Shackles and Chains

I was driving to work the other day and I saw a vision of a slave with a neck shackle and or iron round.  He was a beautiful but appeared exhausted, in great agony and very sad.  There were other slaves around him, so many you could not see where they ended. These slaves were Black, Latino, Caucasian, Pacific Islanders, Older Adults, men, women and teens.  They were all speaking to me through the pain in their eyes and their tired and motionless bodies.  On their left ankle was another type of iron chain with a word branded in it, it read  “HELP.”

Immediately I remembered a jpeg art I use in some of our ads, it says “Break the Chains of Addiction.”  I just breathed deeply asking out loud what does this mean.

Minutes later I was reminded about a story I have shared when I speak at churches and at some of our training\'s.   The story is of a potter who created the most beautiful cups imaginable.  People would travel from neighboring lands to gaze upon and or purchase his cups.

One day the potter completed a cup that he found far less than the beauty he saw in all of the previous cups he had created for many years.  He found it to be flawed; imperfect, of no value and he placed it on the last shelf at the far corner in a dark space. 

All around this cup were many fine and beautiful cups, none of which looked anything like the cup in the corner on a shelf in a dark space.

Time had passed and one day a man entered the potter’s shed.  The man had on dusty sandals and he wore a long linen tunic, dusty and dirty from his long journey in search of one of these magnificent cups.

The potter told the man that the one in the corner and in the dark was not like the others and was not for sale.  The man walked over to the shelf that the potter had sat the cup and gazed at it for a very long time.  He turned and told the potter that it was the very cup the potter found imperfect that he wanted to purchase. 

The potter told him that the cup was worth little to nothing.  The man handed the potter a bag of coins, smiled and began his long journey back to his homeland.  

After a very long journey, this man invited many people to come and join him.  There were servants and twelve of his beloved. This was to be a day to be remembered. 

All of them were all in awe of this man at a table set for kings.  They sat with great anticipation as the man rose and the room filled with silence.  As the man rose, he picked up a cup that was shaped as a chalice and said, “This is my body and this is my blood.”   It was in fact the very cup the potter found imperfect, without value, of no worth.  The Lord saw beyond what the potter saw, he saw a vessel of honor with an ultimate purpose and powerful plan. 

I began pondering the vision I had had and realized that these slaves were slaves to their addiction.  They were asking for whoever saw them to help them break the chains of their addiction, to take the shackles and chains off of them, all races, gender, ages with words unspoken “help me.”

In my spirit I journeyed back to that vision and turned around an iron tag hanging from the chain on a young woman’s ankle.  The reverse side of the iron tag read, “not enough.” 

I had a very clear revelation; these were human beings who remained shackled in fear, hopelessness, despair, loneliness, and on an endless path to a potential slow death.  They did not have the means or a way to be admitted to treatment so that they could be set free from the shackles and chains.  Instead this endless number of human beings remained bound and enslaved by their circumstance.

My hope for this holiday season and New Year 2018 is that more addiction treatment programs assess what is most important to them, that they make considerations, change policies, re-direct finance from their various resources towards helping those that so desperately need and deserve treatment? 

For years I have witnessed far too many in the field prioritize priceless programs, costly accommodations, finest chefs, hotel rooms at $400.00 a night per person, many thousands of dollars for dinner, gifts upwards to hundreds of dollars during an onsite visit in hopes of getting a referral from their guests ranging from upwards of 15 to 20 people they host for two days.

This share is actually one of my personal experiences during an onsite visit at a residential treatment program, it was alarming. On day two of the onsite visit I overheard an admissions staff and manager discuss why a client could not be admitted to their program.  It was because this $40,000.00 cost for thirty days could not be met by the parents, they were $1800.00 short to successfully get their addicted son admitted for treatment.  

Do we support the excessive on sites visits for potential referrals or do we advocate for more affordable treatment to help more addicts recover and families become restored.

My prayer is that more treatment owners and leadership consider that this person that they cannot accommodate is one of those human beings that are shackled in fear, hopelessness, despair and loneliness.

 Who God sees is his beloved, his sons and daughters, created for greatness, divine purpose and destiny, just like his cup that he found beauty and profound purpose.  

 I want to hesitate to share but I won’t, that there are far too many people working in the field of addiction that have not done their own work to resolve core wounds, shame, trauma and the rest.  They many times hold judgment and a stigmatic perspective about the very human beings they are suppose to help.  Far too often, what they see, like the potter is the clients imperfection and more. 

This type of experience does not work. This becomes another failed relationship towards an endless path to an unsuccessful recovery.  The clients remain enslaved, shackled and in chains due unhealthy staff who are not well and not trained in ways that truly help clients to become well in mind, body, and spirit and set free.

The rest of my prayer is that more treatment owners and or leadership become flexible with their fees create a way out of no way to help addicted men, women and teens to receive treatment.

I cherish the times I have spent with treatment owners like Iris Healing Retreat, Addiction Therapeutic Services and a handful of others that share, publicly, all that they do to reduce fees and do everything imaginable to admit addicts to their programs and these clients receive the some of the finest and most effective treatment in the country.

We can do better, we can remember why we came to this field which is to help people recover their lives, set free from the shackles and chains of addiction and help restore the family system.

Calling all owners, leaders, clinicians, front line staff, agents for change, thought leaders, let us help as many clients as we can, so more addicts can experience treatment, recovery, become set free, and know that they are valuable and worthy of a recovered life.   

I too was shackled and bound by my addiction and homeless for many years.  I am blessed that Volunteers of America provided me and my new born twins a one year residential treatment and a one year IOP after care program free of charge.  I have been shackle and chain free for almost 26 years.  I am a cup in the hands of a great God who is still in the business of miracles! 

Dr. Jessica Rodriguez, CEO

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