Until recently, addiction has been a taboo topic in the church setting, stifled by shame and judgment. Although Alcoholics Anonymous was founded on Christian principles, AA has distanced itself from any religious ties, referring only to a “higher power” of one’s own choosing.
25 years ago, John Baker, after experiencing first-hand the benefits of AA, realized the need to merge the program of AA with the beliefs of Christianity to establish a ministry of recovery at Saddleback Church (led by Rick Warren). This new program, Celebrate Recovery, provided a support group for people who struggled with any addiction, not just alcohol.
“[I]t used to be if someone was an alcoholic or a drug addict or, heaven forbid, they had any kind of issue with anger, then it was hush-hush,” said Huston McComb, a licensed professional counselor who leads Celebrate Recovery at Houston’s First Baptist Church. “We’ve kind of taken that stigma away.”
Christianity Today comments: “While some of the shame around addiction has faded over the decades, Celebrate Recovery has shifted how evangelicals in particular view ‘hurts, habits, and hang-ups.’ The ministry hosts regular meetings at 29,000 churches and has trained more than 100,000 pastors in the recovery process.”
Despite anonymity being respected in both AA and Celebrate Recovery, there are some celebrities who have been forthcoming about their addictions and recoveries (perhaps because living in the limelight never gave them the option for anonymity).
One of the most well-known actors who has struggled with addiction is Robert Downey, Jr. Here’s what he has to say about recovery – “I think that the power is the principle. The principle of moving forward, as though you have the confidence to move forward, eventually gives you confidence when you look back and see what you’ve done.”
Or as the popular AA mantra goes, “fake it till you make it.”