“When I am clean, I have a business, mortgage, two beautiful kids and go to church. But, when I drink, the alcohol starts the drugs and I shift into a gear called ‘screw it’.”

It is not surprising that addiction was another theme found through my qualitative research on the Kingdom Life Ministries (KLM) men. External factors can contribute to irrational and misguided decision making. Addiction, according to the interviewees, strongly influenced the choices one made while using drugs. Since 1996, more people have been arrested on illegal drug charges than for any other offense in the U.S. When alcohol offenses are included in this count, almost one-third of all arrests are related to drugs or alcohol (Weisheit, 2009). In addition to this large percentage of criminal activity, countless other crimes are related to drugs. The National Institute of Justice (2011) has found that over half of both men and women who get arrested test positive for drugs at the time of arrest. Frequently, it has also been revealed that these men would break into a house or mug someone in order to get money so they can buy drugs.

Negative, neglectful, and potentially violent actions and behavior cripples personal and professional relationships, scars intimate family relationships, and casts a shadow over the path and dreams that are given up for a fix. In describing this, men stated:

“Addiction made me a bad person — cheating on my girlfriend with random women.”

“My life was unmanageable. I haven’t seen my son in 7 years because of my lifestyle and addiction.”

Illegal drugs are in high demand across the United States, and as policy makers and law enforcement officers analyze the problem and search for a solution, it is essential that they recognize the “war on drugs” must be fought differently (Torgenson, et al., 2004). By decreasing the demand, through such programs as KLM, we are able to make progress in this area. To further emphasize the demand for drugs, during an alumni meeting, the program director stated:

“What sane person orders a cheeseburger from McDonalds, eats it and gets violently ill, and pukes all over themselves, and turns around to go back to the same McDonald’s and get another burger? Dope fiends do that with drugs.”

Denial was an additional sub-theme that developed relating to addiction. The majority of participants experienced an “awakening” or realization driving them to seek help while others simply hit rock bottom. Some achieved this same consciousness of their addiction through extreme trauma and personal danger. Many of the men described their knowledge of addiction as lacking, therefore, prior to joining the program; they did not know they were struggling with a disease:

“I never knew this was a disease, I just thought people got high — but I now realize it’s a disease and I need help.”

When discussing their recovery, the men exhibited great pride in their accomplishment. For most of them, their environment fed their addiction, and did little to educate them about the symptoms of addiction. Once they became aware of the problem, and committed themselves to a recovery process, the commentary had a very different style and feel. Displaying this was the display of pride and self worth:

“It feels great to set yourself free and no longer be a part of the problem, but to become a valuable instrument to the solution.”

“I have to dedicate my life each day to recovery and then God provides me with reminders of my commitment and provides the strength to stay with it, no matter what.”

“Recovery helps motivate us to live in the solution instead of the problem.”


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *