News from SCA January 2016
Christian Treatment of Adictions by Chris Hull

Chris Hull, PhD, LPC, is a clinical staff member of SCA

My four-year-old daughter, Maddie, sleeps with a soft, furry pink blanket. Although Maddie’s bed is piled high with stuffed animals, books, and random toys, this pink “blankey” is special to her. Maddie’s pink blanket goes wherever she goes to the point that it has literally become a part of her! When Maddie was younger, she would get very distraught if/when she went to bed or left the house without her pink blanket. The few times we lost Maddie’s blanket turned out to be disastrous. She would become inconsolable; as if being separated from her “blankey” was somehow akin to being stabbed repeatedly in the heart. The only way to calm Maddie down was to recover that pink blanket.

Addiction operates much like a child’s attachment to a blanket or stuffed animal; it provides relief or pleasure in the face of psychological, emotional, spiritual, or physical pain. Hurting people often turn to objects or events that provide momentary comfort rather than endure the full reality of our fallen world. Objects (like drugs, alcohol, or even people) and events (like sex, exercise, or work) can become addicting particularly when the rush of neurochemicals they offer is tied to a sense of well-being! Holding on to the “pink blanket” of addiction is often the only way the world seems safe or bearable for some people.

But what if the desire to recover the object of our affection actually points us to a much deeper desire? Recovery is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as a return to a normal condition; something is gained or restored in recovering. So when Maddie holds tightly to her pink blanket because she is scared or anxious, is “blankey” able to restore her condition as a little girl who is protected and loved by her family and her Maker? Sort of, but not really, right!? Maddie’s pink blanket is merely a representation of safety, security, love, and protection, but at the end of the day “blankey” cannot actually provide any of those things to my beautiful daughter. She has to learn how to trust in God and others for those things and when she does “blankey” will end up in the trash.

So, what does recovery mean for those of us struggling with addiction? What are we trying to recover? What have we lost that we are trying to regain or restore?

Most addiction communities would say recovery is about restoring the normal condition of sobriety or going from a state of intoxication to a state of being unburdened by intoxication. Recovery programs can measure how successful this type of approach is simply by giving a drug test or Breathalyzer OR by counting how many days a person has abstained from the drink, the drug, the sex, the gambling, the person, the food, the Broncos, the pills, the power, and all the other false idols in our lives. Sounds pretty good, right?!

But what if I told you that the Bible is more concerned about us recovering or restoring something much deeper than just our sobriety? What if sobriety was just the beginning of reclaiming what we have lost and not the finish line!

In my years counseling people dealing with various forms of addiction I have come to believe that God is calling all of us back into perfect intimate relationship with Him. I believe that God doesn’t just want us to be sober or “clear-minded! I believe He wants more for us….much more! God desires to restore the perfect intimacy humanity experienced in the Garden of Eden. Recovery, therefore, is focused on a return to relationship with God and others as it was originally intended (Galatians 2:19-20; John 10:34–36; 2 Peter 1:3–4; Philippians 2:12–13; Acts 17:28–29)...and let’s be honest; you cannot do that without being sober!

Questions and Answers

Q. What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to help someone overcome an addiction?

A. Advising the person to stop their addiction “cold turkey” is a big mistake and could result in seizure and/or death. Certain substances, like alcohol, opiates (pain-killing medication), and benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety or sleep medication) have major withdrawal syndromes that can cause a number of medical issues including seizures. The best help you can provide the addicted person is taking them directly to a medical professional for a complete physical assessment. Doctors or nurse practitioners trained in addictionology can monitor your loved one through the detoxification process while medically managing their withdrawal symptoms.

Q. I’ve heard that SCA can work with peoples’ health insurance.  How does that work?

A. The potential client would call the SCA intake therapist (Joel, phone extension 220). He would get the insurance information from the client and let them know if any of our counselors are covered in their particular insurance plan. Once that step is taken, the client would call the “member services” phone number on the back of their insurance card to get a session with the SCA therapist preauthorized (approved before the first session).

Some insurance plans will even let the client get “out-of-network” benefits if the therapist isn’t in their particular provider network. Once the insurance preauthorizes treatment, the client comes to SCA to see their therapist and pays their co-pay amount to our receptionist and SCA collects money from the insurance company after the session is completed.

Now all of this sounds fairly simple, but insurance is often more complicated, so please be aware the client may need to take several additional steps not outlined here, but this is the basic outline of necessary steps. The great benefit is then the client can utilize a legitimate insurance benefit and get great professional Christian counseling at a much lower out-of-pocket cost to them than to pay a counselor their “full fee.” SCA also works with Medicare plans. We do not, however, work with Medicaid.

Dr Chris Hull

Chris Hull, PhD, LPC

Chris earned his PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision at Regent University (Virginia) in 2009. He graduated with a master’s degree in Counseling from Reformed Theological Seminary (Florida) in 2003, and received a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Dordt College (Iowa) in 1995. 

In addition to seeing clients at SCA, Chris is an Associate Professor of Counseling and Professional Development Director for counseling students at Denver Seminary.

Dr. Hull has provided professional counseling services within diverse communities since 2003. He specializes in treating addiction issues, including sex and pornography addiction. He has experience counseling people struggling with anxiety, depression, grief and loss, trauma and abuse, intimacy and relational attachment, infidelity and affairs, identity, professional performance (including career and athletic performance), ministry burnout, and men’s issues.

Chris currently serves adult clients 18 years and older in individual, marital, premarital, and couples counseling.

 

Ministry Minute is a quarterly publication of Southwest Counseling Associates. If you know of someone who would benefit from this newsletter, please ask them to contact Doug Feil at:

Southwest Counseling Associates
141 West Davies Avenue, Littleton, CO 80120
Phone: 303-730-1717 | Fax: 303-730-1531
sca@southwestcounseling.org | www.southwestcounseling.org

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