If you’re in urban ministry,  you know someone who is hooked on:

Methcathinone, better known as Crank.

Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, better known as Ecstasy.

Or oxymetazoline hydrochloride, better known as Afrin.

You’re kidding? People are addicted to nose spray?

Nasal decongestants aren’t hip enough for their own TV series, but let me tell you,they are just as addictive.  And  you’re not alone if your nostrils get excited when you pick up  a package featuring the blue silhouette of nasal membrane  at Walgreen’s.

I decided to kick my secret nasal addiction  this past weekend at our family cottage in Northern Michigan with my brother-in law.


I realized he too had a problem when I saw a white long spray nozzle peeking out from his central console.

“I like the generic brand from Kroger,” he confessed.

“I’m into the industrial strength stuff from China.”I pulled out my stash from my computer bag. “I don’t know what’s in it, since the label is in Mandarin. All I know it that it’s strong enough to combat the air pollution in Beijing.”


When we pulled over at a Speedway for a fill up, I googled nose spray addictions and discovered that our schnozes weren’t alone.  By the number of websites and support groups, there appeared to be thousands of people who’d give their first born child before they’d give up their nasal decongestant.

I read tips on how to go cold turkey as Patrick steered, trying to avoid deer. “It only takes seventy six hours to break the addiction.”

“That’s four hours longer than it takes to get to the moon.”

“But at least we don’t have to pee in a bag strapped to our leg”.  I scrolled down posts from bloggers with names such as Proboscis Man, Toucan Sam  and Mouth Breather.

“This guy recommends detoxing one nostril at a time.” I started. “And, if that doesn’t work, he says to rub Wasabi  on your nose hairs.”

Patrick paused. “I wear a CPAP machine. That could get quite messy.”

So when we pulled into  the cabin, we vowed to go cold turkey, miles away from anyplace that sold nasal relief–  even mamby-pamby saline drops.

After three days of mouth breathing, crusty boogers and dry mucas membranes, we successfully kicked our habits. Not only were we able to wake up and smell the falling leaves and skunk musk, our noses caught whiff of a late blooming rose outside our cottage.

“Congratulations, Patrick, we did it.”

So, now that my sinuses are on the nasal spray wagon, am I in better standings with God?

After all, Christians point fingers at active addicts all of the time, thinking they have to be “fixed” before the junkie’s faith is valid. They can’t be a believer because they still shoot up or spray up. Nonsense!

We get so caught up on the recovery, we forget about the healing process.

Jesus hung out with drunks and those who hadn’t “broken bad”.  Not those that had completed a 12 step recovery program for Frankincense & Myrrh snorting. The only sin Jesus regularly slammed was that of  judging others.

So if you work with addicts in your outreach program, remind them God is with them every step of the way— not just at the end –of their recovery journey.

And if you can’t kick Afrin?

Jesus loves, you too.


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