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Understanding Abnormal Behavior

Since Jerry and I have been in Lake Havasu, we have come across a large number of people who have terrible alcohol and other drug addictions. In our years of ministry, in either of our churches, I can’t recall ever coming in contact with such a high percentage of people who are fighting these problems. I’m not sure if this is just a reflection of our current society, or if such is peculiar to the area here.

I have a hard time understanding the actions of these people, and have made a concerted effort to gain knowledge about their problems. I have contacted ministers who work with restoration programs for persons with addiction problems, and have asked them specifically about cravings. “Do they crave alcohol in the same way I crave food,” I asked Rev. Rick Faulker.

“Yes, they do. They crave the sugar in alcohol.”

I’m not at all “putting-down” these people. Quite the contrary is true. During recent weeks I have met precious women who are as bound by drugs as is a hardened criminal bound by shackles, and I weep for them. I’m desperate to have them emerge from these black days into the light of redemption and deliverance. I know God is their ultimate answer, but I see they need help from every available source. I want to understand them.

I sat in her living rooms as Jerry and I gave her and her husband a Bible study. Full of resolve, promising to be in church on Tuesday night, the very next morning after the Bible study she was drinking again, and could not keep her promise to her family, to Jerry and me, and to God. I grieve for this beautiful young mother.

This past Tuesday night, she and her family came into our Bible study session. “How are you doing?” I asked her as, before the service, we hugged.

She laid her head on my shoulder as she replied, “Not well. Not well at all.” We stood embraced for a long time.

Her husband greeted me, and as I asked the same question of him, he replied. “She’s not doing well, and it gets very hard.” A beautiful young lady stood beside him, and the man introduced her. “This is my daughter.” Later I learned her age to be 15.

During the service, when Jerry asked if anyone had a prayer request they wanted to speak aloud, the wife said, “I do,” then proceeded to speak. “I have a terrible addiction and I want to get over it.” She looked around the room, as though pleading with all of us. “I don’t want to do it. I really don’t want to.”

“Let’s all reach our hands to her now and pray for her,” Jerry said later, and so we did. My heart nearly broke as that sweet family of three sat on the front row and prayed, the dad reaching across his daughter as he extended his hand to his wife. The daughter had placed her arm around her mother, and now wiped tears from her juvenile eyes.

So then, I was intrigued to read the following article from Wired Magazine. Please read it and let me know what you think, and more especially tell me how to help these precious people I know. If you’ve had success working with addicts, or if you have been down that road yourself, I am eager to hear from you.

Being crazy is hard, but it’s worth the effort. Especially if you’re a cop, paramedic, or social worker who may someday need to deal with a person having a psychotic episode. At those times, empathy can be crucial.
That’s where Virtual Hallucinations comes in. The training device, created by Janssen L.P., is a rig with earphones and goggles that plunges the wearer into the mind of a serious schizophrenic. The system offers two interactive scenarios. In one, you’re riding a bus in which other riders appear and disappear, birds of prey claw at the windows, and voices hiss, “He’s taking you back to the FBI!” The other features a trip to the drugstore, where the pharmacist seems to be handing you poison instead of pills, and hostile customers stare at you in disgust.
Developed with psychiatrists and endorsed by advocates for the mentally ill, Virtual Hallucinations is being used by law enforcement, corrections, and health care professionals in at least half a dozen states. “It’s very effective,” says Margaret Stout, executive director of the Alliance of the Mentally Ill of Iowa, who’s tried it herself. “It really allows you to feel like your mind is just not working well.” For cops who have gone through the training, she says, that can make all the difference when it comes to understanding what a mentally ill person is going through. And there’s nothing crazy about that.