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  • Andrew Hawkins

An Opportunity to Help Those Suffering with an Addiction While Overcoming Your Own!

As 2023 dawns, perhaps we find ourselves reflecting on how we can have a greater influence for good in our world. Perhaps you are specifically wondering if your life could have a greater impact on those suffering from addiction, mental health issues or generational poverty. If so, this post is for you!

In our work with NeighbourLink, we regularly come into contact with people who suffer greatly because of an upbringing characterized by chaos, trauma and abuse. Thankfully, we have a troop of volunteers who assist such individuals by giving rides, being a “phone buddy,” doing yard work, giving financial education and distributing food to the homeless through our newest initiative, Street Frenz. Furthermore, our aWAY Opportunities ministry provides a week at camp for kids who otherwise would probably never get there and our WrapAround program helps participants with complex needs achieve the better life they desire with the assistance of a supportive team.

Another recent development is NeighbourLink's Recover Together (RT) program which is an ongoing support group for any addiction, unhealthy attachment or bad habit.

One of the exciting things about RT is that we are seeing a wide diversity of people attending--some from the most abused and some from the most privileged backgrounds. My observation is that this rarely happens in our society. “Birds of a feather flock together.” In RT, however, we have been able to break down some dividing walls for a couple of reasons, I think.

Firstly, those who’ve had a relatively good childhood realize their own privilege. They seem to understand that most of who and what we are is NOT because of our great skill or wisdom. We didn’t create ourselves. We didn’t give ourselves the abilities we have. We didn’t choose our own families nor did we choose the neighbourhood we would grow up in.

My eyes were opened to the benefits of my upbringing when I began to pastor my first church, an inner-city outreach in Hamilton, ON. I grew up in a London, Ontario suburb well outside the city limits, removed from poverty in every sense. When I started the church I subconsciously considered myself a self-made individual. After a short while, however, I realized how wrong I was. I began to understand the importance of my parents, grandparents and other adults in my life. Ten thousand repetitions trained me to say “please and thank you,” brush my teeth and shake someone’s hand when being introduced to them. My parents modelled and taught the value of education and encouraged me to pursue it. For some unknown reason, many of us won the lottery right at birth. The circumstances we were born into provided us with a multitude of advantages and blessings. Understanding this fact is crucial if we desire to be of assistance to others.

The great diversity in RT also works because we who grew up in privileged situations show our solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters. That is, we acknowledge that we too have addictions, unhealthy attachments or bad habits. We may not do crystal meth, but

we do overeat. We may not do crack cocaine, but we gossip. We may not do fentanyl, but we are addicted to being in control. We may not drink to excess, but we’re a slave to the feeling we get when we buy something. To sum up, we admit that in our common, fallen humanity we are all addicted to self.

So whether you're struggling with substance abuse or a screen addiction, perhaps RT is for you. All it takes is a humble, caring attitude, one that says, “None of us is any better than anyone else. We all have faults we’re trying to overcome. Can we walk alongside each other without judgement or blame? Just maybe we'll grow in the process!”

In conclusion, we hope that everyone reading this will have a joyful new year. We hope 2022 gave you some sense of contentment and that 2023 will bring even more as you seek to share your blessings with those who have less!

To find out more about RT please call 519-352-5647 or see the Recover Together Facebook page. For other NeighbourLink programs, please see or call 519-352-5647.


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