Revisiting Addiction

myburdenislight.pngI came across an article written addressed to “The Girl Asking Us to Stop Calling Your Drug Addiction A Disease“. The essence of the article was for this girl to stop asking for this and that the author was going to “educate” people on how addiction is in fact a disease.  Mostly, according to the author, because it is incredibly offensive to call addiction a choice not a disease.

My first reaction was, “Oh no let’s not offend the addict! Heaven forbid we should offend them to the point of anger and quite possibly some personal introspection. No we wouldn’t want to do that!” It’s this kind of pussyfooting around that has gotten us to the point where we have an “epidemic” of heroin use, thousands of people with multiple rehab stays and a generation that thinks that drug use is just part of their growing up. The author who is female serves up excuse after excuse for addicts stating that they cannot control themselves and would not choose this life therefore it’s a disease excuse as many others have, ineffectively in my opinion.

Her first volley to try to destroy the argument that addiction is a choice is to quote the National Institute of Drug Abuse stating that drug addiction is, “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” So let me get this straight, I have to actively seek drugs out and then ingest them to have this disease? Uh huh, ok. It goes on to state that, “It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. ” Hmmm, so I am putting something deliberately in my body and altering my brain chemistry, yet it’s a brain disease? Did NIDA even pay attention to what they were saying?  No child of two comes down with alcoholism or a 4-year-old suddenly is addicted to heroin. Yet those same children can come be found to have cancer, diabetes, MS and the list goes on. In fact I am offended by those who would lump addiction in with these documented diseases that truly were not a choice.

The next few lines in the article speaks about becoming tolerant of your drug of choice so you need more of it to get the same high and it is “seemingly impossible to break the habit.” Now I am not sure if the author was aware of her choice of words, but she demolishes her own argument with the word “habit”. Habit is defined as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” A behavior pattern? So you don’t necessarily have this behavior pattern till you CHOOSE it. “Almost involuntary”, we have all heard the saying that almost does not count unless it’s horse shoes or hand grenades. Almost implies that it can be done if one CHOOSES.

I agree with her next supposition that no one wakes up one day and says, “I am going to become an addict” and yes, there are several factors that come into play to create an atmosphere to become an addict, but then she again obliterates her own argument by saying that there has been speculation by psychologists and medical professionals that alcoholism runs in families. I agree with the part of the statement that it can run in families, but the likelihood that it happens in families is because that children grow up to see their parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle and so on having a glass, or two, or three at dinner, of wine and deciding that it’s acceptable behavior and taking it a bit farther. There is no alcoholism gene, no one is born with Captain Morgan stamped on a gene in their system that creates alcoholism from birth. In that same paragraph the author then goes on to say that, some may find that drinking is a way for them to cope with other issues, such as stress or struggling with mental illness. She’s right, most addicts are looking for an escape from the problems in their world and drugs or alcohol make those problems seem very small or they go away all together. However, a person comes down off their high and the problems are still there which in turn makes the want for escape even more pressing and they indulge in even more of whatever. This is exactly where God comes in if many would just let Him, 1 Corinthians 10:13, “13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” We are all tempted, we all have had many moments of wanting to escape, but the only true escape is in Him.

The author wraps up her article by stating that she wants to stigma of “oh poor me” attitudes to be done with for everyone that addiction has touched. The she goes on to assume that if addiction is a choice and we believe that we would be as heartless to tell a parent whose son or daughter died from an overdose , “well they chose it.” As a Christian woman, heck even as a human I would NEVER say that to a person who has lost a loved one, no matter the circumstances. THAT offends ME!

Her final thoughts are that we need to stop criticizing, bashing, and shame addicts, we should love and support them. I agree wholeheartedly with loving and supporting them, however that does not mean that we let their addiction become ours, or that we are ok with their sin much like we would not be ok if a person were committing adultery or murder or any other sin.

Addiction has been given a pass as a disease and rehabs that medically treat this “disease” haven’t worked so far. This is proven out by the fact that success rates are based on a person remaining indefinitely in a program. If the CDC is reporting that 91 Americans per day die of a heroin overdose, then please tell me what is working in the way that we approach this “disease” because I can’t find it?

Instead of giving addicts another way to justify their addictions, we need to point them to the only ONE who will fill the hole they are so desperately working to stuff with alcohol or drugs. Jesus is our sufficiency. We place so much on ourselves that isn’t ours to carry and then we try to stifle the noise when Jesus told us in Matthew 11:28-30, “28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Alcohol and drugs have never given anyone rest, it’s never been a light load to carry, and until we stop excusing the behavior and taking an honest approach to this the load will get heavier and the burden unbearable.

So to the author of the article I hope that I have instilled in you that we most certainly need to love on and support addicts, and point them onto the road of true recovery, but writing them a blank check to explain their addiction isn’t working, but there IS another way.

 

Count It All Joy?

girl-1149933_1920I lost my joy yesterday. There is just no other way to put it.  I think I can honestly say that I have been having a crisis of faith. I keep wondering where He is in all this.

In James 1:2-4 it says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Yeah, I am having a hard time counting it all joy. I know there are those who have suffered harder trials than I and I can honestly say I don’t know how they endure it, but welcome to my pity party for just a bit. 

When my husband and I got married just one month after, he was in a bad auto accident that left us without a car, and a no fault judgement, which meant we still had to pay for a car that did not exist. Five months later I lost my job and at that time I was making a bit more than my husband who was working two jobs. We had no other option, but to move in with my parents. Don’t get me wrong I love my parents dearly, but I was 26 newly married, living with my parents and again had a curfew. We managed to pay off most of our debt (even when my husband also lost his higher paying job) and moved into a lovely one bedroom apartment 7 months later after two career changes.

Normally in a marriage, the topic of children comes up. It did for us too, but in my youth I had been very ill and I wasn’t sure that I could have children nor would the illness come back preventing me from raising them, so we decided that children were not really in our future. Two months later I got pregnant with twins. Go ahead and giggle most people do at this point………..ok laughter time over because the last 13 weeks of my pregnancy I was put on bedrest, once again living with my parents because my husbands hours at his new job prevented him from taking care of me at any time.

My wonderfully made children were born at 36 weeks to the day, however they both have a form of autism, which had us deciding that I would stay home full time. My two boys are some of the most caring, loving, aggravating, frustrating, God loving men that I know.

We then got slammed with one of the worst trials we have faced, my husband became addicted to alcohol and then threw in some drugs for good measure. I won’t go into the gory details, but we separated, I filed for divorce (let’s just leave it at I had biblical grounds) and we were apart for a year. My husband got clean and sober and we did reunite, but then my health took a bad turn.

I was born with a spine disorder and unfortunately I had a very bad car accident that exacerbated it tremendously to the point that I needed surgery. I am now the proud owner of 4 screws, two rods and three cadaver discs. That made working outside of the house impossible for me at a time when my children were grown enough and I could have rejoined the working world to help with the household finances.

A few years later and I was diagnosed with diabetes. It didn’t stop there either, in the space of 4 months I had 3 surgeries; a DNC, my gallbladder and appendix removed and shoulder surgery.

It had seemed to us that maybe a change was needed again, so we thought that moving out of the house we have been in for 17 years would be a good way to get a fresh start. Purging all the old and simply cleaning things up might air out the crud that had us down. We prayed before each step, we tried to obey when doors seemed to close and things appeared to be moving along. Then we got steam rolled yesterday and we are lost. Details aren’t necessary, but things have gone wrong and we are not sure what will happen. We thought we were being obedient, we thought we were asking in faith without doubts (James 1:6), yet here we are.

I know trials are part of life and there are lessons to be learned. Faith is stretched and tried when the trials come, but mine seems to be flimsy at best now. I know in my head that when a door shuts He isn’t preventing us from good things and He may well have something so much better, but my heart can’t seem to get on board this time.

Has your heart ever forgotten to listen to your head? I thought I had concurred that particular affliction. I guess I need more work.

 

Is It A Disease

AddictionI have shied away from this topic simply because it is very volatile, but lately it keeps coming up and I keep having to clarify my thinking to myself and others. If you are easily offended by straight talking and a firm opinion that is seated in the Word of God then this is probably not the post from me you want to read. Here we go.

Addiction-“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” Nowhere in that definition does it state that an addiction is a disease. I will capitulate that when someone is wrapped up in addiction there is a dis-ease in their very being, but there is no disease. Addiction is a choice each and every time a person ingests their drug of choice they have made a decision. 

For addiction to be a disease there would have to be several things that are true about it. First it would have to be involuntary or a result of a lifestyle habit. Secondly anyone could come down with the disease; two year olds would all of a sudden become alcoholics and 6 year olds would without warning be heroin addicts. Thirdly no matter how deeply buried it is there would be absolutely no ability within the person to change their circumstances by their actions. I know the argument can be made for things like an obese person can correct diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol by losing weight, but it’s a correction not an eradication.

Trust me this declaration does not come easy. It’s only after years of watching a person that I love most in this world struggle to get themselves clean and sober, seeing it happen and many many discussions about it all along with agreement with this person that no matter how we try to pretty it up addiction is a choice.

The world has worked to cover up sin, make it pretty or acceptable and this area is one good example of that. Calling addiction disease is another excuse for the addict to continue in their behavior, and an easy out for the rest of the world to not address the elephant in the room.

We have been spinning our wheels for decades thinking that the processes we have in place are working to arrest the issue of addiction, but if that were true why is there a rise in heroin addiction and death? We as the families pay thousands of dollars for rehab as it stands right now, for which the recidivism rate is 60% and then are surprised that the addict goes back to their old ways. So we try rehab again and it is a repeat of before. Sometimes it works and the addict does stay clean and sober, but relying on sometimes is a dangerous game for us all.

Addicts are chasing the “feel good” because they don’t feel good. There is a hole so big inside them that filling it up becomes an absolute obsession. However, we don’t point them toward God, we point them toward rehab. We all know as believers (at lest I hope we do) that the Word of God never returns void, since that is true then it would make sense that it is the perfect thing along with the love of Jesus to fill up the void in a person’s heart.

In the book of Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The addict needs to know that there is someone else that will carry the burden that they are trying to avoid.  They need to be taught as in the book of Ephesians 4:21-24, “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” And they need to be made aware from 1 Corinthians 10:13 that there is a way out, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

None of this is a perfect solution because we live in meat suits and are tempted each day, but it is better than all the rest and it has a pretty impressive success rate. It’s worth a try.

Moving

IMG_9367I been having a difficult time lately getting much done. I am not sure why as humans we decide to take on life changing events when we are most busy.

It was in the back of our heads to move for a year or so. We no longer really like where we live, the house we are in was never meant to be our forever (yeah we have been here over 17 years), and the concept is closed off and a bit choppy. I came across some homes accidentally that my husband really liked and the next thing I know we are cleaning out our house speaking to mortgage reps and have a realtor for our house. What happened? I am not sure.

I grew up with a mother who was one who threw things away if it was not used that year and a father who kept copies of scientific magazines from before I was born (you know they landed on the moon dad, right?),  so I have a bot of both of them in me. Mom was also a clean freak, of which I really am not. So to have  realtor come into your house and in her capacity as the person who will sell your home tell you it’s not that clean and that you need to get rid of every bit of evidence that you are still living here is a bit maddening, but also discouraging too.

When we moved in here our boys were young (picture before kindergarten) and now they are adults and there has been more junk brought in here and even thrown away than I care to mention and we still seem to be swimming in it. Our basement looks like the dump threw up in it, but I will say that I have managed to box up most of our lives and put them in my father in laws garage. My big issue has been how do you erase the fact that you are living here while you are trying to sell the home?

When I look at all the stuff we have accumulated I keep going back to the book of 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I am having a bit of trouble letting go of the treasures that we have stored here in our house, but need to focus on the treasures that we will store in a new abode much like we will in heaven.

I have also been reminded of another piece of scripture, Ephesians 4:22-24 “22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” While our old stuff does not necessarily contain corrupt and deceitful desires when we purge ourselves of the things of old we are taking off the old man and putting on a new man because we will be operating from a different place or season in our lives.

I hope that I can, with God’s help, keep all the balls in the air. I know He can, but I am not too sure of my ability to do that right now. I will let you know how things work out.