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Basing treatment on faith

At one time, Randy and Kim Cox had no idea they’d be dedicat­ing their lives to a program like Rivers of Hope Ministries. They were missionaries based in Russia for 10 years before returning to the States, where they spent time both in Randy’s native Texas and Kim’s hometown of Prattville.

In Russia, a country tradition­ally notorious for its alcoholism, and increasingly filled with drugs coming in from neighboring coun­tries, they realized the gravity of the problem.

“We kept seeing that part of the issues people couldn’t deal with in life was drugs and alcohol. We were addressing it in Russia be­cause it just kept showing up on the doorstep,” Randy Cox said.

After their return, Church of the Living Water pastor Jim Weight expressed a need for an area faith-based addiction treat­ment program. The Coxes say God led them in this direction. Kim, who was working on her master’s degree in counseling, shifted her studies to an addiction recovery track, and the plan for Rivers of Hope emerged.

“We got back here and found out we were in a community that had the very same problem,” she said. “We kind of went, ‘Hmm…That’s funny, God.'”

Faith-based programs differ from conventional ones primarily in their approach, they said.

“They come here, and all they really hear is, ‘God loves you. He created you with a purpose. You have worth; you exist for a reason. You are not an addict; you’re a child of God,'” Kim said of clients. “It’s a message of grace and mer­cy.”

Randy said the addictions themselves are not the core issue.

“The addictive behavior is a mask to hide behind from some­thing,” he said. “The trick is to find what that something is.”

Kim refers to the philosophy behind Sharon Hersh’s recent book, “The Last Addiction” — that everyone not in a close relation­ship with God is an addict in some way — filling the void with surrogate cravings, for alcohol, drugs, food, destructive relation­ships, pornography, sex, even work.

“You’re created to be crazy about something, to be absolutely addicted to something, and if you’re not addicted to God and constantly wanting to be in a re­lationship with Him, then you’re going to find something else.”

She said in essence, that makes everyone an addict or a po­tential addict — a reassuring con­cept for anyone who’s struggling with addiction and the alienation that often creates, particularly among drug addicts, who are seen by many as modern-day lepers, the couple said.

The Coxes stress that the founders of the familiar 12-step program, which Rivers of Hope Ministries uses, based their prin­ciples on Scriptures in the Book of James, I Corinthians and the Sermon on the Mount.

“When (clients) leave, they’re still hearing the 12 steps, but in their mind and heart they know the Scriptures that it came out of,” Kim said.

Randy said the basic idea is to give clients something constant and real upon which they can de­pend.

“They can say, ‘I’m going to hang onto this rock,'” he said. “They can say, ‘I want to go use or drink, but I know that God’s over here, and I can hang onto that, and it’s going to help me.'”

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