Reversing the Grip of Addiction
Can we redirect the power of our obsessions into something good?
Ask any child of an alcoholic or drug abuser and they will tell you—addictions are ugly. As a firsthand witness of my mother’s struggle as a child, I will tell you the same. It was painful to see how addiction consumed her life and it was hard to be around her when she was in the thick of it. She fought hard, and sometimes her strength came through, but I never knew what type of mood or mindset she would be in. Her instability negatively affected not only her life, but the lives of those around her.
Immediately from birth, life is a shocker. We develop and grow, but there remains a natural human inclination to reach out to anything substantial, to stabilize us and lend us support. For some people, this innate need can turn into a full-blown addiction. In fact, 16 percent of the U.S. population is dependent on alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs.
Addiction has both a personal and national effect. It is a disease that runs its course in the brain, and a new report shows that substance abuse beat out obesity as the number one health problem in America. It is also America’s number one healthcare cost, claiming approximately 30 percent of our federal and state healthcare spending.
Many of us do not even realize we suffer from addiction, or we live in denial, but an addiction can still consume and drain us even if we do not acknowledge it. Sadly, the very attempt to gain stability can actually tip our lives into a dangerous imbalance. The overly consuming nature of addiction can take over the minds of addicts, and destroy their lives.
A Surface Cure for a Deeper Problem
But not all addiction is chemically based. We also hold dependencies on things that might not necessarily be negative such as sex, food or social media. But for all the social media junkies out there, America has a bigger problem than our Facebook obsession. With new media and technology advancement, it’s now easier to become addicted to the approval of others. Addictions stem from the need to be satiated and to feel whole or complete, which can be superficially fulfilled with a simple Facebook “like” or admiring blog comment. No matter the substance, the root of addiction is the same: to fill or to meet personal inadequacies. Often an addiction is used as a substitute to avoid having to face a deeper issue.
The obsessive tendency in America abounds, but what if there is such a thing as a good addiction? Is it possible that an addiction could be more productive than consumptive?
A Different Kind of Substance
Given all the studies, there is only one “addiction” that has never produced any negative results. The side effects are more beneficial than terminal, and it actually increases focus rather than inhibiting it.
Perhaps the most controversial dependency of all, the Bible calls faith “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). There may a stigma attached to it at times, but faith is the most captivating power on earth.
Faith is a stimulant, producing with the Holy Spirit the side effects of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Faith is grown by passing the word; it is more powerful when it is lit with passion. It is life-changing for those who receive it. It empowers us to overcome, instead of going under. And many of us can speak of the medicinal quality of joy and laughter.
Choosing Better Habits
Addictive tendencies can result from suppressed passion, so activate your faith and allow it to stimulate your life. Stay busy, and feed those activities that drive your passion. We are all given something that we’re good at and love. Choose something that creates a positive and productive effect in your life, and go for it. Keep your hands and your mind busy. Actively pursue your passion, instead of waiting for it to come to you.
Also, keep in mind that faith is based in trust. Just like the good force behind every AA meeting, support is essential, and you are never alone. There is someone in your corner you can always turn to. Even if our parents are not physically or even mentally there, we have a Father who loves us. He knows all, sees all and cares immensely.
When I was eighteen, my mother lost her life battling a drug addiction, and I will miss having her as an active part of my life because of it. I know all too well the toxic toll an addiction can take on a life, but I also know what it means to be whole because of faith. The greatest substance I know of is faith in Christ—the true remedy for any void we try to fill through an addiction.