Yesterday I was going through some photos of those I have known of who have struggled with addictions of many kinds. Most of them are no longer here on earth. Some still are and struggling. Then there are those who feel they have it “under control” only choosing a new addiction to supply their needs.
After watching so many over a lot of years struggle with one addiction or another the truth of its power over people has become overwhelming. I have no doubt that addiction is an illness of the soul. Yes, there is also a family genetic component we can’t ignore, but either way, it all becomes facilitated by a deeper soul scar. The deeper the scars the harder it is to break the cycle.
Since addictions are an illness, I also feel they should be treated as an illness. Soul scars are nothing to take lightly. They cause many issues in life. They guide our behavior, can cause physical and emotional illness, and facilitate addictive behavior. The harder part is what another person’s addiction can do to others they love. It’s so hard to struggle alongside an addict and even harder to watch the destruction it has on people’s lives. Addicted people make decisions based on their addictions. The disease begins to control them until they are no longer in charge of their decisions. It takes over their lives like some monster entered in that refuses to be beaten back.
I heard a saying once that “aging is not for the weak”. I thought about that statement at the time because it is so true. Becoming older causes us all to struggle harder with one thing or another. The difficult part is the more we struggle the harder things become. What we focus on becomes bigger. I feel the addict struggles harder and harder. The disease is not for the weak, it is for someone who has a lot of strength. When I think of how much of their day an addicted person will put in just to feed it it’s overwhelming to me. When I studied opioid addictions during a class with Harvard Medical School, I learned that most individuals who are addicted to opioids will spend the bulk of their day just finding ways to feed their addiction. It’s a struggle and not one for the weak at heart. It is inconceivable to think that any one person would wake up one morning and say to themselves, ” I think I will become an addict for my life’s goal.” Just could not happen.
Before we focus just on drugs or illegal drugs, I have to mention that addictions come in all forms. There are drugs, yes, and alcohol, internet, food, comfort zones, sex, religion, reinforced habits of all kinds. Whatever the case may be, additions are substitutes for pain and suffering that is below the surface and not being dealt with. I have seen addictions rip the rails right out from under people’s lives and before they know it, life has changed forever. Sometimes we lose our lives and sometimes we lose our loved ones.
Brutality never heals addictive behavior. I don’t care how we want to look at it. Maybe we just don’t want to look. It’s so much easier to blame. Yet, before we blame, we have to look at ourselves, don’t we? Since what we see is always a reflection of a part of who and what we are. Remember, we all have ways of covering either what we don’t want to look at or what we don’t want others to see. Some will lie, commit crimes, make excuses, cause upheaval in life, or even worse, die. Pretty serious, isn’t it? If we look at every addict as “dirty scum” that just needs to be taken out of society, then maybe look again. What things inside of ourselves need to be looked at as well? Illness is illness and we are all a part of it.
Somewhere along the line the law decided that addiction is a crime. Yes, it causes people to commit crime sometimes and that has its consequences. Yet, there is a way to deal with it that goes beyond locking someone up and throwing away the key. Think of your morning cup of coffee, your piece of chocolate cake, the series you love on TV, the main focus you put on religion instead of God, the material items you have in your home, the social media you cling to when life is less than enjoyable. We are a society that replaces dealing with things with looking at other things. The sadness is that we never seem to learn, never heal, and never want to understand.
I wonder today, as I think of those who have died for their addictions; were they too weak or were they really strong? Folks the struggle is real and it’s not just someone else’s struggle. It belongs to us all. Think about anger as an addiction, or even giving financially to others can be if it drains our resources. What about the alcoholic who hides their addiction because of embarrassment or ego purposes? Doesn’t this take a lot of strength? An addict who uses illegal drugs can get caught and go to jail any time. Doesn’t it take a lot of strength to live that life? Maybe, just maybe, we all need to be taught another way to be strong. Maybe we need intervention, hospitalization, treatment centers, and others who care and understand? Maybe we need God to help us find wholeness and someone to help show the way to that wholeness? Maybe we need to see our own illness and be compassionate about someone else’s? Maybe we need to treat addiction like the illness it is and stop filling our prisons, jails, and law enforcement time with people who are simply broken from the inside out. Yes, evil happens from that brokenness. Can we even imagine the evil that happened TO them that caused it? How overwhelming is that?
Possibly you might ponder this today. I hope so. Go deep and figure out what addictions you have that hide below the surface, or maybe on the top? Gossip is a huge addiction. Can you think of someone who does this? You can always pick someone out who gets a high out of hearing someone else’s misery. That, my friends, is addiction as well. For some, falling in love is addiction. Once the euphoric feeling of new love has settled down the addict moves on to someone else not even realizing that their brain chemical addiction has cost them a relationship that could have been. Some never discover this in a lifetime, moving from one love encounter to another.
So, with all of this said, and all of this read, what is it that we need? Should we lock ourselves all up and throw away the key or should we heal one another? Should we punch one another in the places that hurt the most or heal the original blow that caused it all to begin with. The choice is ours, you know. It really is. Think about how much of an impact loving someone else whole could have on them? A life could be changed or even saved, and it can start with YOU.
Loving you from here,
Dr Rev Jenine Marie Howry