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps we tried to carry this message to those who still suffer and to practice these principles in all our affairs”  —Step 12

Join Us!

The mission of The Center of Addiction & Faith is to raise awareness around the ubiquitous nature of addiction, and the many ways it impacts every single human life. We believe in increasing our understanding of this human phenomenon, of how addiction works in the human brain, and its impacts on every aspect of human society. By showing us how God created each one of us, and what we are personally up against in our own human chemistry, is enormously  beneficial. This knowledge leads to understanding, and that is the first step toward an appropriate  response.

Those who have faced addiction and are recovering from it, comprehend all this, but there are still far too many who do not understand the truth of how addiction works. We believe this understanding is a deeply spiritual matter, that can change the world. We want to grow that understanding, and in doing so reach the lives of hurting people with healing hope and love.

Each of the four Gospels concludes with Jesus urging his disciples to now go and share the truth with others so the world can be saved.  All 12-Steps Programs conclude with the final step of encouraging those who have completed the steps, to carry the message of recovery to those still suffering. Spiritual growth always involves personal surrender, self-examination, repentance, a change of heart, and finally a mission to help others.

 We would love to have you join hands with us and help make this happen. By becoming a member of The Center of Addiction & Faith, you are agreeing to become one of us. You are saying “yes” to this mission, and lending your name as explicit agreement to this pursuit. As a member, you will be included in all our communications and invited to all our events. We ask that you keep this vision in your prayers, and  consider ways you might offer help along the way. Please join us!

 

YES, I want to be a member of The Center of Addiction & Faith!

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A Request of Support

From The Center of Addiction & Faith
President, Rev. Dr. Ed Treat

I have been in addiction recovery for 34 years and I have spent the last 25 years of my life as a Lutheran Pastor. My most recent call was as a Senior Pastor of a large Lutheran congregation in Bloomington, Minnesota. I am happily married, and have raised four great children. I have so much to be grateful for. I planned to serve as Pastor for another 10 years or so, and then retire. However, God always seems to have different plans than what I was anticipating. Does that ever happen to you?

In 2020 I resigned as senior pastor to work on this mission full time. I’ve also taken out a loan to help get The Center of Addiction & Faith off the ground. I guess you could say “I’m all in”.

This all feels kind of crazy and foolish, and yet I’ve never been more certain about anything God wanted me to do. I believe in this. I am certain this is what I’m supposed to do, and I know my life has prepared me for this exact work.

I tell you this because the other thing I am certain about is that I cannot do this important work alone. I need your help! I need partners who can help make this ministry happen. So many people are dying slow deaths of despair due to addiction, but they don’t need to be; addiction is preventable, it’s treatable, we can heal it. I have also witnessed that when people are healed from this particular problem, they become a force for good—there aren’t many diseases you can say that about. It’s a physical disease with a spiritual solution.  

So, I’m asking for your help. Will you become a financial supporter? Will you help extend a hand to someone who is suffering?

Please prayerfully give thought to how you can financially help The Center of Addiction & Faith continue its mission, and click the donate button below. In doing so, you will immediately become a partner in this very important mission I know together we can open eyes and transform lives!

Online Community

Webinars

See Calendar of Events for upcoming offerings

 
Online support Groups

FRLC Meeting –  Anonymous weekly phone-in 12-Step meeting for clergy only. Every Thursday at 12:00 noon, Central time.  All addictions welcome. All denominations welcome. Contact Melanie Martin-Dent for phone # and password at:  [email protected]

Episcopal Church 12 – Step Zoom meeting hosted by the Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church (RMEC) All welcome. Every Wednesday effective 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM Central Time. Click on the following link to join:   https://zoom.us/j/92388064304

Online 12 Step meetings – Find a support meeting that fits your addition and schedule at:  https://www.12step-online.com/

 
Supporting Resources

FRLC – Fellowship of Recovering Lutheran Clergy– Supporting Recovery for Lutheran clergy suffering from alcoholism and other addictions.

RMEC – Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church–An independent, nationwide network of Episcopal laity and clergy, with a common commitment to address the effects of addiction, in all its forms, in relation to the church’s mission.

NACR – Rich resource for Christians in Recovery.

 
National Resources for Faith Communities

HHS – Human & Health Services

SAMSHA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health 

NIDA – National Institute on Drug Abuse  

NSC – National Safety Council 

PDA – Public Democracy America 

CADCA – Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America

Center on Addiction

Harm Reduction Coalition

Recovery Research Institute

Brain and Behavior Research Institute

Annual Conference

The best place for a faith community to begin to actualize a meaningful addiction ministry, is to learn as much as possible about it. Our annual Addiction & Faith Conference is packed life changing education, inspiration, tools and resources. You will come away with a myriad of possibilities, and a powerful new sense of mission. Here are some of the things attendees have shared with us about our past conferences:

“Congratulations on a highly worthwhile and meaningful event. I was enriched by so much of what happened there, and will spend the days ahead absorbing and sharing what I learned.”

Rev. Alexander E. Sharp Executive Director, Clergy for a New Drug Policy

“Thank you for a very fine Conference for which I am enormously grateful.”

Rev. Carla Deitz

“Thank you for a wonderful Addiction & Faith Conference. This one was even better than last year.”

Rev. Meredith B. Musaus

“We are still in awe of the fabulous conference!”

Christine Howe

“I had such a good experience! I was blown away by several of the plenary sessions. Thank you so much for this opportunity.”

John B. Johnson, Program Director, Domestic Policy, Office of Advocacy, ELCA

“This was my first time. I got more than I expected. There is so much that I can use. It is also helpful to have made so many wonderful contacts.”

Anonymous

“I particularly appreciated Brian McClaren’s presentation on Sunday morning where he challenged us to rethink how the worship experiences that we offer weekly does or does not become inclusive for “those on the fringes.”

Rev. Al Dungan

Advocate

The word “advocacy” means to call out for support.  Our sacred texts insist upon advocacy:  Jews and Christians are told to “Let justice roll down like waters, and the righteousness like an overflowing stream” (Amos 5:24 (Hebrew Bible))  The Muslim Koran calls upon its followers to “Stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor.” Qur’an 4:135

Perhaps most fundamentally, advocacy involves communicating with the “principalities and powers”, especially officials in our cities, counties, state and national governments.  Closer to home, it can involve speaking with family, friends, and colleagues at home and in our faith communities.  

Faith communities have a calling to respond to the reality of addiction in our congregations and the broader world.  As we do so through the traditional functions of worship, education, and service, we must also lift our voices in advocacy. Only then will we be fully expressing our love for God and those he loves.

Love for our neighbor without addressing the often systemic cause of their suffering, is love incompletely expressed.  To do nothing in the public arena, is to endorse the status quo, that in itself, is a very political position.  

Advocacy is "Love in Action"

Separation between church and state is a bedrock principle of our nation. However, the First Amendment does not block religious advocacy.  It prohibits government from establishing particular religions and churches from engaging in partisan politics; it does not ban people from being guided by their faith as they raise moral issues in the public square.

Is there a connection between drug use, addiction, and advocacy? If so, what are advocates called to do?  We can start by addressing causes of addiction, which are often social in nature.  Economic despair and joblessness, lack of affordable housing and health care, are the breeding ground for trauma, stress, and isolation.  These conditions, in turn, are often present in the backgrounds of those who suffer from addiction. We can work to alleviate these social afflictions. We can help provide individuals with the resources to battle their addictions. Right now, drug treatment is available to only about ten percent of those who need it.  In a moral society, this can and must change.

For many years, Alcoholics Anonymous was virtually the only hope for those suffering from addiction. AA regards alcoholism as a disease.  Today, leading neurophysiologists, for different reasons, make the same claim even as some academics make the case that addiction is a personal choice.  No doubt the causes of addiction are varied and complex. 

It is very clear that the single most prominent national response to drug use and addiction has been a failed War on Drugs  that was implemented in 1971, to combat illegal drug use by greatly increasing penalties, enforcement, and incarceration for drug offenders.  This tragic effort has been based on premises that have no discernible relation to addiction and its causes.  It was launched for partisan political purposes. It has destroyed countless lives for no recognizable purpose, at a cost of over one trillion dollars since 2001. Simultaneously, the War on Drugs has led to the mass incarceration of African-American and Latino individuals, and has militarized police departments in cities and towns across the country.  It has also failed to reduce drug use.  

The War on Drugs pursues punishment rather than treatment, as a response to addiction and drug use.  It is the responsibility of advocates, especially people of faith, to promote a different approach.

Many national organizations are prominent in the effort to reduce addiction, and to end the misguided War on Drugs. The agendas of the following organizations provide ample opportunity for advocacy:

Ministry Resources

Faith communities address addiction and recovery in a variety of ways. This is a ministry that must be adapted to the specific context of a congregation. Dale S. Ryan, Ph.D (Associate Professor of Recovery Ministry, Fuller Theological Seminary) has identified eight ways faith communities currently support and minister to the problem of addiction:

1. 12-Step Meetings in the Basement

Historically, the most common recovery support strategy for the local congregation is to allow Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or other Twelve Step Programs to meet in their church facilities. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have begun their sobriety in AA meetings in church basements.

Even though most religious people in recovery are very supportive of AA and other ‘secular’ programs; some are anxious about congregations whose commitment to recovery is limited to this strategy. Questions arise, such as; why is it that the power of personal transformation being facilitated by an organization external to the local church while the local church contributes only space? Why is recovery ministry at the margins of congregational life rather than at the center?  Why doesn’t the church want to become more involved with 12-Step Groups?  If recovery ministry remains marginalized, we miss enormous opportunities and blessings.

2. Bridge Strategies

Often Christians in recovery want a way to bridge the ‘recovery’ world with the ‘Christian’ world. Typically local congregations have responded to this need by developing distinctively Christian support groups. These groups are not usually intended to replace secular resources but rather to ‘bridge’ to them. Literally thousands of congregations have established such ‘bridge’ groups in the last ten years. Most of these “Christian Twelve Step” groups are affiliated with a local church but others have joined together to form a network of affiliated groups. These ‘safe places’ are a wonderful resource. In most cases, however, they are still marginalized within the congregation. People within the ‘bridge’ group find help, but the ministry only rarely impacts the life of the whole congregation.

3. Alternative to 12-Step

A third approach is like “bridge strategies” in practice, but includes an intention to ‘replace’ secular programs rather than ‘bridging’ to them. Although the intention is different, in practice these groups often serve many of the same functions as ‘bridge’ groups. In congregations that are overtly hostile to secular resources this may be the only possible kind of recovery ministry.

4. Recovery Department Approach

A fourth approach is to develop a recovery ministry that parallels other ministry ‘departments’ such as the music ministry ‘department’ or children’s ministry ‘department.’ In this model, recovery ministry becomes one of the mainstream elements of congregational life. Recovery is not the central feature of the congregation but it is fully integrated into the life of the congregation. Congregations that take this approach often develop a wide range of services in addition to ‘bridge’ support groups. These might include educational programs, long-term 12 Step study groups, and retreats. Pastoral staff members may supervise and coordinate a counseling ministry. The strength of this approach is the range of resources and the impact of the ministry on the whole congregation.

5. Treatment-related Involvement

A fifth, and less common, approach to recovery ministry is for a local congregation to operate or identify with a residential treatment program, halfway house, or other facility for long-term care. A lot of good work remains to be done to adapt this kind of strategy to congregations in a variety of social and cultural settings but it can be a particular effective way for a local church to invest in recovery.

6. The Recovery-Friendly Church

It is important to emphasize that congregations need not have ‘recovery programs’ to be actively supportive of recovery. A congregation that ‘shows grace’ instead of shame in all its affairs will be profoundly helpful to people in recovery even though it lacks support groups or other elements of recovery programming. Simple ways to indicate you are understanding and supportive to recovery makes those looking for a supportive church feel more welcoming. It could be simply providing a brochure in the narthex, some words in the bulletin or website, or how people are welcomed in worship. There are countless anecdotal stories about from those in recovery who joined a church simply because they heard or read something that made them feel understood and welcomed.

7. The Church in Recovery

There are few examples of congregations who have taken ‘the church in recovery’ approach. In this model, ‘recovery’ becomes the central paradigm of the congregation. Participation in recovery becomes as much a part of ‘doing church’ as participation in worship services.  Examples and Models (not yet provided)

8. The Church as Advocate

An eighth strategy is to create a coordinating committee to oversee not only recovery ministry but also efforts in prevention, education and public policy advocacy. Probably the best example of this approach is the Faith Partners Congregational Team Ministry. Faith Partners has trained numerous congregational teams to facilitate a comprehensive response to the problem of addiction. The strength of the approach is the capacity to do a wide range of activities involving prevention, early intervention, referral assistance, and advocacy tasks in addition to recovery support.

Consulting, Resources & Leadership Training

There are few resources currently available to help faith communities develop and sustain addiction ministry. This is why the Center of Addiction & Faith is so needed. One organization that does do good work in this area that we can recommend is Faith Partners. They have developed an effective process over the last 20+ years, that helps faith communities evaluate and tailor an addiction ministry appropriate to their particular setting.

Faith Partners

Some secular organizations that might be helpful:

The Communities Project  

The Steve Rummler Hope Network 

Recovery Friendly Faith Communities

We hope to develop a comprehensive listing of recovery friendly faith communities. If you would like to have your church listed here please email with the name of your church and your website address and we will include you here so that recovering people can find you.

Recommended Reading

Take a look at our Bibliography

Addiction and Faith-Book Review

Title

Author

Addiction Books Description

Insights on Readings

Knowledge to Power

Kal Rissman

Even though addiction is America’s number one health problem, our understanding of this disease is woefully inadequate. Kal Rissman has the ability to take the complex issues of addiction and make them understandable. 

Great read for lay and alcoholics to

Understand how it works

Alcoholics Anonymous

Written in 1935

The foundation of the 12 steps of AA, how it began, what worked and some of the first stories.  Used in AA meetings

It’s the basics.

Craving

Omar Manejwala

A nationally recognized expert on compulsive behaviors explains the phenomenon of craving and gives us tools to achieve freedom from our seemingly insatiable desires by changing our actions to remap our brains

The body betrays our needs; no

longer can a person control it.

Hard to read but IMPORTANT!

Addiction Nation

Timothy King

In King’s recovery, the idea of addiction as a disease allowed him to let down defenses and accept help. Focuses on person-centered approach of empathy, a skill that guides and helps people in recovery

Text enables a person to see a

newer approach to counsel by

walking with someone to recovery

Co-Dependence: Misunderstood, Mistreated

Anne Wilson-Schaef

The explosive bestseller that revolutionized our understanding of the addictive process. With a new introduction addressing the backlash to the co-dependency movement.

Important to know that addiction affects

everyone around, changes behaviors and

alters how we act

Mind-Body Workbook for

Addiction

Plessis Block

Innovative and clinically proven mind-body bridging technique to help cope with cravings as they arise, manage emotions and better handle stress.

This is a user-friendly and helpful tool for

mental health professionals and anyone

 who is motivated to help themselves or

others who struggle with addiction problems....a great resource!

How Al-anon Works

Alanon

As we interact with people of addiction, we are impacted and don’t realize these changes are occurring.  We all need Al-anon if there is an addict in our life. 

Clean up our own back yard, learn who

You are, remain stable so that those with

Addictions do not effect you.

Mindfulness And The 12 Steps

Theresa Jacobs-Stewart

Through reflections, questions for inquiry, and stories from Buddhist teachers and others who practice mindfulness in recovery, Mindfulness and the 12 Steps will help us awaken new thinking and insights into what it means to live fully--body, mind, and spirit--in the here and now.

This book enables a person to dig

deeper into spirituality, not religion

Well written and easy to follow.

Drop The Rock

Bill P Todd W Sara S

Resentment. Fear. Self-Pity. Intolerance. Anger. As Bill P. explains, these are the "rocks" that can sink recovery- or at the least, block further progress; read stories, insights, encourage for recovery.

One of the most important lessons

to learn is to Let go, give God the

burdens.  How to do it!

Spiritual Evolution

George E. Vaillant, M.D.

Evolution has made us spiritual creatures over time, and makes the scientific case for spirituality as a positive force in human evolution, that will make us even more loving future.

Heavy to read but shares the foundational

Piece that we need a spiritual life.

Accidental Saints.


Nadia Boltz-Weber

In a time when many have rightly become disillusioned with Christianity, Accidental Saints dem­onstrates what happens when ordinary people share bread and wine, struggle with scripture together, and tell each other the truth about their real lives. A story of their faltering steps toward wholeness will ring true for believer and skeptic alike. 

Stories shared enable us to see and

Understand struggles and how it works

The Pastor

Rev. Dr. Ed Treat

A fictional cozy mystery about a recovering alcoholic pastor who solves a crime in his parish. Warm, humorous and theologically uplifting.

Light and delightful, sharing insights into Growing a faithful heart.

A Path with Heart

Jack Kornfield

Using many forms of meditation to help the inner transformation and the integration of spiritual practice into your life…so God is real, alive with you

Excellent book to dive into a deeper

Relationship with God.

Breathing Under Water

Richard Rohr

We are all addicted in some way. When we learn to identify our addiction, embrace our brokenness, and surrender to God, we begin to bring healing to ourselves and our world. Great book for Bible study!

When you are ready to put

Scripture and the 12 steps together

Making All Things New

Henri Nouwen 

This struggle of addiction calls for some very specific, well-planned steps. It calls for a few moments a day in the presence of God when we can listen to his voice precisely in the midst of our many concerns.

Taking time to integrate God into

your life, learning new approaches

to become aware of His presence

The Twelve Steps Meet the Gospel


Trish Vanni

Dick Rice

The authors, both in recovery themselves, bring their experience, strength, and hope to their reflections on Scripture. Organized loosely around the seasons of the liturgical year.  Pastoral usage or weekly Bible study

Simple way to integrate 12 steps

Into the Scriptures as you preach

The Recovery-Minded Church

Jonathan Benz

Kristina Robb

Loving and Ministering to People with Addiction discovers a clinically informed, biblical and theological framework to love the addicts in your midst and practical tools to help succeed in doing so.

Once you understand the disease, this

Will help you create a ministry in your

church

Jesus, You, and Bill W.:

Paul Brunsberg

Introducing Persons in 12 Step Recovery to Christian Spirituality Persons in 12 step recovery have a dilemma. On the one hand, their literature recommends spirituality as a path to recovery.

How to integrate our spiritual lives

Addiction and Pastoral Care

Sonia Waters

Substance addictions present a unique set of challenges for pastoral care and this book weaves together personal stories, research, and theological reflection to offer helpful tools for anyone called to care pastorally for those struggling with addiction

Dense writing and good material.


Webinars