Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio Says the New Year Is the Perfect Time to Start Fresh with a Sober Lifestyle
Philadelphia—Lose weight. Exercise more. Be more patient. Watch less TV. Stop drinking caffeine. Quit smoking. Millions around the world see the New Year as a perfect time to start fresh and turn away from “bad habits.” But for those struggling with sobriety, failing to make a change in 2015 could have life or death consequences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol use leads to nearly 90,000 deaths every year in the U.S. and approximately 2.5 million years of potential life lost—shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years. Excessive drinking is also responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20 to 64.
Psychiatrist Karl Benzio, M.D., founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network (www.lighthousenetwork.org), a Christian addiction and mental health counseling helpline, says that the start of 2015 is the perfect time to commit to a life of sobriety. And it’s the greatest gift we can give to family and friends—a life free from drugs and alcohol.
“So many New Year’s resolutions go out the window just a few weeks after we make that commitment on January 1,” Benzio said. “But for those struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction, the decision to get and stay sober in the New Year must be more powerful than a passing resolution. Committing to sobriety takes dedication, resolve and support from others, whether it be from family and friends or from a support group. Now is the time to make sobriety a goal in 2015.”
Benzio shared these 10 tips for getting—and staying—sober in the New Year:
- Perform honest and deep self-reflection and assessment. Ask yourself, “How am I really doing? Am I relying on a crutch to soothe myself to get through life?”
- Define your real goals. Write down goals that are spiritual, psychological, relational, physical and emotional. Think about goals surrounding lifestyle, habits and finances as well, and find a way to track these goals.
- Identify obstacles that interfere with attaining your goals. What can be changed to get rid of those obstacles?
- Be open to getting the best treatment you can afford to get your life back on track. It’s always safer, better and less costly to err on the side of over-treatment than under-treatment. Options include residential, outpatient, support meetings and medications, if properly prescribed.
- Develop good relationships. Choose two or three people with whom you can be completely honest. Then, be honest with them.
- Change your instruction manual. Be willing to admit that your own instruction manual for living life isn’t working, and learn to trust one with a much better track record—The Holy BIBLE (Best Instruction Book for Living Everyday).
- Accept the direction of trusted consultants. Choose two mature Christians who show that they employ life management skills in their own lives to advise you on how to run your life for maximum fulfillment and peace.
- Admit the root of your addiction. Know that many addictions come from someone trying to escape or self-medicate their past mistakes and underlying defects and wounds. Many stumble or relapse because they haven’t fully uncovered their deeper issues or healed old wounds. A 2015 commitment will take digging down to the foundation to address these issues and wounds.
- Forgive yourself and others. Start the process of forgiving yourself and those friends, family members or acquaintances with whom you’ve had some sort of relational conflict.
- Connect with God. Stop running from Him. Pray, but don’t make it a monologue. Spend time listening to God, then talk with your trusted advisors about what God is saying to you. And act on it!
Benzio shares insights on mental health issues in the one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” airing on approximately 425 radio stations across the country, including 200 stations in the American Family Radio Network. “Life Change” brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine some common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s obstacles. For more information, visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/life-change-with-dr-karl/.
Lighthouse Network works to guide struggling people through storms to achieve peace and find answers for those who have a hard time defining their problems. Lighthouse Network also offers the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242). Several resources are available through www.lighthousenetwork.org as well as through Lighthouse Network’s free daily Stepping Stones devotionals found at www.lighthousenetwork.org/stepping-stones.