The son of a pastor/evangelist shares his experience of being delivered from the darkness of opioid addiction and the sometimes rough road of recovery that he and his loved ones have traveled.
Title: Darkness Will Not Overcome: One Person’s Struggle and Recovery from Opioids
Author: Richie Halversen
Publisher: Pacific Press, 2019
What are the main concerns being addressed?
The back cover states it well, “Addiction is a disease that affects not only the addict but also everyone who loves them. Spouse, parents, children, friends – addicts end up hurting the ones who love them the most. Just when it seems the addict is getting better, they sink to a whole, new low. The bottom goes deeper and darker. Hope continues to erode until there’s not much left to hold on to. People keep trying to get through to them, but nothing seems to stop the storm.”
Were these concerns clearly stated?
The opioid epidemic is given a name, a face, and a family. Richie Halversen is now a clean cut, fun-loving, minister and dedicated husband and father. Raised as a PK (pastor’s kid), Richie was determined not to be a pastor/evangelist like his father. During his evasion from the call to ministry he was ensnared by an addictive lifestyle that sapped his finances, nearly destroyed family bonds, almost imprisoned him, and was on the verge of extinguishing life itself. A very pivotal point came while he was suffering withdrawals in a rehab program, when he heard God’s voice, “Richie, if you go out that door, you will die, but if you give Me your life, I promise you, you will live again.”
What are the book’s strengths and contributions?
Pastor Halversen doesn’t try to glorify what he used to do under the influence. He only shares illustrations, as necessary, to give us a sense of how out of control his life was becoming. He doesn’t blame his addiction on anyone other than himself. He owns up to the pain he caused his parents, wife, and children. He bravely sought to make amends with people outside his family circle as well. In short, the author lets us know that overcoming addiction and its impact on our loved ones isn’t an instantaneous miracle. We might be able to mark the moment of deliverance but rebuilding relationships, careers, and credibility takes time and commitment. By talking about the people he met in rehab, Richie Halversen reminds us that people of all walks of life are susceptible to substance abuse.
What do you wish the author would have added?
I would have to knit-pick here because Pastor Halversen opens up quite a lot. Some readers might find themselves in a state of unbelief or outrage that the author had so many run-ins with the criminal justice system and got away so many times to repeat similar offenses. Could he have made a more overt warning statement about the likelihood of imprisonment, injury or death to let people know that they’re not likely to escape the number of perils he did? As I reflect on the question and the book, the answer is no. Richie expresses surprise at retaining his freedom sometimes and acknowledges at other times his freedom came at great expense to family members. He keeps the downside in front of the reader and shows that we don’t get away with much, even when we think we have.
What were some good conscience quickening quotes from the book?
“Recovery means getting honest with others and with yourself – especially yourself. Recovery doesn’t…take place overnight. It requires a lifetime of prayer, patience, and persistence.” (p. 10)
“Addiction thrives in helpless situations. But you know what? Do does God!” (p. 47)
“Food had started tasting better. Laughing became more genuine. So many things you took for granted while using start being reborn in recovery. What was only used for survival in addiction starts to be appreciated for what it truly is…Taste buds start exploding with flavor.” (p. 75)
“You cannot appreciate anything when you’re high except the high itself. But after you stop using, after a few days, suddenly you start to see things you couldn’t see before. Like the way my wife seemed to glow!” (p. 81)
“I had to understand that being clean for a few weeks does not erase years of abuse, neglect, and hardship. Over the coming days, weeks, months, even years, it took time for the wounds of addiction to start to heal…I would come to discover that very few marriages make it after the abuses of addiction. It was by grace that I was blessed to have one that did.” (p. 99)
What was so liberating about the book?
Pastor Halversen’s communication training comes through by providing a well-written story that’s more of a confession than a sermon. He shares how dark addiction can be, but how the light of God’s love overpowered that darkness. This isn’t through a bunch of Bible texts strewn together, but most effectively through the redemptive love of family members and the merciful actions of others that helped him on the road to recovery and restoration.