Op-Ed: Addiction: Recovery is possible

mike-beathIn the United States, more than 7 million children live with a parent with an alcohol problem. (SAMHSA) Alcohol usage in these families affects the children. Today, 1 in 5 people report that they grew up with an alcoholic parent.

That’s roughly 18% of adults. (COA)

About 18 million Americans have an alcohol use disorder (SAMHSA), leading to approximately 85,000 alcohol-related deaths, “making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the country.” (JAMA)

Alcoholism, considered a disease, includes these symptoms:

• Craving—A strong need, or urge, to drink.
• Loss of control—Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.

• Dependence—Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and negative emotional states such as anxiety, after stopping drinking.

• Tolerance—The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect. (NIH)

70 percent of alcoholics develop a three to four year dependence on alcohol from a single episode. (NIH)

Recovery is possible the National Institute of Health states, especially for those who undergo formal treatment, while many others recover without formal treatment.

Born into a dysfunctional family, Mike Beath didn’t know he had been adopted by his father until it was revealed to him in a negative comment by his grandmother. Resentment and change began in him at age 9, becoming the roots of alcoholism, cocaine addiction, and the need to be a people pleaser and overachiever.

At age 17, Mike dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Navy as a Kiddie Cruiser. Receiving training in Pensacola, he became a plain clothes communication tech with top security clearance.

Based in Istanbul, his job was to intercept communications from the Russian Naval Fleet as they passed through the Bosphorus from a radar base in Ankara. In 1964, this was the height of the Cold War; communications were in Morse Code and were passed to a decoder and then on to a translator who translated them from Russian to English.

A people pleaser, Beath partied while off shift. One night, he and a few other enlisted men stole a slot machine from the non-commissioned officers’ club to be used at parties in their own apartments. Later found out, Beath lost his top security clearance, spent 90 days in the brig, and was demoted to the job of barber on a ship.

All this time he was becoming addicted to alcohol without even realizing he had a problem.

Honorably discharged at age 21, Beath became an electrician, completing his apprenticeship on Towers A and B at the World Trade Center. He used his GI Bill to study at Brooklyn College for a time.

Mike married, had four children, and moved his family to Los Angeles where he’d grown up. For ten years he worked in sales and marketing, adding a cocaine addiction to functional alcoholism, and found himself divorced. Lorraine, his ex-wife, took his children to Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Beath remarried with a woman who had similar problems.

One Easter, the two found themselves with nothing to do, and went to church. It was there that Mike first heard the message of the resurrection. Intrigued, he returned, each week hearing a call for the altar. Finally, he gave his life to Jesus.

In 1979, Mike woke up in jail, with three DUIs. Bonding out, he was sick and tired of being sick and tired, knowing that he couldn’t overcome his addictions on his own. Mike admitted his problem to God, turning the addictions over to him. Three days later, after direction from a friend, Beath admitted himself to an aversion treatment center in Santa Barbara—a ten-day treatment plan costing $10,000.

The regimen applied was successful. Mike’s conscious thoughts had influenced his subconscious, so that he no longer wanted a drink, of any kind. The flesh of the body and the flesh of the mind had been sufficiently overcome. The cocaine addiction left with the alcohol. However, there continued to be a desire to drink, though Mike consciously did not want one.

Mike’s second wife continued to drink and this marriage ended.

One day, Lorraine, his first wife, phoned Mike from Florida. Their oldest son was using drugs. The next day Mike flew south; arriving at the airport, he saw his wife and four children waiting. Mike believes God was saying, “I’m giving you back what you threw away.”

Mike and Lorraine remarried. Eventually, Mike Beath went back to school and graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a religious studies degree. He helped found an Overcomers group at Morningside Ministries and on January 1, 2002, opened the doors to Celebrate Recovery at Morningside.

Each week 150 to 200 people attend; over the years, thousands have been helped. The focus is on getting the roots out, the conscious affecting the subconscious, by the renewing of the mind. Mike Beath states that this process works. Beath himself discovered that he had been holding onto issues from his childhood. As these roots were unburied, exposed to the light and dealt with, the desire to drink finally left him.

Today Mike Beath is the pastor overseeing Celebrate Recovery at Morningside Ministries in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Lorraine is co-leader with him, assisting co-dependent women.

Beath understands what others go through because of his own past. “I came from the streets,” he says, and “We’re still works in progress.” Many people see the recovery process as a burden, but Mike Beath calls it “opportunity, a blessing, a u-turn.” It’s a chance at a new life, and “we are paid back what the ‘locusts’ have stolen.”

Mike asserts, “Celebrate Recovery is not like other addiction freeing programs.” It is a stepping stone out of addiction and into a spiritual awakening with God, to the next level of life he has for you. This gives the alcoholic purpose, a more abundant life, and the ability to get up in the morning. Gone is the dread of day-to-day living.

Celebrate Recovery is not only for substance abuse. It is for anything that hinders you: hurts (abuse, abandonment, co-dependency, divorce), hang-ups (anger, depression, fear, unforgiveness), habits (bad coping methods: alcoholism, drugs, food, gambling, sex, shopping, smoking, etc…). This is where the roots to the old man come out and remain out. Beath states, “It’s like getting a check in the mail you didn’t deserve.”

The program utilizes 8 principles, 12 steps, and has many testimonies.

Begun more than 20 years ago at Saddleback Church, Celebrate Recovery today is used in over 20,000 churches internationally. Mike Beath adds, Celebrate Recovery operates under a church because, “a church is a hospital for sinners. There’s no one perfect here.” Article Link…

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