Sunday, April 25, 2010

Transform Your Mind, Change Your Brain. Treating Addiction Through The Practice Of Meditation.



The 11th Step in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it very simply, "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out." The early founders of AA had hit upon a profound and yet simple solution to the problem of addiction which modern day medical science is only now beginning to understand.

In the video above made available by Google Dr. Richard J. Davidson discusses what he calls "Contemplative Neuroscience" and explains in great detail how simple practices like meditation, contemplative prayer, or the practice of solitude (whatever your religious tradition happens to call it) can be used to remold the brain and transform the mind in a positive way. He recommends the practice of meditation over the more conventional "drug therapies" in the treatment of mental problems such as alcoholism and addiction. His research bears out what Buddhist Monks and Mystics of all religious traditions have known for centuries; that meditation can not only improve one's conscious contact with God, but also improve one's quality of life in the here and now. The video is over an hour in length, but is well worth the time spent in watching.

God Bless,

Ralph

Thursday, April 8, 2010

ACA Lawn Care Service.

In a continuing effort to raise funds to support the work of Alcoholic Clerics Anonymous, and to carry the ministry out full-time, we have restarted our ACA Lawn Care Service for the third year. ACA Lawn Care Service is looking for residential customers in the communities of Hermitage, Wheatland, and Bolivar Missouri and surrounding areas. Funds raised will go towards the continued operation of Alcoholic Clerics Anonymous. Average cost of lawn mowing and trimming using our service is $18 to $22 for average size residential lot. Get your yard done while supporting a great cause! If interested contact Ralph at:

stfrancisplace@centurytel.net


Many Thanks,

Ralph

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alcoholic Clerics Anonymous

Alcoholic Clerics Anonymous (ACA) is a 12 Step program of recovery patterned after AA which reaches out to clerics and church workers suffering from alcoholism who seek to remain sober and help others recover from addiction. It is an Internet forum in which clerics and church workers in recovery can network together and support one another sharing from their own experience, strength and hope from the perspective of Cleric, Priest, Minister, Rabbi, or church worker. ACA is Non-Denominational, Inter-Faith, and open to all who seek recovery from Alcoholism and to help others to grow in recovery.

We can currently be found online, and are working to establish a face to face Outreach in the Springfield/Branson Mo. area. If you or someone you love could benefit from such a program you can obtain more information by contacting Ralph at the email address in the right hand side bar. If you would like to make a donation to this ministry, simply click on the donate bar at the top right hand side of this page, and fill our whatever amount you would like. We are supported by private donations, and your support is important for the growth of this ministry.

Thank You and God Bless!

Ralph L. ACA

Why ACA?

Some people have asked why there is a need for a program like ACA. Many people do not realize that pastors and church workers suffer from addictions as much as anybody else. In fact some studies show that alcoholism is actually higher among clerics than in the general population. But clerics are usually in a position where they do not feel able to reach out for help as easily as a common person. Clerics usually have the attitude of putting the needs of others before their own needs, and being the ones their parishioners go to for strength and advice. They are more used to helping than in being helped. Also many clerics find themselves in a position where they feel they can not admit to a problem like alcoholism or addiction in general. As a result of these perceptions many clerics who suffer from addiction suffer in silence, until things get so bad that the problem becomes painfully obvious, not just to the cleric, but to the congregation as well.

ACA provides a confidential forum in which clerics can come forward with their problems knowing they are dealing with fellow clerics who have been down the same road. In ACA we do not go by full name (usually just first name and last initial) so as to respect anonymity. And our online forum allows the assurance that confidentiality will be respected. In this environment ACA is free to give the help needed to aid our fellows in their recovery from addiction. In ACA we offer the service of one cleric talking to another in regards to recovery helping both to remain sober.

There are other programs like ACA out in the world today, but these other programs usually are limited in scope to only clerics of a particular denomination and are unable due to the restraints of time and finances to reach beyond their particular denominational lines. Smaller denominations and churches which do not have such programs in place tend to be left out in such work. ACA is Inter-Faith and Non-Denominational in its scope. Anyone who honestly seeks to recover is welcome. We currently have Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists and others working together to help one another in recovery. We find as alcoholics, addicts, and clerics that we have more than enough common ground on which to operate.

What Is The ACA Program Like?

The ACA Program is patterned very much after the basic AA Program. The exceptions are that we consider our service a ministry and reach out primarily to clerics. We use the same 12 Steps as AA, paying particular emphasis to the practice of Prayer and Meditation found in Step 11. Plus we come from the clerical point of view in which fellow clerics find they are welcome to share their own particular stories of finding sobriety in a church or religious setting. Sharing from our own experiences we seek to help others avoid some of the pitfalls we ourselves have encountered.

As with other 12 Step Programs ACA focuses on Spiritual Growth. We find, in recovery, that clerics experience a profound Spiritual change; one which allows them to become better pastors, ministers, rabbis, and people in general. This kind of Spiritual growth taking place in an Inter-Faith forum allows for a new openness to emerge in the life of each particular cleric. The awareness that we are all Children of a Common God sinks in, and clerics are able to open up in their ministries as they never could before. In ACA we help the Spiritual Leaders of today become better Spiritual people in recovery, allowing them to experience a closer relationship with God and their fellows. In this work lives are changed, and ministries revitalized!

How Can You Help?

ACA is currently trying to raise awareness of our program both globally and locally in the Springfield Mo. area. If you know of someone who might benefit from the ACA Program, please pass this information along to them. The more people we enlist in our network of recovery the better job we can do in helping our fellows in recovery. To date ACA has members in several different countries with a variety of different lengths of sobriety. Some have been sober only a few days, while others have been sober for years. We have a collective of over 60 years of recovery in the group at present, and we are just getting started! Help us in getting the word out.

Another way people can help is by making donations to this ministry. ACA is not supported by any one church or denomination. We are completely reliant upon private contributions for the continuation of our work. Any donations received go into the ministry, and are deeply appreciated!

If you have any other questions please feel free to contact ACA at the email address listed in the sidebar to the right. Thank you for your time in considering the work of ACA!

Blessings,

Rev. Ralph L.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Commonly Asked Questions.

Is Alcoholism Really A Problem For Clerics?

Yes. Alcoholism and addiction affect clerics just like other people, perhaps even worse. Some statistics indicate that alcoholism among clerics may be twice the rate of the general population. That would put the rate of alcoholism in the clergy at roughly 10%. If the cleric serves in a church or religious organization which views alcoholism as taboo, especially in regards to the cleric, then the problem is magnified. Plus most clerics are conditioned to put the needs of others ahead of their own. In this kind of environment a cleric is very likely to hide their problem as much as possible. Alcoholism, even under the best of circumstances, is a disease of denial. In dealing with a profession in which the person is believed to be above reproach, denial is even more of a problem. Thus many alcoholic clerics will tend to cover up their alcoholism until the problem becomes too great to ignore. This can result in numerous problems for both the cleric and their church before the core problem of addiction becomes acknowledged and the cleric brought into treatment. Many lives can be broken and vocations lost in this slow spiral down the slippery slope of addiction. If the cleric can be counseled to see his or her problem early on, and enter into a program of recovery before things get too bad, much misery can be avoided both for the cleric, their family, and their respective churches and religious organizations.

Why Is The Rate Of Alcoholism So High Among Clerics?

There are many reasons for this. Some research has shown that clerics and church workers and volunteers alike tend to come from homes in which alcoholism and addictions were a problem. A friend of mine who did church workshops on alcoholism would go into meetings of the church leadership and ask for a show of hands as to how many people there had family histories of alcoholism. Usually 80% would raise their hands. According to his view these people of faith who grew up in environments where alcoholism was a problem also grew up with the message that there was nothing a person could do for the alcoholic except hand them over to the Grace of God. In many areas of the world today alcoholism has such a low recovery rate, that this attitude can be very common. Seeing their family afflicted with a problem to which only God could be turned to for the answer, some go into church work or the ministry in an attempt to help themselves and others. The problem is that many of these people ignore the 12 Steps and other proven methods of recovery, and tend to operate according to their faith and religious understandings alone. Thus you can easily see where many religious organizations might be filled with either alcoholics, adult children of alcoholics, or other family members of alcoholics all seeking out help from above while ignoring programs of recovery below.

Another factor is stress. Ministry, even where alcohol is not a factor, is a high stress highly demanding vocation in which the rate of burnout is high. It is not uncommon for people in high stress positions to "self medicate" by turning to alcohol or other drugs. We see this in ministry as well as law enforcement and the medical community. They turn to the quick fix of drugs and alcohol until some become addicted...leading only to more problems for themselves and others.

Can Alcoholism Be Treated Effectively?

Absolutely Yes!!! The most common approach to treatment are the 12 Steps founded by AA back in the 1930's. When this method is applied in a recovery group like ACA where members are in the company of those who have experienced recovery for themselves and can guide others through the Steps, chances of recovery are greatly improved. Also of benefit in the treatment of alcoholism is the practice of Contemplative Prayer and Meditation. Step 11 speaks of this, but it tends to be glossed over in many groups today. People who practice the 12 Steps within the context of a good support group, plus the 11th step of Prayer and Meditation, greatly improve their odds of recovery. Speaking from my own experience, I tried working the Steps on my own for many years without success. Only when I worked the 12 Steps with the help of a sponsor who also instructed me to spend time daily in Meditation and in regular group meetings, did I experience relief of my alcoholism. I drank for over 25 years, and thought myself to be beyond help. If I can get this program and find recovery, anyone can!