Why can’t we better at treating addictions and other disorders?

Recidivism is the act of a person repeating an undesirable behavior after they had either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or had been trained to extinguish that behavior. It is also used to refer to the percentage of former prisoners who are rearrested for a similar offense

As smart / intelligent / compassionate as we think we are – you’d expect that the recidivism rates in this country, of not the world, would be really low,

But recidivism rates aren’t low at all

Here’s a chart from the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics study that was done on 1994, covering 15 states:

Percent of released prisoners rearrested within 3 years, 1983 and 1994

This doesn’t look good!

In “my” state – and I use that term “my” very loosely, but I do live here – the following stats were put out as being evidence of success in January 2014 –

“The continuing improvement in the state’s recidivism rate is encouraging news for all Californians,” CDCR Secretary Jeff Beard said. “When former offenders are leading productive, law abiding lives, our communities are safer. As we move forward and both CDCR and counties utilize state funds to invest more in evidence-based rehabilitation efforts, I’m confident we will see recidivism rates continue to decline.”

The report’s findings include:

• Nearly 50 percent of inmates who recidivate within three years do so within the first six months.

• Women recidivate at a lower rate (48.9 percent) than men (62.4 percent).

• Although few in number, inmates released after serving an indeterminate sentence recidivate at a much lower rate (11.5 percent) than those who served a determinate sentence (61.0 percent).

• Despite the fact that Los Angeles County had the largest share of inmates released to parole (25.8 percent), its recidivism rate of 50.4 percent is the lowest of the 12 counties with the largest number of releases.

• San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Fresno counties have the highest overall three-year recidivism rates at 75.8 percent, 72.2 percent and 71.3 percent respectively.

• In general, recidivism rates decrease with age. Felons aged 18- to 19-years-old have a 73.7 percent recidivism rate; those age 60 and older have a 45.2 recidivism rate.

• The seriousness of an inmate’s commitment crime is often inversely related to his/her recidivism risk. For example, second-degree murderers have a recidivism rate of 10.3 percent while people convicted of vehicle theft have a 72.5 percent recidivism rate.

• Overall, inmates with identified mental health issues recidivate at a higher rate than those without mental health issues.

Wow.  50% is the best “we” can do.  Most others are in the 70+% area.  That’s pretty much where it was in the 80’s – thirty years earlier.  

What’s wrong?

“we” got too smart.  Or thought “we” were too smart.

More likely – “we” got too arrogant.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus gave us the solution to problems like this – 

Mk 9:25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

There’s no recidivism there.

“I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

But “we” gave up on God.
“we” got “too smart” for God.

“we” don’t believe things like this are caused by Satan.
“we” think this is just part of life.

That it didn’t used to be this way is irrelevant.
“we” know better today.

Addiction, mental disorders / abnormalities, socially unacceptable behavior, deviant behavior – these are “normal” parts of life,
But “we” – the psychologists, psychiatrists, and other “brilliant” people – can take care of it.  The fact that “we” have failed miserably is not evidence that “we” can’t do it.

And if “we” can’t do it – “we” will drug the heck out of them – turn them into zombies – and then “we” will have “succeeded”.

And if that doesn’t work either – “we” will just let them roam the streets and fend for themselves – then they’ll be invisible and “we” will have “succeeded”.

“we” have taken God so far out of our lives – so far out of the solution to problems – that it’s not just “we” taking care of things.  
And “we” are wildly “successful”.  Because “we” declared “success”.
And “we” had the “courage” to declare “success” in the face of obvious evidence that the only true conclusion is dismal failure.

Aren’t “we” smart?

Aren’t “we” awesome?

No – “we” are neither “smart” nor “awesome”

“we” fail – because “we” ignore the obvious –

The Healing of a Boy With an Evil Spirit

9:14-28; 30-32 pp — Mt 17:14-19; 22, 23; Lk 9:37-45

Mk 9:14 When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. 15 As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.
Mk 9:16 “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked.
Mk 9:17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”
Mk 9:19 “O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”
Mk 9:20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.
Mk 9:21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
Mk 9:23 “ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Mk 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mk 9:25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
Mk 9:26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.
Mk 9:28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
Mk 9:29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.’”

I’d like to especially point a few things here –

  • “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
    • Jesus was very clear that this was an evil spirit – that it was from the devil
    • Jesus commanded the spirit to come out.  “we” try to do the same thing with whatever kinds of treatment “we” use to “cure” the problem.
    • Jesus commanded the spirit to never return.  “we” don’t even try for that.  “we” “cure” or “punish” and “we” hope for the best, even though there’s pretty no reason to hope for any positive outcome.  In some cases, “we” fully expect the outcome will be that the person will be worse than before the “cure” / punishment began.
      Isn’t this something very close to the definition of insanity?  As in the insanity of “we”?
  • He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.’”
    • As I said, “we” hope for the best.
      But – do “we” pray to God – as in the way Jesus said to pray?
      Most likely – no.  Worse 0 more and more – prayer is either being discouraged, banned, or outright illegal.

Who is “we”?

By now – I hope you’ve figured out who “we” is.  (yes, the way I’m using “we”, this is grammatically correct.)
“we” is “smart”, “intellectual”, “compassionate”.  “we” has those characteristics in such great quantities that “we” has become better than Jesus.  
“we” has become so great – “we” don’t need Jesus.  
“we”, by a self-proclaimed record of success – is better than Jesus.

I also hope you’re really being honest about who “we” is.
Especially if you’re claiming to be a Christian, and yet you fall into the “we” group.

Jesus gave us the answer.  Some things can only be cured by prayer.  Prayer to God.  Prayer in “the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

Not prayer to some nebulous “god” who doesn’t even exist.

Not prayer to some form of “Jesus” that isn’t the Jesus in the Bible.  

We should remember what Juliet (as in Romeo and Juliet) –

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Jesus has only one name – Jesus.
But not every “Jesus” us the real Jesus.  If He’s not the real Jesus, the one from the New Testament Gospels, the Son of God, He won’t “smell” the same – He isn’t the same.  He isn’t be the Son of God – He is not the object of our prayers (or shouldn’t be) – and He won’t be able to do what the real Jesus did in the verses from Mark.


As I said – Jesus gave us the answer to all of our problems.  Including the recidivism problem.
He gave the answers to all of us.
Even to “we”.
Even to those who think they’re too smart for His answer.
Even to those who ignore Him – and fail.

Am I saying that the “only” answer is prayer?  No.

Am I saying that prayer needs to be part of the solution? Yes.

The Bible is not against appropriate punishment.  If you don’t already know, here’s the origin of the word penitentiary (another word for prison), from dictionary.com

1375-1425; late Middle English penitenciarie priest who administerspenance, prison < Medieval Latin pēnitēntiārius of penance.

So our concept of punishment and prison started with penance and a priest.  It has to do with the state of being penitent; regret for one’s wrongdoing or sinning;contrition; repentance.

How far have “we” come from that idea?
And “we” haven’t moved in the right direction.  
“we” have moved so far from it, that God – a happens all too often these days – is pretty much out of the picture.

For those of us who even claim to be Christian – we shouldn’t follow the path of “we”.

If we really are Christian – we should actually believe Jesus.
If we are really Christian – we should actually follow Jesus.
If we are really Christian – we should not be “we”.

Who are  you?

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