Kicking Addiction and Finding Purpose: A Powerful Restoration Plan

“Can finding my purpose help me with addiction? Or do I have to get over addiction to find my purpose?”

My client asked this question with such sincerity, and I appreciated it so much, that I decided to share Keith’s story this week. To answer my client’s question, but hopefully to answer yours too.

(From my friend active in AA … “Denial is deeper than the craving to drink. Why? It keeps us pointing the finger outward and not inward … that’s the taproot of denial and we cannot see a purpose without our closest friend (whatever we are addicted to) that we believe makes us a better version of ourselves. And, until we begin pointing the finger back at ourselves … drinking and drinking alone, will be the hub of our purpose with no beginning and no end.”)


I’ve worked in the field for 30 years.

I’ve overcome it in my own life.

I’ve seen it destroy lives,







young adults,

and adults.

I’ve seen it becoming more and more socially acceptable, which is quite disturbing. Particularly since social scientists attribute the social acceptability of addictions to be a huge factor in why the numbers are dramatically increasing. Daily.

When I was confronted in my own treatment center about my sugar addiction by an alcoholic and a drug addict, I was one of those who thought that some addictions were OK, some not so much. Mine, of course, was “no big deal.” (Typical words and thought processes of a typical addict!)

I attended my 90 meetings in 90 days, I avidly worked a program diligently with a wonderful sponsor who never once let me off the hook. And I’m very grateful for that.

But now, even attending meetings has been diluted. Rooms full of people smoking like chimneys, somehow consider nicotine acceptable. 

People sit in casinos, draining families of valuable resources, and brag about their sobriety. Porn addiction done in secret is believed to be a “private matter.” 

Recreational drugs, like Ayahuasca, frog serums, psilocybin mushrooms are boasted about in the name of healing retreats. (If they’re so healing, why must someone spend $10-$50k, multiple times a year to gain the benefits that have been disputed by research, and marked by suicide and murder cases?)

Addiction in any form leads to a life without meaning. 

So, which comes first? Sobriety? Or purpose? Purpose? Or sobriety?

Dr. Peter Vernig says: “When you’re caught up with addiction, it becomes your purpose in life. The desire to get high (drunk, obsessed) makes you wake up in the morning. You spend most of your time getting high (drunk, obsessed) or thinking about how you’ll get high (drunk, obsessed). But this is a very shallow type of existence. As you transition into recovery, finding a new sense of purpose and meaning in your life is essential. Without a purpose, you risk sliding back to addiction and mental health issues.”

I believe that the two (purpose and recovery), hand-in-hand, are beautiful partners.

Recovery and purpose fuel one another!

That’s why I would like to share Keith’s story with you this week.

1. What is your trauma?

“I’m one of those people who would have said I didn’t have any trauma. I mean, I fell off a tractor as a kid, and the back wheel ran over my leg and broke it.”

“But a little surgery, and 6 weeks of being in a cast handled that.”

“I grew up in a small farm town. My dad was out in the fields before the sun came up and he came in the house long after sundown.”

“My mother hated her life. Probably because there was so many of us kids. Cooking, cleaning, laundry. Kids fighting. We weren’t bad kids; we were just kids.”

“I grew up outdoors. Alone. And thought it was a great life.”

“I just remember being lonely. My older brother was already in high school when I was born, and the rest were girls between me and him. I played alone mostly and lived in a world of imagination. I wandered fields.  And had imaginary friends. Sometimes they were Cowboys and Indians, sometimes they were aliens.”

“I was introduced to alcohol early when a family moved in to a farm a half a mile down the road. They had a kid about my age, and he introduced me to moonshine.”

“I didn’t know it was alcohol, all I knew was I was never supposed to tell anyone that I got it there.”

“It didn’t taste good. But I noticed that when I drank it, the deep aching of loneliness went away.”

“Several years later, authorities found out about the moonshine and shut them down. Then they suddenly moved away.”

“By this time, I was going into high school, and I realized that beer gave me the same relief from the deep aching of the loneliness.”

“My dad wanted to pass the farming business on to me, but I just wasn’t interested.”

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I did know that I loved playing the guitar. I taught myself.”

“I was told I was pretty good at it.”

“Someone at school asked me if I would come play with him at his church. He was a drummer. They had a keyboard player, and a bass player, but no guitar player.”

“I started playing with them, and really got into it. I mean, I wasn’t religious, but if the stuff they said about God was true, I was at least curious.”

“Although no one ever told me that drinking was bad or wrong, I somehow knew to keep it separate.”

“Just as I was nearing graduation, a ‘really good’ Christian rock band came through town. I knew I wanted to do something like that.”

“I drank just enough before the concert to have the courage to go and talk to the band. I told them I could play a little bit, and asked if they ever took on musicians.”

“Little did I know I was speaking to the music director of the group. He handed me a guitar and said, ‘I don’t know … play me something’. I knew there was an unusual look on his face but didn’t know what it meant until he asked me how soon I could join them. I guess he liked what he heard.”

“To my parent’s dismay, I made arrangements to finish school remotely, and left that weekend.”

“It was everything I hoped it would be. The only real challenge was finding times to drink.”

“But for the most part, I managed slipping away. Until the night I showed up drunk for a concert.”

“I got a good talking to, and I deserved it. I got one more chance. But like a true drunk, I blew it within the next 30 days. And I was out.”

“Everyone says losing your job, getting a DUI, or something like that is usually what wakes you up.”

“Nope. Not me.”

“I refused to go home. I was able to get on with two or three more Christian bands, but the same story occurred every time.”

“After the last one, I couldn’t seem to find anything. I was in a small town and waited tables awhile. Finally, after two months, I got a gig that changed my life. It was one of the better-known Christian bands.”

“I fell in love immediately with their great worship leader. She was beautiful, pure, devoted to God, fun, loving, everything I could’ve ever dreamed of. I just couldn’t mess this one up!”

“Within a year we were married. Little did she know she had married a drunk.”

(From my AA friend … “I realized the only reason I drank alcohol was the buzz. Not so the steak tasted better. Nope. It was and will always be making sure the buzz stays tied on. I finally had to admit to myself, ‘If the only reason I drink is to get drunk, I’m a drunk’! ONLY honesty can create and find purpose.”)

2. What is your purpose? 

“At the time, my purpose was one thing only… I simply cannot be found out!”

“I could go weeks without drinking, so I convinced myself I was not an addict. Then the risk taking increased. I was getting careless.”

“I had been drinking all day the day before a big show that night. I knew there was no way I could play it, so I went to the ER, and told them that I thought I had food poisoning. Because I was indeed throwing up.”

“Unfortunately, when she came to see me after the show, the doctor told her my blood alcohol level.”

 “She had every right to tell the band, to get me thrown out, and to divorce me.”

“Instead, she looked at me right in the eye, holding my hand and said to me: ‘Keith, I married you for better or worse. I never dreamed you would be a deceiver and a liar. Yet I still love you.  You must get help’.”

“Internally, I was rolling my eyes and groaning, but thank God I had enough sense not to display or say any of that.”

“I envisioned myself in a rehab with a bunch of drunks. I wasn’t like any of them.  And I knew it would be a waste of time and money.”

“She didn’t say another word, but walked toward the door, and said: ‘Sleep it off, and we’ll talk in the morning!’.” 

“The next morning, she came in and sat down by my bed, and took my hand again. She asked me if I remembered the workshop that she attended when we were in Washington state.”

“I nodded.”

“She reminded me how different I told her she was after that workshop.”

“Then she said that she had not shared this with me previously, because she had not realized who I was. But she said that you had shared in the Power of Purpose that you believe in essence, every addict uses their substance, processes, and addictive choices to medicate a life lacking purpose. She said when she was considering rehab, she felt like God reminded her of what you had said.”

(Sidenote: to this day, I do not remember saying that. I believe it to be true, but obviously the words came out of my mouth for a great purpose).

“Then she told me that she knew that any counselor would probably recommend rehab, but that she wanted me to try the Power of Purpose first.”

“Honestly, that was pretty much music to my ears. I may have even thought that I was getting off the hook. But at that moment, I would have done anything she asked me to do.”

“Little did I know that you would spend those 2 1/2 days when I came to your program … stomping on my toes, my pride, and my arrogant self. Not off the hook!”

“But to be honest, somehow I knew you were doing it from a place of love.”

“I think the highlight that wrecked me was the ‘no talk’ … ‘Get over yourself and change your perspective’ double circles. The eye contact was brutal.”

“But in those eyes, I saw the meaning in life I longed for. I saw eyes that mattered. I saw people on a mission. I had none of that until the last day.”

“I trusted you enough by that time to believe that the letter would pour out of me. It did!”

“What purpose poured out of me?”

“To help Christian artists, struggling with addiction … to find the support, healing, and sobriety they need to live as the genuine, remarkably gifted artists they were created to be. Free from the cloud of addiction and shame!”

“I didn’t know how it would happen, but I knew I wasn’t the only one.  I just knew there were others just like me. Others who were desperate to love God and make a difference, but desperately trapped in their addiction.”

“I just knew that to be true. I just had no idea at the time how true it was.”

(From my friend in AA … “Until you allow and accept the opinions of others about you, that you know are true … and just let them be and not defend, you’ll never recovery. It’s their story about you … but you wrote those lines. When we can accept that we wrote them and accept that it’s their life’s-truths … THAT’S freedom! And our higher power can turn this surrender into an unfolding purpose, if we’ll simply accept that those storylines in the lives of those who love us, are what we wrote. And when we allow the way they heard them be their truth … and stop defending ourselves, that’s how and when everything begins changing.”)

3. What difference has it made in my life?

“I don’t know if you remember the few consultation sessions we had. But as you suggested, I did get an accountability partner, and I worked through the 12 steps.”

“Just as you said they would be, the steps were the greatest discipleship guidelines and steps I could have ever taken. I learned to live in a genuine and godly manner.”

“With 9 months of sobriety under my belt, my wife supported me in telling my story publicly.”

“It was at a sellout concert, and in the end of my sharing, I just felt compelled to share my purpose.”

“Within months, I was mentoring dozens of Christian artists. With God’s help, I put together a program that has become my passion. Over the past 12 years, I have been able to reach directly or indirectly over 25,000 Christian artists.”

“They’ve found their true north. They no longer struggle privately in shame, hiding their addictions. They’re free. They’re healed.”

“As for my marriage, it is stronger than ever. My wife has found great meaning in supporting the spouses of Christian artists lost in addiction.”

“Our marriage is pure gold. I have worked with great dedication to rebuild the trust. To heal the damage I’d done to her. And to our marriage.”

“I’ve learned to truly love her. To support her. To be the man she deserves as her husband. I’m still learning, still growing, but she knows I’m fully devoted to never becoming complacent in my growth as an artist, a husband, and now as a dad to 3 beautiful children.”

“If I could say one thing to your audience… I would say this …”

‘You are not an addict because you are a loser. You’re not even an addict because you are a sinner.  You are an addict because you live a life without purpose. Finding your purpose brings ultimate healing, but not just healing to yourself, healing to a great group of people … Who, without you will never find freedom’.”


I hope Keith’s story of addiction and purpose will inspire you to settle for nothing less than a life of purpose.

(My AA friend … “Nothing seemed to change. I attended meetings faithfully to keep my denial relevant for me and me alone. How? I was listening for the differences and not the similarities. I was determined I was different than everybody there. But when I heard someone share ‘listen for the similarities’ … everything changed. I relaxed into my chair at every meeting and heard who I’d become as others shared. Dealing with my denial became my purpose for being there. Every addict thinks they’re unique, when in fact they’re all the same. All living one purpose … scheduling and building a life around when they can use … living purposelessly.”)   

I believe finding purpose dramatically effects the need to medicate with any addictive process or substance.

And I believe that the clarity of sobriety opens the door to purpose.

As I said … I believe recovery and purpose are great partners.

Together they lead to a life of great meaning and fulfillment.

I love it when scientific research supports what we know to be true!

“Research has shown that, without a new sense of purpose, recovery does not tend to last. The stronger and more established a person’s sense of purpose is, the greater chance they have of remaining sober.”

Dr. Steve Taylor

I wish you great recovery, great healing, great purpose, and great fulfillment!

PS – If you’d like more info on the Power of Purpose, click here: