From addiction to recovery

June 16-22, 2005
VOL 124 NO. 23
From addiction to recovery
By David Vaughn/ SUN contributing writer
In the Gospels, the disciples asked Jesus how a man might enter heaven. “For man,” Jesus said, “it is not possible, but for God all things are possible.”

Those who follow Alcoholics Anonymous likewise believe that a person struggling with addiction needs to rely on a Higher Power to recover from the addiction.

Kathy Papa, spiritual director, nurse and substance abuse counselor spoke at the Spiritual Renewal Center in Syracuse on June 2. Her presentation was entitled, “The Addictive Consciousness and the Freedom of the Children of God.”

Papa said that addiction shows up in all people with no regard for ethnic background, male, female, rich or poor. She defined addiction as “a chronic, progressive disease which if not arrested leads to illness, institutionalization or even death.” The addict, Papa said, generally tries to fill up emptiness by looking for a substance to provide some kind of rush or high.

According to Papa, there are three major obstacles to overcoming addictive behavior: self-will, pride and shame. Self-will, she said, is a matter of the mind. Oftentimes people are afraid to open themselves up to anything new and so remain “stuck” in habitual behaviors.

Persons with addictions tend to have very fragile egos, Papa said. “For many years they may have put up a facade, maintained an image or a false sense of identity.” In some cases, she said, addicted persons might deny being addicted or rationalize the extent to which they are addicted. They may feel they do not need to give up all drinking or that they do not drink anymore than anyone else.

Papa described the word “shame” with an acronym: Should Have Already Mastered Everything. The addict might feel as if he/she is unlovable, unworthy of the better things in life. Recovery, Papa said, requires courage and perseverance. The road to recovery is often a long one with a real need to pay close attention to the spiritual piece of getting well. “There is also a need to embrace powerlessness and reliance on God.”

People in recovery also need to be able to rely on support people to help them through. Someone like an A.A. sponsor, a confessor, a spiritual director or a good friend to confide in is essential, according to Papa.

Attending meetings is part of the process, but a newly-sober person needs to be aware of how time is spent each day so that the whole day is in support of sobriety and recovery. The spiritual component of overcoming addiction is the factor that can completely turn lives around. Papa said that if people with addictions can open the door just a crack to let God in, it is miraculous how their lives can change.

Contact Alcoholics Anonymous locally
Syracuse: (315) 463-5011
Utica/Rome: (315) 732-6880
Homer/Cortland: (607) 753-1344
or check the website:

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