ISOFaithfulandTrue: a book report of Wanting to Be Free–A Spiritual Approach to Addiction and Recovery by Neroli Duffy

In Wanting to Be Free, author Neroli Duffy writes of her encounter on an airplane with a man named Daniel, who was recovering from an addiction to pornography. Both a retired medical doctor and a minister, she was planning to write about addiction but did not yet have a clear direction. Enter Daniel, sharing his recovery story.

Daniel had written a poem about his addiction which she printed in her book, but the crucial aspect of how he did it were what caught my attention. Recovery from porn addiction is not easy. I know of many firsthand who have tried to break free in recovery groups from sex and lust addiction. I myself was in those groups not for pornography but for lusting after men and making them my gods. I did learn how tough this disease of addiction is and I already knew it for myself because it is not easy to walk in those doors of such a group when you are the only female present.

It was another kind of assignment for me from a Power greater than myself. I needed to find recovery because I was mentally obsessing myself into insane states of mind even when I was not actually involved with any men. It had been years since I had indulged in promiscuity outwardly, but my mental obsession remained.

I was assigned to cover addictions somewhat before, but from an objective distance. When I was a freelance health reporter briefly for the Billings Outpost, I used to buy and read a book I was interested in on health and then ask a health professional to comment on it for my reporting. As reporting is traditionally from the area local to the paper, I would find local experts in the field of the subject at hand. I would also cover conferences, including on meth addiction.

If I were still in Billings, I had in mind someone I would interview regarding this book, but honestly, I do not know if he himself has recovery in this area. He is an addictions specialist but this addiction is not an easy one. I know.

So I will just review the book itself and report on it, as I really do have lived experience and recovery, by the grace of God. Rev. Duffy does present many avenues for recovery from addictions of any kind, not just pornography. Her expertise is in the use of prayer and affirmation for healing.

She describes other modalities that are used in the addictions recovery field, including one I’d not encountered. The Phoenix Multisport is a “support community for those who are recovering from substance abuse. They focus on sports and fitness pursuits such as climbing, hiking, skiing, running, strength training, yoga and road or mountain biking, along with social events and other activities.”

Jenny Hunter, who worked in addictions treatment centers, and is in recovery from alcoholism, wrote the forward to Wanting to Be Free and is quoted throughout the book. She offers much valuable firsthand insight into the use of the spiritual techniques advocated.

The unseen spiritual forces behind addiction are covered extensively and in fact Daniel himself recounts his encounter “when he felt something grip the back of his neck–a firm and icy grip, tangible and chilling, yet not of this world. And then he heard the most awful sound—a growling, guttural moan that seemed to be from the pits of hell itself…and although he did not know the name of this being–was it Satan himself?–he knew he was no match for whatever it was.”

How did he break free? “He got down on his knees beside his bed and prayed earnestly, asking Jesus to deliver him from the ‘beast’ that was gripping him. Instantly the hand was withdrawn. A calm presence flowed through him and he felt peace.”

The author writes about Daniel telling this tale to her, “I looked into Daniel’s eyes, and I knew that what he was describing was not a hallucination or an illusion.”

“We talked about angels, forces of light and darkness and what this malevolent presence might have been. I reminded him that Jesus had spoken of dark forces that are beyond our physical sight. He had told the apostles that some come out only ‘by prayer and fasting.'”

It turned out that Daniel had been fasting when he prayed to have the “thing” removed. The ancient formula worked for him. He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and they advocate regular fasting.

I, too, am grateful to have the Lord Jesus to have delivered me and that is why I call Him my sponsor and pledged my life to Him and will not date. I am striving to be a lay Dominican nun as I believe He has called me, or perhaps an ecumenical Franciscan nun, if the Catholic Church is not interested in me. They may not be. Just because He calls me, it does not mean that the Church always does His will. I know that for a fact. They can prove me wrong and I hope they do. The Vatican can fast and pray on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays as Our Lady, Queen of Peace at Medjugorje recommends and the issue of sexual abuse by priests will go away. I do not doubt it. I would love to report on that miracle. Truly, I would.

The formula from the Great Physician worked for a Mormon man, it worked for this Messianic Jew, and a medical doctor and minister prescribes it. I am very grateful that I read Wanting to Be Free and had followed the time-tested prescription.

Wanting to Be Free is a gift to those seeking recovery. It includes other spiritual paths as well, other than Christianity. I am donating a copy to the bookshelf of the apartment building where I now live. It is my way of “paying it forward” because the need is great.

I honor the author because I knew her personally and I have not been able to admit she is no longer on Planet Earth. When she passed on last year, I was scheduled to take a peer support specialist training, which included training in helping other addicts, but I was too overcome by her passing to function. She is still very much present in her books, though, and her compassionate spirit will never die. May the donated book find a home in another addict’s life in this building where I reside. I will always be grateful to Neroli Duffy and hope others who were not so fortunate to have known her personally may be illumined by her literary legacy–and find deliverance.






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