New Residents come to the Jericho House through a network of interventions. Over the years, we’ve learned the wisdom of the ‘intervention’ Steps of the 12-Step program – the first three: 1) We admitted…… 2) Came to believe…… and 3) Made a decision…. Back in the ‘80’s & 90’s interventions filled treatment centers with new ‘patients’. We called them ‘hospitals’ then, given the AMA’s decision to categorize addictions as a “disease”. An intervention was a gathering of immediate and extended family members, close friends, and sometimes even an employer. It was a “surprise encounter” for the one afflicted with addiction. The goal was to get the loved one into immediate care. Anyone who has experienced it or been a target of it will tell you it is or can be a huge wake-up call. Research and statistics suggest that this method of confrontation does not have much of a positive track record. Many who agreed to enter treatment never completed it. Less than 5% found lasting sobriety. The insurance companies and state-sponsored programs stopped funding treatment, because the ‘hospital’ system continued to promote ‘interventions’ such that individuals were accumulating multiple stays. Our own research suggests that many of the homeless had had 25 – 50 “Detox” visits to area ‘treatment centers’.
It all came to a screeching halt. If you have private insurance, you can easily access treatment facilities. If you don’t, there are very few options. The Salvation Army and most Rescue Missions still have recovery programs. They are generally long-term from six months to a year. Through their decades-long work, they have realized that addictions is not “cured” in 30 days of treatment. Our resident pool over the past 12 years reflects that 90% of our residents grew up in dysfunctional families. Most had had their first experimental use of drugs/alcohol as young as 8 years of age. Sobriety is a life-style just as much as intoxication. Both have a ‘skill set’ that is learned and practiced until it becomes a routine. When the routine is interrupted, the damage inflicted can take a long time to ‘un-learn’ or ‘repair’.
The most effective ‘treatment centers and/or programs’ are not a sea-side or mountain-top resort. There is enough science out there to safely say that there is no cure. The most effective, cheapest, models of recovery are found in dusty Church basements, store-fronts, or vacant down-town buildings that are rented out to “The 12-Step Community”. The 12-Step program is based on the participant’s willingness to admit, to come to believe, and to make a decision. “Do I want to get better or not?”, am I ‘sick & tired of being sick and tired or not? Can I admit to myself that I can’t do this by myself or not? The 12-Step program is a ‘mentor’-based program. Everyone has or should have a ‘mentor’ or ‘sponsor’ in the program. These sponsors are ‘on-call’ to those new to recovery for support, counsel, and accountability. The good Sponsors know what 2:00a.m. looks like for their ‘sponsees’. Recovery in the 12-Step community is ‘free’. Yes, there is a ‘pass the basket’ time. Most will throw in a ‘buck’ to help cover the monthly rent of the space. However, if you don’t have a buck, you pass the basket on, and you keep coming back. The “12 Traditions” suggest “no dues” for recovery. In most mid-sized communities, there are enough 12-Step meetings to attend in an 18 hour period of time, such that one could be in “treatment’ all day. For some in the early-going of recovery, that frequency is needed. For others “90 meetings in 90” days is a pre-requisite for success.
When it’s all said and done, we have to want what a new life offers in and of Christ. Jesus told us Himself that the path is not easy. Few even find that path. For most addiction and substance abuse is a life-long war. The counter to that – total surrender to addiction – is also difficult and leads to isolation, abandonment, poverty, and death. There is ‘a way’. There is ‘truth’. And there is ‘life’. The fact is that we all surrender to something.
The residents at the Jericho House have surrendered to reconciliation with God, with themselves, with family, and with the community. It’s taken a long time for them to get there. Most have lost everything. Most have lost their families. Most have never known what it is like to hold a job longer than three months. But they come having found a new life in Jesus Christ. In so doing they are beginning to know and understand what hope is, what grace feels like, and what the love of Christ holds for them.