Guest Column: Addictions affect us all

By Rev./CH (ret) Kent Svendsen

As a trained counselor, I have heard many sad stories as concerns addictions. Those stories range from the loss of jobs to the break-up of marriages, to even the tragic loss of life due to addiction problems. What I find most important is that addictions do not discriminate against any social strata or economic lifestyle.

Whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex or even gambling, there are some who can control their appetites and others for whom it controls them. I remember one conversation I had with an acquaintance whom I thought had his life totally together and in control. He was a successful businessman with a wonderful wife and strong ties to his church. As we talked, I could sense anxiety in his voice. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that his wife had a gambling problem. She had tried it once or twice to have some innocent fun, only to end up maxing out all of their credit cards obtaining cash advances to gamble. They will have to work hard to pay it off before it’s time to retire, but that’s only if she gets help to stop gambling!

Today, there are reported to be 62 12-step programs, which were developed using as a pattern the well-known Alcoholics Anonymous program! In fact, there is a Nationwide Addiction Assistance Helpline (800-559-9503), which was established just to help people find help for their particular addiction. With so many people in our nation affected by addictions, it’s important that the public educate themselves on the subject of addictions.

One opportunity to do so is coming up March 20 at the First United Methodist Church of Forreston. It’s an Alcoholics Anonymous Speaker Meeting, which is open to the public. The event will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. in the church basement. The guest speaker has 27 years of sobriety and will be discussing the journey he has taken to escape from addiction. He will also talk about steps people can take to help free themselves or a friend/loved one from addictions. The event is being hosted by the Forreston Early Bird AA Group, which meets at the church every Monday morning at 8 a.m. First United Methodist Church is on Route 26 in Forreston, across from the grade school in Forreston, Ill. For more information, contact the church office at (815) 938-2380.

The Rev. Kent Svendsen is pastor at First United Methodist Church, Forreston.

From the March 17-23, 2010 issue

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