People who struggle with addiction have become close to my heart. I’ve watched my mother, my husband, and countless patients struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Whether it’s drugs and alcohol, food binging, food restriction, gambling, video games, fame, money, sex, pornograhy, attention, social media, etc. its all the addiction. It’s all relying on an outside substance to alter the way you feel in a moment of time. What’s different are the consequences to each addition. If your “drug of choice” is illegal drugs, prepare to go to jail or worse. If its food, you likely won’t go to jail, but your body will hate you and you will hate your body. If its adult porn, you might not go to jail, but your relationships will suffer immensely. The reality is that addiction is hungry. Soon adult porn isn’t enough, we need to watch something even more perverse to satisfy an urge that once was satisfied by “vanilla” porn. Addiction is hungry. You can feed it, but it always needs more. That gram of IV heroin that once got you high and feeling “good” is now not enough. Now you need two grams. That line of coke that got you buzzed will become hours or days of use just trying to get back to that first high you found pleasure in.
Many of the patients I see have tried detox, rehabs, 12 step programs AA/NA. But here they are still struggling with addiction. We now understand that when we start using drugs (food or porn) as a teenager or young adult we are hard wiring our brain to rely on outside substances to cope. We are robbing our brain to learn how to process emotion, hardships, loneliness, guilt and shame, love, etc.
How Bad Do You Want It?
I know a patient is serious about being sober when they are demonstrating CHANGE. I’ll never forget when I was little I asked my Dad how he stopped smoking. He said, “I changed everything, I stopped hanging out with people who smoke, I stopped going to bars where smoking is permitting, NO MATTER WHAT”. He changed everything for one year. After that year, smoking was repulsive to him. He smelled the smells, he saw the yellow teeth, he witnessed the aging effects. For many of you a year won’t be enough. It might take 20 years of change. It might take a lifetime.
People Places Things
I love the 12 step program. NA and AA have educated us on the medical model of addiction. They tell us our drug of choice is the one substance we are allergic to. Working at a Children’s Home I saw many children who suffered from upper respiratory issues, runny noses, chronic congestion, etc. What is the ONE thing they craved? Cheese and milk. The one substance that exacerbates inflammation of mucus membranes and keeps us sick. The substance who’s caseins trigger the same part of the brain that heroin does. The Medical Model of Addiction says we crave the very thing we are allergic to. Most binge eaters will tell you they don’t binge on carrots. They binge on sugar and carbs. The very thing that their body hates, the very thing that keeps them sick.
Each of us are predisposed to addiction but the substance that we are allergic to is different for all of us. One person might try heroin and not get addicted. Another person might try it once and their entire life now revolves around opiates. Someone else might be compelled to try to fix or control others (codependency-guilty! All therapists are co-dependents in recovery ;-). Unfortunately when we try highly addictive substances like stimulants, opiates, or benzodiazepines more than once, many of us will now be on the same playing field. Predisposed or not, there you’ll be, a slave to the substance that overtakes your life. When a doctor wants to give you benzos or opiates, think long and hard about what could happen. In urgent situations yes, we need temporary bandaids. But beware of the trap. Pain management is not a fix, its a bandaid. Chronic pain sufferers’ who have been on high doses of opiate pain medications start to become a slave to the signals their brains produce. When they try to lower dosages or get off the opiates, their brain creates fake pain just to get the Oxycontin. Anxiety sufferers’ brains will create anxiety just to get that Xanax. Binge eaters’ brains will create hunger to that donut. Substances can make our brain a slave if we allow it.
Every single addict I’ve ever known have one thing in common: Guilt, Shame, and Isolation. Underneath everything else it boils down to those three words: Guilt, Shame, and Loneliness. They don’t like themselves. They feel bad about what they did yesterday. They feel like “bad people”. Another lie that keeps them in addiction. They don’t have the ability to forgive themselves. They don’t have assertiveness skills to get what they want and need. They don’t know how to set boundaries with themselves or others. All of them have at least one parent who was emotionally or physically absent, or who used outside substances themselves.
Its not coincidence that Meth is called “devil’s serum”. Have you ever thought about the spiritual factor in addiction? The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Weather you believe in a spiritual realm or not, it won’t stop evil from destroying you IF you let it. What better way to keep you from experiencing freedom, sobriety, community, family, friendship, success than to keep you inebriated? When we are on substances (especially stimulants) our soul is kept prisoner, we have no ability to have true empathy for others, we have no conscience. We are capable of stealing, lying, anything to get the substance. Most importantly we are not capable of loving ourselves. Ask any addict what is the ONE thing they are missing? Love for self.
The ONLY Permanent Solution, Cure, and Way Out
God. Bow your knee, give your heart and your life to Christ. Experience His grace and His deliverance. Let Him walk you through the consequences.
Yes many Christians, Jews, Protestant and Catholic, etc experience addiction. They have bowed their knee and given their life to Christ. So why aren’t they free?
Released From Bondage
It isn’t enough to be complacent. It isn’t enough to go to work, go to church, and come home. It isn’t enough to make your NA/AA meeting. When we are wanting LONG TERM FOREVER SOBRIETY we must be LIVING OUR PURPOSE. Being saved and accepting Christ as your savior is enough for salvation, but not enough for breaking bondage in the cycle of addiction. We can’t stop at the minimum.
Every person, every animal, every plant was created for a purpose. Everything that has breath is created to praise the Lord. Animals and plants do this naturally. The sky and sea proclaim His name naturally. But God has given people free will. He will never force us to love Him. What is your purpose? What spiritual gifts have you been born with? Those are not gifts to keep to yourself, those are gifts that must be given away to help others.
Finding your purpose is a journey. We must ask God to help us find that. While we are waiting there are a few things we can do:
- Get out of isolation. Do you have people in your life who know your struggles? Who keeps you accountable? Are you surrounding yourself with people you want to be like? Get into community. This is not your “party friends,” these are the people who love you on a deeper level, the people who ask “how are you” and really mean it. Find a church that offers “home groups” or “community groups”.
- Faith comes by HEARING THE WORD. It can’t just be on Sunday! Every single day find a way to HEAR THE WORD. There are many ways to hear the word: read the bible, listen to a sermon (see below for recommendations. Beware of counterfeits), do a daily devotion, go to church, etc.
- Focus OFF self. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels, call a friend and ask how their life is going, visit the elderly in nursing homes, walk the dogs at the pound, work in a church nursery. One thing I promise you is if you take time for others, YOU WILL CHANGE, and your entire perspective will change.
- Share your story with others. This is your testimony. Share what you have been through. Someone else might relate to you and find comfort that they are not alone. Your story might encourage someone else to do something different to GET something different.
Many of you have known your purpose since childhood. Others of us must start walking and the path will be shown to us.
For many addicts, part of their purpose is sharing what worked for them. Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselors (LCDCs) are required to be former addicts. Why? Because all the text books in the world couldn’t give you the knowledge of experience. Your experience is preparing you for your purpose. How can your past hurt not be in vain? How can it be for something that helps others? Look at your life struggles and you will start to see your purpose. Your purpose will be something you are immensely passionate about. It will be something that brings abundant JOY. It will be something that helps others in some way. It will be something that brings success to your life.
Release From Bondage
As AA and NA remind us, God gives us grace for TODAY. Not next week, not tomorrow. FOR TODAY. Resist evil and temptation. Relinquish secrets daily. Flee the enemy. Who is the enemy? Anyone or anything including yourself who does not want your sobriety to be the NUMBER ONE priority.
Relapse And Its Meaning
Relapse is simply a reminder that you are not on track with your purpose. You have two choices: 1. Pull your pants back up, reach out to anyone and everyone until you get help, and make up your mind that one mess up doesn’t have to mean the whole thing is destroyed. This doesn’t have to be your reality. 2. Do what most addicts do and say to yourself, “I messed up, I might as well keep using”. A one relapse becomes weeks, month or years of sickness. NO. A ‘lapse doesn’t have to become a full blown, life taking, marriage destroying, loss of job, in jail, CPS has your kids, depressed occurrence. There’s the LIE! A ‘lapse can simply be a tap on the shoulder. HEY you are going the wrong way! Come back to the light of Grace. Don’t listen to the lies “I’ll always be an addict, I’m a bad person, I’m a piece of shit, I’m unloveable”. You are sons and daughters of the King if you have given your life to Christ. You have been called to a specific PURPOSE. You are here for a reason. What is it???????????? Are you living it despite circumstances? If your purpose is to preach and you are in jail, you better preach to to your cellmates! Get up on the jail cafeteria tables and scream it! If your purpose is to encourage others but you are depressed, get your focus off YOU and find someone who needs encouragement more than you do. If your gift is baking pies but your oven is broken, find a friends oven, do what you have to do! Don’t let anything get in your way. If your purpose is to be a great mother but you’re in an abusive relationship, GET OUT. If your purpose is to be a great spouse but there is fighting and hatred in your house, seek healing! Don’t stop until you get a breakthrough.
God’s impact equals change, but you have to want it. It’s through brokenness we receive a breakthrough!
- Hear the Word: BIBLE APP. https://www.youversion.com/apps. Download the app, click on Plans, click on Discover, pick a plan.
- Hear the Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8snM5ilpa0o (Toni Evans), http://www.tdjakes.org (TD Jakes), http://www.watermark.org/resources/messages (Look for Jonathan Pokluda and Todd Wagner). BEWARE of counterfeits. Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker, not a preacher. Theres a difference between a feel good “name it and claim it, blab it and grab it” sermon and a biblically sound based sermon.
- www.intherooms.com Get access to live AA/NA/Overeaters Anonymous/CoDa etc. Take an online meeting!
- Find an in person meeting https://www.addiction.com/meetingfinder/
- Issues too big for you and your sponsor to handle? Find a therapist: www.psychologytoday.com. Type in your zip code, insurance, preferred criteria (do you want a male? a female? Religious preference?).