There are a zillion pundits brighter than I and of course, professionals who will agree, disagree or both- but here are my present thoughts from personal and longtime association with addiction and also addicts of many shades and substance.
If you or someone you love deals with addiction, PLEASE read this entire blog post or you may well find it depressing. My goal is to deal with reality, not provide false hope- and I live far more in recovery than not -I fully believe and have experienced that freedom CAN happen for anyone!
In no specific order:
“GET SAVED, YOU WILL BE FREE”
If this were THE deal, simple and done, there would be no professing Christians, no Spirit-filled Christians, no -any- genuine Christ-follower who ever had to deal with ongoing battles… not only with addiction but any sort of what the Bible calls sin, period.
No honest, longtime believer who has any personal integrity much less experience with others at a deeper level will agree that once a person walks in authentic saving faith that ALL IS WELL FOREVER. We all know this sadly, is just not the case.
My own experience is that my daily and true relationship with God- Father, Son, Holy Spirit, daily Bible study and several -other- things in my life on a regular basis indeed HAVE set me free from past and nagging addictions: drug, alcohol, sexual, material, power and etc., but to say “THIS IS IT- END OF STORY” is simply a very rare case.
And I am not even beginning to discuss issues of personal temptation, ongoing issues with this or that local or larger church, unresolved family or marital issues -within- Christian people… To say nobody ever fails after what may be a true core surrender to Jesus is simply untrue and we all know it.
What better place for broken sinners than a local congregation, a church? But think about it: you then have a place where broken sinners may act out just as they did prior when hanging out with the other set of broken sinners.
No matter where you turn (and you should, I have and carry zero shame for doing so!) whether a 12 Step, Christ-centered 12 Step or other program, Teen Challenge, etc. various other sorts of rehab facilities (faith-based or not) -anyone with experience finds less than a one-hundred percent recovery rate REGARDLESS OF TREATMENT type. Again, as my salvation in Christ, I have benefited and been greatly helped by 12 Step work but know plenty of people who continue to abuse X, Y or Z even after repeated treatment. Yes, there are a number of reasons, but treatment in and of itself is not the one-size-fits-all solution either.
“GET REAL FRIEND/S, A SPONSOR, SOUL-FRIEND”
Yes, yes, yes, and more than one and if possible, who can help you in all three of these areas. Regular -actual- friends who deeply care for your welfare but also have the courage to speak truth and confront (even “intervention”) in love and out of genuine (notice words like “real”, “genuine” and “authentic” being used in this blog?) love and compassion… along with at least -some- knowledge and wisdom, even the sense and connections to link you with God and treatment folks who deal with these issues regularly are all a major help.
I HAVE gotten by with more than “a little help from my friends”, a lot of help from such people has in large part kept me sane, sober and free of addictions! The old blues song (which I cite in another post in my blog) “Bad Company” (Brought Me Here) is equally true and it is often the case even after one is clean and sober that falling back or acquiring new “bad companions” as the Book says “corrupts good morals” and you have a relapse. I have seen it quite a few times. I did it in my younger days.
See the last paragraph above re. church. Not every basketball player is Michael Jordan. A person with love, guts and sense is a major help, but by no means the whole solution.
“GET A JOB, HOBBY, GET HEALTHY, GET HELPFUL TASKS THAT KEEP YOU OCCUPIED”
It is certainly true that we all need clothing, shelter, food, water and basic elements of survival. How we get them is another matter. One -can- live in the street, the forest, an abandoned building, subsistence living (fish, hunt, forage, food from garbage cans, etc.) or prostitute one’s self, deal drugs, steal, etc., to get basic needs met. One can perhaps find a homeless shelter or crash at houses of friends, couch surf. There are a lot of ways one can “exist” and live off of their wits, via crime or “skim” off of others. But finding a job is hard, finding one you actually enjoy and can perform well with a boss and workmates you like… that can be nearly impossible. Getting hired and keeping a job is another issue.
There are a huge amount of “functional addicts” who hold a job though drug, booze or sexual addicts. If a steady job and the will to keep it were the sole answers… but they are not.
Now consider all I have written and add actual biological mental illness and maybe even another disease or even diseaseS. Might such a person wish to “self-medicate” to ease the pain, in order to grasp some sort of acceptable/semi-acceptable (to them) “quality of life”?
DOES physical exercise help with addiction recovery? Absolutely. I work out daily and can say from long experience physical exercise plus having a steady job (actual several of them that each take time in my typical week) keep me “gainfully employed” in very positive ways. These both help keep me sober in the practical sense.
The average person might consider my life, generally speaking, that of a missionary, and most aspects of my service entail “helpful” (certainly to some folks) tasks that indeed also help me keep my mind off of the worst tyrant I know… “Me, Me, Me”. Being a slave to one’s self is the worst addiction I know -and it feeds the other addictions I have been writing about here. It is the last addiction to go, this narcissism that destroys. It does not go quietly.
MY PERSONAL CONCLUSION
How different from the misery, the darkness versus light and love that heals, makes healthy, keeps one clean and sober and attenuates the ability to see, hear and actually help others out of their addictions while also keeping one’s own temptations to excess and negative “acting out” at bay.
The fact is that my own sobriety has unfolded due to inclusion of ALL of the above areas.
Facing and accepting the reality of the struggle, the very real pains and non-joy-ride life-changes that ALL of the above has brought my way IS part of the journey.
A Bible teacher once taught: “We do not realize how far we have fallen until we try to climb back up”.
I refuse to paint or spin an “easy path”, a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the depths one can fall and be enslaved by addiction. Practicing addiction (no matter which “monkey” you have allowed to ride and control you) is ultimately overcome by other practices, many of which I have listed here. Addiction can be and IS overcome by many.
I cannot claim faith in the Risen Christ alone solves the problem/s. I DO claim He, present in and with me, has given me the power to overcome and accept as well as apply the practical tools I mention here. Such tools are no mystery to plenty of others who have indeed found strength and even continued freedom from various addictions through them, yes, even without spiritual faith in the One True God and His Son Jesus.
This is my personal experience from many years and many conversations, even lengthy relationships with people who have never trusted Jesus in any sense.
At the same time it indeed seems to me that humans of all sorts often trade one addiction for another. Yes. And one arguing with me on this may well say “YOU did it with an addiction to spirituality” to which I can happily say “Yes.”
This God in Whom I believe and experience a daily relationship with not only brought me this far, but I fully expect will bring me freedom, home and relationship for eternity. None of the other helps I mention here can nor will.
Meanwhile, if you believe you don’ț deal with any addictions whatsoever, I would say you likely have faith in a mythology that is more faith and fiction than fact. I am well aware some reading this will claim the very same about me and still I fully believe what I just wrote to be true. Some of your habits are quite positive. Plenty of addictions are in themselves a false god which by your accompanying worship, ultimately steal, kill and destroy.
Christ IS life. He has truly changed mine in the best sense.
Feel free to write me anytime! And thanks for stopping by 🙂
His, yours, -Glenn