PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 20, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
Addicts may be
getting false hope, experts say
salvation only part of cure
Drug addicts kick their habit on
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
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
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 the revival.
Psychiatric patients testify they are throwing
away their medications because the revival is
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
"You don 't need The Friary, brother. All
you need is Jesus," Hill roars during many
But 16 years of work in treating chemical
dependency has taught Donnelly to doubt instant
"Those who stop do it with support like
with 12 steps," he said.
Brownsville leaders also have publicly said
that the revival is putting a dent in drug use in
Escambia County by saving drug dealers and users.
But addiction treatment centers paint a
different picture of the area 's problem.
"Our admissions are going up,"
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 Peggy Mika.
"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
Peace said he heard about the Brownsville
Revival from one client.
"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."
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