PUBLISHED THURSDAY NOVEMBER 20, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All rights
Addicts may be getting false hope, experts say
Spiritual salvation only part of cure
By Kimberly Blair
News Journal staff writer
PENSACOLA - Drug addicts kick their habit on the
Alcoholics never touch another drop.
It 's a miracle. Or is it?
Brownsville Revival evangelist Steve Hill has said in
the pulpit and in an interview with the News Journal that he has seen "drug
addicts immediately delivered" at the revival.
He claims he himself was instantly washed clean of drug
addiction, and he describes his salvation in his 55-page autobiography,
"Stone Cold Heart."
Drug treatment professionals, however, say spiritual salvation
can be the catalyst for an addict to change, but they say few, if any,
can spontaneously kick a long-held habit without treatment or support programs.
To imply otherwise "gives false hope, said Leo Donnelly
executive director of The Friary a residential treatment center in Gulf
Breeze that helps people overcome drug and alcohol dependency.
The Friary has been open 20 years and is a service of
Lakeview Center Inc.
All too often, Donnelly said, addicts who believe they
are healed return to the same environment that fueled their addiction.
Because they did not have the support and treatment to fight the addiction,
they lapse back, Donnelly said.
Revival testimonies, however, particularly the ones given
during emotion-charged baptism testimonies on Friday nights, tell a different
Self-proclaimed drug addicts, dope pushers and alcoholics
testify they lost their addictions when they received the Holy Ghost at
Psychiatric patients testify they are throwing away their
medications because the revival is their cure.
And now, area mental health care centers are reporting
an increase in psychiatric patients. The majority of new patients are out-of-towners
who came to Pensacola for the revival.
"Some are the disenfranchised who hear there is an organization
that says it is offering something new," said Dr. David Josephs, a psychologist
with Lakeview Center Inc. "They seem to gravitate to that."
Mental health center officials are careful not to say
that any people being treated have sought treatment directly because of
the revival. Many had psychological problems before coming to the revival,
the official said.
On one revival service videotape on sale at the church,
14 people claim to have been freed from decades of addiction when they
accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
Hill often underscores that, enthusiastically announcing
that drug addicts don 't need treatment programs.
"You don 't need The Friary, brother. All you need is
Jesus," Hill roars during many revival meetings.
But 16 years of work in treating chemical dependency has
taught Donnelly to doubt instant "cures."
"Those who stop do it with support like with 12 steps,"
Brownsville leaders also have publicly said that the revival
is putting a dent in drug use in Escambia County by saving drug dealers
But addiction treatment centers paint a different picture
of the area 's problem.
"Our admissions are going up," Donnelly said.
Since 1993, Friary admissions have steadily climbed, he
said, from 250 admissions in 1993-94 to 398 admissions in 1996-97.
"These are just the residential numbers. We have three
levels of care," Donnelly said. Numbers are up in all segments, he said.
Twelve Oaks, a treatment center in Navarre, is also seeing
more addicts."Business has almost doubled," said Jo Jarrett, human resource
coordinator ' for Twelve Oaks.
None report a decrease.
Lakeview 's Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Services has seen
no change in demand for services during the past two years, said spokeswoman
"We have from 1,200 to 1,400 in our service. That has
been steady, Mika said.
The Pavilion at Columbia West Florida Regional Medical
Center has felt no impact from the revival, said spokeswoman Regina Hudson.
Mobile Metro Treatment, a methadone treatment center in
Mobile that treats Pensacola clients, also reports no change.
"Our numbers have held steadily overall," said Brian Peace,
a drug treatment counselor.
Peace said he heard about the Brownsville Revival from
"He said, 'I have been there and found it to be a positive
experience," ' Peace said. "But as far as if they have been cured and have
kicked their methadone treatment? No, I have not seen that."
Donnelly said spontaneous freedom from addiction is not
unheard of. In fact, he said, about one in every 62 addicts has had a healing
experience and never has the addiction again.
"I 'm not knocking the revival. The goal is to get them
clean and sober. They may be helping people who abuse drugs or alcohol,"
"But to say to everyone who comes in, 'Step forward and
be healed, ' won 't work, he said. "Addiction is something that takes years
and years and years to treat."