Gooden Center
A residential drug treatment center for men located in Pasadena, CA. The Gooden Center is a proud member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP).

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191 North El Molino Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 US

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Archive for November, 2014

Applying Christian Values in Recovery

Posted on: November 24th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Within almost any religious faith, there are people who have found resources for working on recovery from addiction within that tradition. Addiction is about living an out of control and powerless life, and so our healing can be greatly helped through an understanding of God, someone more powerful then us to whom we can surrender control and through whom we can be empowered.

That it why many addiction recovery programs strongly agree with Alcoholics Anonymous that the process of recovery should be thought of as “spiritual experience,” and always open to the influence of a “Power greater then themselves.” The teachings and values of the Christian tradition can certainly offer a lot of wisdom to someone seeking recovery from addiction.

Here are a few ways that a person of the Christian faith can think about his or her beliefs as vital resources in the struggle for sobriety.

Grace, Forgiveness, and Sanctification

A core belief of Christianity is that, through Christ’s death on the cross, “You have been freed from sin and enslaved to God…For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 6:22-23). In other words, we do not and cannot earn salvation from our sins, but because God loves us, His Son paid the penalty for our sins, and set us free from them, giving us undeserved grace instead of punishment.

 However, this does not mean that we can continue to a sinful life, because forgiveness also transforms us and redeems us to live a righteous life for God.  This was perhaps best communicated in Luke 8, when Jesus encountered a woman that other people wanted to kill for her adultery.

Christ’s first words are of grace, confronting the people threatening and accusing her with their own sinfulness. In this way, he councils non-judgment with the words “let anyone among you who is without sin cast the first stone” (Luke 8:7). He then further encourages her, not only telling her she is loved the way she is, but also setting her free to live in a new, redeemed and sinless way, with “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and leave your life of sin.”

Honesty through Grace

Redemptive grace is an absolutely essential concept that can help you in the midst of recovery. Just as God has forgiven you, so you to must learn to forgive yourself.  Drug and alcohol abuse is created and sustained through shame and denial, but the first step to accepting forgiveness is to “confess your sins.” That means being honest with yourself, having a good, hard, realistic look at your behavior.

Grace frees you up to be able to do this. No matter what you have done, you are not outside of the love of God. Therefore, you might as well look at yourself honestly. This will lead you to admitting you have a problem, a very important first step in beginning recovery.

Beyond this, through the Holy Spirit, the believer can have hope that he or she is being sanctified, more like he or she was created to be.  This hope that recovery is possible is going to be a really important as you walk down the sometimes hard road of trying to get sober. Faith in God will enable you to not feel overpowered when things get tough.

Proper Application of Scripture in Daily Life

Addiction is rooted in faulty thinking and unwise decision-making. The good news is that Christ makes us into new creatures, and transforms our sinful minds into something better. The road to recovery may be hard, but you can have faith that God can transform and re-create anyone into a more whole person. Both prayer (talking to God) and Bible study (hearing God speak to us) can be essential ways to transform our thinking, and can be a part of a holistic recovery plan.

Hong-Kong Christians Join Protest

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Over the past few weeks, the world’s eyes have been on Hong Kong, and many stories of people engaging in popular, nonviolent direct action in protest over mainland China’s attempt to control the island city’s 2017 election.  There is one aspect of the story that is sometimes getting overlooked by news reports – these protests often have a very strongly Christian flavor.

Christian Protesters In Hong Kong

17 year-old Joshua Wong, the top leader of Scholarism, one of the main student activist groups organizing the protests, is Christian, and explains that his motivation behind his participation comes from a firm belief that everyone “is born equal and loved by Jesus.”

In 2012, when Joshua was 15, his organization got 120,000 students to rally and successfully force Hong Kong schools to drop a proposal to introduce pro-Maoist “National and Moral Education” into the curriculum.  Overwhelmed by this success, he has set his sights on total press freedom and universal suffrage for the island city.

82 year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, is also taking part in the protests, spending the night with the young students. He himself fled Shanghai in 1949 after the Communist takeover, and thus directly benefited from Hong Kong’s higher levels of religious freedom.

 He is deeply fearful of a Chinese takeover of his adopted home, saying that Hong Kong has an atmosphere of “a culture of the truth and respect for the dignity of people,” while Beijing’s government creates a world with “immediate interests. No spiritual value.”

Role Of Churches

Joshua Wong and Cardinal Zen are two Christian activists from two different generations, but they represent thousands of people who are both protesting perceived injustice in Hong Kong, and doing so for reasons deeply rooted in Christian faith. Prayer groups, crosses, and Bible reading has all been a highly visible part of the protest activities.

Churches are playing a role in shaping the direction of the protests, even though they are divided.  Some have officially opposed the protests or encouraged a neutral stance, such as Anglican Archbishop Paul Kwong has encouraged his parishioners to “remain silent” on democracy issues.

However, others have provided first aid and support to participants. The doors of Methodist, Anglican, and Catholic churches have given refuge and places to sleep, and Catholic and Protestant student groups have worked together to give food to the people camping out outside government buildings.

A Growing Religious Group Showing Its Activist Potential

According to a report by Operation Mobilization, Hong Kong is home to 320,000 Protestants and 243,000 Catholics, in a city with a total population of 7 million.

Many of these Christians feel that as Mainland Chinese control of Hong Kong increases, the level of religious tolerance has decreased. The government has torn a brand new church down, and has demanded others remove crosses from their buildings.  Hence, they have a deep interest in helping to maintain the relative independence of Hong Kong from Beijing control.

In 1997, when the Chinese government took over rule of Hong Kong from Great Brittan, it did so with the promise that it would remain an autonomous region, with freedoms unknown to most people under Chinese rule. However, many people in Hong Kong feel that the Chinese government has not kept its agreement, especially with its recent demand that all candidates for the upcoming election be approved by the Communist party.

China has seen phenomenal growth in the Christians, who are able to take a more active role in society, and presenting a real and powerful threat to the country’s avoided Marxist atheism.   Both pro-democracy activists, and Chinese government leaders have expressed that these efforts for more freedom to Hong Kong will eventually influence how people on the mainland.  Thus, as more people in China convert to Christianity, it could have potentially radical transformations on China’s government.

5 Friends You Need in Early Recovery

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

There is an African proverb that goes, “Sharing the road with friends divides your sorrows and multiples your joys.”  You may find this to be especially true as you  begin the road to recovery from addiction.  Learning how to live without an addiction can be a very hard process, that can make the world feel like a strange place.  When you feel your own strength failing, or you feel overwhelmed, having people with you can offer support and encouragement that can get you through hard times.  Two of the biggest triggers for relapse are boredom and loneliness, and these are both things against which friendship can be the best protection. It will not be helpful for you to simply go back to your old relationships with other addicts.

So instead, here are a few people who can become your friend and offer essential support as you begin your recovery.

1) A Friend Who Is Experienced In Recovery

It may be easy to feel like your experiences of addiction and the struggle of recovery are unique, and that you are all alone in facing what you are dealing with. However, the deeply comforting truth is that many other people have faced these same issues before you.  Honest contact with people who have been sober for a long time is essential. They can help to guide you, giving you practical advice and warning you of potential pitfalls, since they understand what you going through.  They can also offer you hope and encouragement that recovery is possible.

2) A Friend Going Through Recovery With You

You also will benefit from partners going through the journey of recovery with you, facing similar issues. These mutually beneficial relationships can be deeply empowering, as you find ways to practice self-examination and honesty with each other, encouraging each other to journey in recovery together.  One of the best ways to find these relationships is by becoming a part of a recovery support group, where you can meet lots of people who will share their stories of addiction and recovery, allowing you to connect further with someone whose story you may particularly identify with.

3) A Friend Who Will Listen and Not Be Judgmental

Recovery can bring up a lot of hard feelings.  Formally, the things you were addicted to could offer a way to bury or ignore your hard feelings, your stressful moments, or trauma from your past.  Now, without the pain-numbing sensation of drugs, you may find a lot of issues bubbling up to the surface. While some of these things might need the professional guidance of a therapist, a friend can also be immensely helpful simply by giving you a safe space to talk through your feelings, and simply listening and supporting you.

4) A Friend Who Can Challenge You To Keep Your Commitment To Recovery

Many people who fall into particular addictions may have deeper-rooted issues of what is called an “addictive personality.” Unexamined impulses towards thrill-seeking and compulsive behavior may drive you to commit dangerous and unpleasant actions in an effort to get your next “fix.”

Sometimes these strong pulls can be so overpowering that it’s really difficult to conquer them yourself, and you may respond by burying the truth of your behavior behind layers of denial.  A true friend will help you see past this denial, showing you the truth about yourself so that you can deal with your impulses openly and honestly, so they can be handled in a more intentional way.

5) A Friend With Whom You Can Find New Ways To Enjoy Life

However, this is not meant to suggest that recovery is all hard work and painful feelings. True recovery means learning how to un-learn the bad habits of addiction, and replace them with better habits of learning how to truly enjoy and live life to the fullest. Friends who can simply “hang out,” and encourage you to try new, fun activities, and people you can talk and laugh with, are extremely helpful in learning how to enjoy your new sober life.

Shia LaBeouf Finds Christianity

Posted on: November 14th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Even at a young age, beginning with his role in the Disney channel show Even Stevens, Shia LaBeouf has been a well known actor noted for a deep commitment to playing a wide variety of roles. He has also been noted for sometimes strange behavior and sometimes troubling actions including an accident allegedly caused by him driving under the influence of alcohol and multiple arrests for violent behavior.

Thus, he created a lot stir when, in 2014 interview with Interview Magazine, Shia revealed that he has decided to become a Christian, under the influence of people he was working with while creating the up-coming movie Fury.

His Decision to Pursue Christianity

Previously, he has expressed a lot of pride in his Jewish identity, writing in the book I am Jewish, compiled in memory of slain ournalist Daniel Pearl, that he “has a relationship with God that happens to work within the confines of Judaism.”

He credits his work the movie “Fury,” with his changed decision. In the interview, he states, “I found God during Fury,” a process he describes as “a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control.” Actor Brad Pitt and director David Ayers were influential in this decision.

Brad Pitt does not identify as a Christian, though he was raised in a Pentecostal church, while David Ayers practices Christianity in a highly visible way.  The three men engaged each other on issues of faith and how it impacts their identity, leading to Shia to make this decision.

He further explains his decision, and how these conversations impacted how he reflected on his life. “I’ve been a runner my whole life, running from myself” explaining past controversial behaviors, including struggles with substance abuse. “I’m a dude who loves delusion.” His conversion is part of a life change involving taking a more honest look at himself and his behavior.

The Controversy

There is some controversy that this may be a publicity stunt, or an intense form of “method acting,” since Shia’s character in the film Fury is a devout Christian. While that is a possibility, we can not fully know what is truly going on in his heart.

 We can still learn from his example, that being open to God’s movement in our life can be transformative.  Lots of people can identify with the sense of identity that Shia articulates, and find that, in Christ, they can achieve a sense of peace that comes from God redeeming them and loving them unconditionally.

Some Christians are troubled that LaBeouf continues to use language that might be offensive to some Christians, even describing his conversion as “not a fucking bullshit way,” leading some to question his commitment to his new faith identity.

 People who feel this way may expect everyone’s faith story to look like theirs, and invite a troubling sense of judgmentalism that is dramatically opposed to Jesus’ attitude that “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents then over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Personal Transformation

Christians in recovery recognize, perhaps more then others that radical personal transformation is not something that happens instantaneously. The decision to live a Godly life is a very hard process, requiring continual growth, and a commitment that must be renewed daily.

Even simply “baby steps” towards a better life can be monumental and worthy of celebration in God’s eyes.  In our own lives, and in Shia LaBeouf’s we must appreciate the whole journey of slowly learning how to renew ourselves by God working in and through us.

5 Tips on How to Enrich Your Recovery

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by The Gooden Center No Comments

Recovery from addiction can sometimes be a difficult process, requiring you to unlearn deeply ingrained habits, replacing them with better habits. It is among the most important and radical lifestyle changes you can make, and can only be taken one day at a time. Yet, there are things you can do to help make it a successful transition into sobriety.

Here are five pointers that you can put into practice to have a more successful recovery.

1) Replace Enabling Relationships With a Network Of Support In Your Recovery

While an addict, you probably had plenty of people around you supporting your habit, either by engaging in substance abuse along with you, or by enabling, protecting you from the negative consequences of your actions.  One of the first steps to recovery is to remove yourself from social settings where your addiction was normalized and encouraged. However, you should not isolate yourself, simply avoiding all parties or people out of fear.

Recovery is too big of a commitment to go through on your own. Through support groups, a sponsor, a trained therapist, and friends willing to truly support your decision to become sober, you can get the encouragement and wisdom of others.  Through their support, you can better learn how to better live a sober life.

2)Create an Action Plan to Handle Transition Time

With the help of these supportive friends, learn how to recognize some of the difficulties that will come about when you try to transition from addiction to sobriety. Remember, recovery is about replacing the bad habits of addiction with better habits, and thus requires that you recognize your own warning signs and work out a way to deal with them.

Know what to say when you are offered a drink or drug, and work out alternatives for dealing with stress or bad feelings that don’t involve numbing the pain with substance abuse. Having a plan or a routine to set yourself up for success is a big deal in early recovery so have a go to activity.

3) Have Fun, and Create Habits To Bring Balance To Your Environment

Addiction is an all-encompassing obsession that often obliterates your ability to attend to areas of life necessary for thriving or enjoying life.  Amid all the stresses of being sober, be sure to take time to enjoy the moments, do things that bring happiness and make you thrive as a person.

Rather then spending all of your time trying not to relapse, focus on good things and ways to have a fun life without drugs. Many people also report that volunteering and taking time to help others gives fulfillment and makes life worth living. Taking time to bring organization and beauty to a cluttered environment is also a good way to busy yourself and make your life feel more productive.

4) Take Care Of Yourself

Regular diet, exercise, and sleep are very important ways to make sure you stay in good health, and feel better about yourself, so you are less likely to consider drug use.  Remember to avoid HALT – being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired can bring tensions you may not be aware of, and make a relapse likelier.

As an addict, you were harming your health considerably, so it is important to take time to really care for yourself.  Setting a regular schedule for these things, sleeping, waking, and eating around the same time, will bring stability to these new habits and make them more likely to stick, and will help your body set new rhythms.

5)  Take Time For Activities To Be Thankful and Self-Aware

Not only take yourself physically, but pay attention to your emotional and spiritual self. Regular prayer or meditation is a very useful way of re-ordering your life around something bigger then yourself. Journaling can be a useful way to process your thought. Whatever you choose, take time to reflect on the significance and freedom from every moment in sobriety.