With all of the headlines lately regarding the opioid crisis, it is nice to hear some good news. Working with patients who have problems with addiction is challenging, but there are rewards that come with seeing success stories. Such is the case with a young man who decided he needed help and came many months ago to begin a program that would help free him from the addicting behaviors that were ruining his life.
The wide array of substances that people use to get away from reality is an insidious evil plaguing our country. While people are different and some do have predispositions toward addiction that other people do not have, there is still the choice that must be made on the part of the user to take a substance or medication against the advice of his physician and/or the law. Once that choice is made, for many it is a seemingly never-ending downward spiral.
For those with little or no support when seeking recovery, the chances of being freed from the chains of addiction are slim. It is painful to watch someone slowly deteriorate as this evil takes away his life. It hurts to hear a person’s heart cry deep from within to be free from the dungeon encasing it while darkness swirls about him trying to keep him from hearing the truth. It is heartbreaking to see someone reach out and then fall back discouraged. It is gut-wrenching to look at a person’s children who are now without parents because mom and dad died from an overdose. It is more than enough to drive me to my knees in prayer.
For this particular young man, he was traveling down the road of life when he came upon a detour that took him places he had never been and left him wondering if he was ever going to find his way back. For him, his mother was with him the first time he came seeking help; she came with him many times after that, as she was not going to sit idly by while her son's life was taken away from their family.
The young man’s wife had left him a while back, but his children still needed him as their father. His parents still needed him as their son. And God still loved him, if only the young man could just see the light shine through the darkness.
As time passed and changes occurred, the real person beneath the chains began to emerge more clearly. The medication used to help him slowly get away from the illegal substances was being withdrawn from him a little at a time until, on this last visit, he was written his last few doses to finish the treatment. While this achievement, with God's help, is encouraging, he faces many temptations ahead and must continue to be dependent upon God to help him daily.
The best reward for me was to get to see his father come with him on his most recent visit. As the father sat in front of his son and told him that he would have given his right arm to see his son saved, tears streamed down both of their faces. It was a heavenly scene, as this son seemed to realize, more than he ever had before, his own earthly father's love for him and to experience his father’s love, grace, acceptance, and forgiveness. I will never forget watching that unfold, and I told the young man how blessed he was to have that relationship with his father because so many do not.
They got up to leave and begin the checkout process. When I happened to come back down the hallway, I saw them embracing one another in the nursing area right in front of everyone in a way that made me recall the story of the prodigal son being received by his father who had run to meet him.
Despite all of the bad news, the good news of the gospel is still the answer for what ails many in our land.