Cocaine addict for church membership!!??

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by csmith, Feb 24, 2005.

  1. csmith

    csmith
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    I have recieved great input from folks on this board, so maybe you can help me with this one.

    A young man has been coming to church faithfully for over two months. He came to me last week and wanted to talk to me about joining the church. After going through his salvation and baptismal testimonies, I inquired further into his life and his past. He voluntarily informed me that he is a cocaine addict, desparately trying to quit--hoping that the church and I could assist him with this. I asked him the last time he used the drug and he said last week.

    This is a new one to me. Any suggestions on how to advise the church of this situation? Things I have to think about: Biblical precept and precedent--His confidentiality--love of Christ--protection of church members--legal issues.
     
  2. Phillip

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    Cocaine addiction needs to be handled under medical care due to the physical addiction. Trying to cold-turkey or even cut down the level can be dangerous to the heart. I would highly suggest that you try to get him into a rehab center and tell him if he will do this and remain clean for a period of time, then you would be open to membership. Tell him the church will take care of him as if he was a member anyway.

    Just my humble opinion.
     
  3. av1611jim

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    Speaking as a former Meth addict, I must say that Phillip is misguided.
    Things for you to consider which you have not told us.
    How old is the young man and how long has he been using?
    A treatment center is going to tell him it is an illness and it is not. It is sin.
    Are there ANY members who are willing to isolate this man in their home for a period of 30 days for the purpose of detox? This can get sticky. It should be done by a team and done seperate from any chance of kids encountering the young man.
    During detox, the team members should be prepared to sit with him, restrain him if necessary, and pray with him constantly. This would also include feeding him and cleaning up after him in the first few days.
    After detox, there must be a period of gradual assimilation back into society. Because of this, it will be necessary for the team members to remain accessable to respond to any eventuality at a moments notice. It will also be neccessary for at least one of the team members (in rotation perhaps) to be with him 24/7 for a period of an additional 90 days, at which time the young man should be stable enough to be on his honor.

    My wife is a Licensed Addictions Counselor and she and I are developing a method for the local church to deal with addictions. In this method there must be a period of assessment to determine the extent of the person's addiction. It is that assessment that will determine you course of action. The assessment must be done by a professional. Are there ANY professionals in you church?

    Legal issues. The only issue you should be concerned with is if he is in possession at any given time. If he voluntarily submits to the help the members of the church are offering, then you will have no other problems legally. This submission would be in the form of a signed agreement outlining what you will do and what he will do.

    One last thing. The church IS a treatment center. Or it should be at least. For far too long we have relegated our responsibility (for ministering to the hurting) unto the world. If this young man is truly reaching out for help, then it behooves the church to respond in a manner that will ensure his success.
    For more extensive information e-mail me.
    [email protected]

    I am here to help. AND PRAY!

    In HIS service;
    Jim
     
  4. csmith

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    This man is in his 30's. He has been using for over 10 years. He has also been to prison twice--for cocaine use. Our church runs about 50 people and I don't know if I can put together a "team" as you suggested Jim. I would be willing to isolate this man, but having four children myself makes that difficult. I tend to agree that the church has passed many of it's duties to more "convenient", social programs and outside helps. He is being supplied by family members and friends, so it is a very difficult band for him to break.

    I appreciate your advice. I do feel it is our responsibility, but the way you have outlined it is simply not feasible for our small church at this time. I like the premise, but any alternate methods or variaitons? I may try to contact you. I have seen your website and if you would permit, I will email or call.
     
  5. Phillip

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    AV1611, I certainly hope that you and your wife are carrying about $2 million dollars worth of liability insurance; because there is a good chance you will have to use it.

    I deal with addicts only a daily basis and METH and Cocaine are TWO different drugs.

    I would NEVER, EVER advise ANYBODY to take it upon themselves to detox someone on Cocaine and age makes no difference, I have seen a 25 year old drop dead upon stopping the drug.

    There are also new medical methods to make the detox process much less harsh on the patient.

    I work with churches on liability issues and this is definitely one of those liability areas where a church can wind up loosing its liability insurance over a single claim. If you wish to take that responsibility, fine, but I think it is poor advice to be giving churches who have enough problems to deal with, without a liability suit on their hands.

    Meth use means nothing as far as capability of detoxing drug users. Besides, Meth does not have the direct effect on the heart nearly as much as cocaine does.
     
  6. Phillip

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    You are giving legal advice. Are you licensed as an attorney?

    What makes you think there will be no problems if he voluntarily submits. I could give you five scenerios of problems for that church right now; but I'm not going to offer legal advice. A signed agreement is worthless.

    Unlike most people think: "You cannot contract out liability." A lawyer would have a field-day with your advice.
     
  7. Plain ol' Ralph

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    And your opinion is wrong friend. I speak from experience, the best thing a cocaine addict can do is immediatley stop.
     
  8. El_Guero

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    I would humbly submit that he needs to fellowship with a group of former addicts ...
     
  9. El_Guero

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    At least until he is truly detoxed. Having listened to brothers that have come out of the addiction, it seems to help to have the support of believers that understand the addiction.
     
  10. csmith

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    Surely there is a balance in all of this. Does anyone know of a "Christian" rehab center where we as a church could still be a part of his change of life while at the same time free from "danger"? I understand that there are places that detox people all of the time, but if God is not part of his "renewing" then what is it worth? I hate to relinquish all ties to him. I feel like we as a church have a responsibility to him.
     
  11. Phillip

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    And your opinion is wrong friend. I speak from experience, the best thing a cocaine addict can do is immediatley stop. </font>[/QUOTE]The best thing he can do is be under medical care. Yes, he needs to stop immediately, but not without help. What are YOU going to do if he goes into ventricular fribulation? Has THAT been part of YOUR experience? If not you were just one of the lucky ones. Care for me to show you how many cases I've dealt with that aren't so lucky?
     
  12. av1611jim

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    __________________________________________________

    First of all. Though it might seem naive to you, I would rather trust God than an insurance company. They typically DON'T like to pay out on claims. That is how they got so rich. OTOH, God is not limited nor is He merciless, as they are!

    Second, I have it on good legal authority that a RELEASE OF LIABILITY is valid and defensible. :D

    Third;
    I also deal with addicts and drunks on a daily basis. So your experience is different than mine. Your anecdote about that 25 year old is not much help. You failed to say, how much he was used to doing, how much he had done just prior to quitting, what his physical condition was in, whether or not he had hidden heart damage, whether or not he had been using other drugs in conjunction with his coke, etc, etc, etc.

    Next; I know of METH addicts who have dropped dead while using. So what? Lack of info. Therefore, let's keep anecdotes to ourselves huh? It DOESN'T help.

    Next; What is WRONG with a harsh detox. Perhaps if it is harsh enough they will leave the junk alone. Worked for me!

    Your inordinate fear of liability has been dealt with. See above.

    Ok. So YOU would never advise someone to help detox a Coke addict. I advise differently. Done carefully and properly, a NON-MEDICAL detox is best. Why? Because in the process of supplying detox drugs the addict becomes dependant on them to ease the discomfort, and the doctor then has to DETOX them from the detox drugs. A NON-MEDICAL detox places their reliance where it belongs. On God.

    Phillip. How much drug use have you personally done in your life? From the sounds of things, I would say not much. If I am wrong, forgive me, but your vehement reliance on the world's systems in "protecting" the church suggests to me that you have little trust in God. I may be wrong. That is just the way I am reading you. To say that METH is unlike Cocaine belies your ignorance.
    To also say that METH means nothing as far as capability of detoxing addicts supports my assessment of your ignorance. FYI, next to nicotine, the substances in the common street methamphetamine are much harder to kick than cocaine. Cocaine leaves the system in a matter of just 72 hours. The residual affects of long term meth use stay with a man the rest of his life.
    BTW and FYI, in addition to many years of meth use I also habitually used pot, coke, hash, mesc, acid, opium, peyote, psylicibin, amphetamines, barbituates,and alcohol. And many, many many, times I used them in tandem with each other. Mixing and matching, playing amateur pharmacist with my own mind! Just before being apprehended I had been using 1/4 ounce of crack per day for weeks.
    God delivered me of all of it all at once. NON-MEDICALLY. And at the age of 33. :D
    Imagine that!

    In HIS service;
    Jim
     
  13. Phillip

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    You do not have to relinquish all ties to him. Even if you have to find a secular detox unit, they will usually allow visitation and other such things. They will often encourage pastors and religious people to help out. This gives the person a support system that they might not normally have with just the group of people who have been detoxed together.

    I do not mean to sound so rough, but in my business I have seen way too many drug cases go bad and my specialty lately has been to help prevent churches from becoming involved in cases where a lawyer would just LOVE to get his/her hands on your liability insurance policy and tap it for the maximum covered amount. Just because you are a church, do NOT think there are lawyers out there who won't do this. I'm trying to protect you.

    Many things can happen. This guy could not only be hurt himself, but he could also hurt someone else during the detox process. I'm more worried about your church than anything and I have to let you know that. Just because someone has had experience with drugs in the past does not make them an expert on what occurs to the human body during the detox process.

    You may find a Christian center, but in all likelihood a free center is going to be secular. Talk to them and ask them if they will let you come and visit and provide support for the patient. They will not let you be there all of the time, because of the way drug rehab works, but I think they will be very positive to your support of the patient and in most cases they will be happy to have a pastor involved to give the person hope (even secular centers).

    Good luck and may God bless you with helping this person through a particularly difficult time.
     
  14. Gold Dragon

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    I am encouraged that your church is trying to help this young Christian in his journey to leave his old life and start a new one in Christ.

    However, I'm confused about what his membership status has to do with his addiction. He is obviously repentant and trying to get help for his problem. There are many ways to provide this help as we've seen from the above posters.

    But membership shouldn't be contingent on his overcoming his addiction. If he lapses, are you going to disfellowship him? How many of your members were struggling with sins of lust, greed and wrath when they became members and continue to struggle with them even now? Some of them probably aren't even unrepentant yet about those things.

    Christ came for the sick, not the healthy. Why are we turning away the sick? While we were sinners, Christ died for us.
     
  15. Glory Bound

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    That brings up an interesting scenario - admitting someone for membership with ongoing sin. Is this not a stumbling block - practicing drug user, practicing homosexual, etc.?

    I'd think according to church discipline, that someone who continues to sin would be counseled. If the sin continues inspite of the best efforts of the church, then yes, the person may find that their church membership is revoked.
     
  16. Gold Dragon

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    I think that is a common scenario. In fact I've never heard of admitting membership of someone without ongoing sin. Where are these sinless people and where are these churches that they attend?
     
  17. RTG

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    This man sounds like he needs to move some mountains.I recomend praying his faith would be increased.I would also talk to him,and make sure he's not at all putting faith in church membership to solve his sin problem.Im sure you all know there are many other sins that drug and alcohol open one up to.It kind of bothers me that we put so much stock in clinical treatment.I have some old freinds from highschool who have cleaned up time after time it did'nt change them on the inside.
    Im thankful for the Lords forbearance and long suffering.There is a physical factor involved with detox.There is a spiritual factor involved with turning from ones sin.Pray for this mans faith as well as your own.Doubt is a no winner.I believe the Lord can and will give grace and peace in these situations when true faith is involved.
     
  18. Glory Bound

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    I think that is a common scenario. In fact I've never heard of admitting membership of someone without ongoing sin. Where are these sinless people and where are these churches that they attend? </font>[/QUOTE]I'll agree that none of us are without sin. But to admit someone who obviously is still actively sinning in such a dangerous manner is making a mockery of church membership. In like manner would your church admit two openly practicing homosexuals for membership?
     
  19. El_Guero

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    Gold,

    In Denominational life, we have church discipline. We also believe that a Church is a local Body of Believers (Baptist).

    A Body has reason to protect itself from members if they have a condition that can be injurious to the others.

    A Body can also choose to allow itself injury from a member ... Hence, this thread.
     
  20. Phillip

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    __________________________________________________

    First of all. Though it might seem naive to you, I would rather trust God than an insurance company. They typically DON'T like to pay out on claims. That is how they got so rich. OTOH, God is not limited nor is He merciless, as they are!

    Second, I have it on good legal authority that a RELEASE OF LIABILITY is valid and defensible. :D

    Third;
    I also deal with addicts and drunks on a daily basis. So your experience is different than mine. Your anecdote about that 25 year old is not much help. You failed to say, how much he was used to doing, how much he had done just prior to quitting, what his physical condition was in, whether or not he had hidden heart damage, whether or not he had been using other drugs in conjunction with his coke, etc, etc, etc.

    Next; I know of METH addicts who have dropped dead while using. So what? Lack of info. Therefore, let's keep anecdotes to ourselves huh? It DOESN'T help.

    Next; What is WRONG with a harsh detox. Perhaps if it is harsh enough they will leave the junk alone. Worked for me!

    Your inordinate fear of liability has been dealt with. See above.

    Ok. So YOU would never advise someone to help detox a Coke addict. I advise differently. Done carefully and properly, a NON-MEDICAL detox is best. Why? Because in the process of supplying detox drugs the addict becomes dependant on them to ease the discomfort, and the doctor then has to DETOX them from the detox drugs. A NON-MEDICAL detox places their reliance where it belongs. On God.

    Phillip. How much drug use have you personally done in your life? From the sounds of things, I would say not much. If I am wrong, forgive me, but your vehement reliance on the world's systems in "protecting" the church suggests to me that you have little trust in God. I may be wrong. That is just the way I am reading you. To say that METH is unlike Cocaine belies your ignorance.
    To also say that METH means nothing as far as capability of detoxing addicts supports my assessment of your ignorance. FYI, next to nicotine, the substances in the common street methamphetamine are much harder to kick than cocaine. Cocaine leaves the system in a matter of just 72 hours. The residual affects of long term meth use stay with a man the rest of his life.
    BTW and FYI, in addition to many years of meth use I also habitually used pot, coke, hash, mesc, acid, opium, peyote, psylicibin, amphetamines, barbituates,and alcohol. And many, many many, times I used them in tandem with each other. Mixing and matching, playing amateur pharmacist with my own mind! Just before being apprehended I had been using 1/4 ounce of crack per day for weeks.
    God delivered me of all of it all at once. NON-MEDICALLY. And at the age of 33. :D
    Imagine that!

    In HIS service;
    Jim
    </font>[/QUOTE]Thank you for your lesson in street drugs. I just spent two hours listening to a drug pusher explain why he is doing God's work by giving meth to those who need it on the street.

    First, let me respond one thing at a time. You have it on good authority? Who is this authority, an attorney? I cannot imagine an attorney giving legal advice on this matter, nor can I image why you would take the risk of giving legal advice on this thread (especially since you are NOT an attorney).

    Would you like me to send you a list of cases where "releases of liability" have been been thrown right out of the court-room?

    I certainly get tired of having to help churches out of their legal binds when they do not listen in the first place. It happens all of the time and although I cannot share those cases with you, believe me, those churches all thought that God would bail them out and the next thing you know, they read in the Bible where God says that we are to obey the rules of our government. I cannot tell you how many churches think they are above the liability laws and wind up getting slam-dunked by a lawyer who IS street smart.

    My use of drugs has NOTHING, absolutely, NOTHING to do with whether or not I know my business relating to detox. I would NEVER, EVER, EVER, recommend a church to take this risk by themselves.

    My point was, a person CAN die because you do NOT know what their background is--or if they have a congenital heart problem that you know nothing about. You made my point for me.


    You mentioned by ignorance of drugs by first accusing me of saying that Meth is different than Cocaine, then you turn right around and explain the difference yourself. Get your own story straight before you try to nail me to the wall. This just shows you are either misreading my posts or incapable of understanding them.

    By the way, when I was talking about an insurance company, I was talking about the insurance company that protects your church (not one that will provide detoxification), if that is what you meant. Any church that has more than 100 members PROBABLY has liability insurance with a rider that covers malpractice advice from a pastor. If an attorney see that you are carrying such insurance, then you become a bigger target, the deep pocket syndrome. This is definitely NOT saying to operate without such insurance; it would be stupid to. But 2 mil of insurance sure makes a nice target for a lawyer who can find a drug user who the church tried to detox by themselves and he/she died. Your little signed piece of paper would first be thrown out because it was signed by a person under the influence of drugs. If that didn't work, then the actual laws of contracting out liability would be brought into play.

    Obviously, if I haven't been around drugs, you CERTAINLY haven't been around any lawsuits.

    Ask any church of any size if the price of liability insurance isn't becoming a big issue and just the fact that they NEED it is not a big issue. Our church has around 100 members that show up for church on Sunday mornings and we carry a standard liability $2 mil coverage with pastor counsiling overrides.

    My point is, any church who takes a risk of detoxing somebody from any drug is taking a risk that we HIGHLY recommend that they reconsider. This certainly does not prevent that church from providing support to that person, during and after the process.

    By the way, taking drugs certainly does not make a person an expert. The drug dealer I just got through talking with tried to tell me what an expert he was on drugs because he both uses it and sells it. I'll be seeing him next on the witness stand when we send him up the Creek for "HIS mission to Jesus (his words) of giving people what they need."
     

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