The History of Breaking Addiction Meetings

Connection to God and community removes shame and stigma, and replaces it with hope.

We are designed to want for and engage with community.

In April of 2017, I was struggling with addiction and my family had left because of my behavior.

I remember the day. My girlfriend said she wanted to leave with our six-month-old daughter for a few days and stay at her mother’s. We had been fighting for months, Lauren needed a break.

Proverbs 18:1 One who has isolated himself seeks his own desires; he rejects all sound judgment.

I escalated quickly and said if you leave then do not come back. I went back and forth between ill be better off alone, I’ll be better with someone else, and please stay. I think back to that day, and it made perfect sense at the moment. I allowed panic and anxiety to take over my mind.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

After moving out, my girlfriend had filed for a restraining order within a few weeks. I was calling, texting and showing up to the point it was becoming aggressive harassment.

I was unable to see my daughter for the first couple of months until court. I remember those nights in my home being alone and how I felt so isolated. I was suicidal, depressed and I could sometimes hear my daughter upstairs crying even though she was gone. It would break me.

God sent men and women into my life, and they carried a broken man to Jesus. These strangers prayed for me, gave me space when needed and gentle offers to visit their church.

Romans 15:1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

After giving it a chance and attending church I became involved with community, small groups, bible studies, and church services, I began to open up about my situation. It was healing for me to let these things come into the light. As I opened up, I started developing real genuine bonds and connections.

After sharing about the depression I felt when going home to an empty house, a friend recommended that I start a small group (bible study) in my home to create new memories.

So I did.

Every Friday we met for dinner at my home at 6 pm, with plenty of kids and families attending. We would start the bible study around 7 pm. Just reading a few verses and talking. The new memories of laughter and fellowship filled my home, and the light of God cast out all darkness.

God was building and restoring my connection to community; this gave me hope that I was not destined to be alone. The lie of isolation was slowly dissolving.

The small group in my home started to grow. The group attracted my neighbors and people from multiple churches. Many old friends started coming when they heard about my change of heart.

The majority of those coming to seek God had some type of addiction in their past or current situation.

Hebrews 13:1-2 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

The group grew from five people to ten people, and within a couple of months, we had twenty people. The group became so large that I decided to approach Covenant Church to host the meeting.

By this time Christ had set me free from my addictions and given me new life. Literally new connections and hope for a future.

Lauren and I were back together and engaged to be married. Our daughter was baptized, and we attended church together as a family.

The first Breaking Addiction Meeting in the church was held on April 12th, 2018. Lauren and my daughter were both there to help set up the chairs for the meeting.

Lauren & Emily at the first Breaking Addiction Meeting

Sixty people came to that first meeting.

This was finding purpose.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

My entire life I was surrounded by ‘friends,’ and yet I always felt disconnected. I always felt there was something lacking. It was a God-sized void that only Jesus was capable of restoring.

Lauren is now my wife, our entire family has been baptized, Lauren and myself were freed from our addictions, we are so grateful to be in a position of helping others. The Breaking Addiction Meetings have run for 48 weeks. The meetings have been a blessing to be a part of. The community that has developed is the closest thing to family I have ever had.

Please keep this in mind. When you are trying to help someone get sober, do not threaten them with more isolation and shame. Jesus uses connection and hope.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Abba Father we thank you for adding all these things to us when we seek you. When we no longer seek our desires you place everything good back in its right place. Give us the strength to love one another as You have loved us. We praise You and ask that Your will be done. In Jesus name, Amen.


Shawn O’Donnell

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