Not in My House!
by Ingrid Lawrenz, LICSW
In The Chronicles of Narnia, Edmund longed for Turkish Delight. The subtle allure of using drugs and alcohol that may make a person feel good or unwind, calls out to people in ministry, including pastors' wives and kids.
Tired of it all
Jason was tired of being a pastor's son. Tired of trying to be an example, and tired of missing out on things he heard other boys talk about, like fishing trips and golf outings. Weekend nights were his chance to hang out with buddies who made him laugh and gave him a sense of belonging. Drugs gave him a sense of independence from his dad and his over-controlling mom. Not only did his parents not know, they did not seem to want to know, because it would mar the image they had of their little family. Ironically, Jason felt free and all the more anxious to leave for college.
Brittany was the daughter of one of the church elders. She had always been the “good girl.” She was taught to reach out, rescue, and otherwise help in submissive and unselfish ways. She was excited to have a real boyfriend, a cute, popular football player. Brittany could see beyond Brad’s facade and understood the pain he was going through. She knew he drank to forget his parents’ divorce and the pressure put on him on the football field and to get good grades. But profuse apologies would follow with jealous control. Brittany had never told so many half-truths to her parents. Her mom knew some of what was going on between Brittany and Brad, but was fearful of a communication cut-off, so she kept quiet about Brad’s secret.
Brad’s dad, Richard, was a pastor. He claimed the divorce was due to his wife becoming fed up with the ministry. It didn't help that Richard had been emotionally cut off from his family for years. His long work hours away from home, his lack of emotion, and his obsessive television watching were one thing. But these problems were amplified by his heavy use of Valium, with an occasional shot of vodka, kept hidden in his lower desk drawer. His congregation saw him as thoughtful, compassionate, and warm. It was an act he could turn on and off at will.
Alcohol and drug abuse are not foreign to people in ministry. The stigma often prevents hurting teens and families from getting help. Not many people know that there are hospitals that have care programs especially for professionals, like clergy, who are impaired by substance abuse. To find a treatment program for clergy in your area, search www.addictionrecoveryguide.org for professional help. They will help you locate the right person.
You can also visit www.drug-addiction-support.org or call Focus on the Family’s toll-free Pastoral Care Line at 877-233-4455.