By Matthew Boyle
Every year, millions of people struggle with the disease of addiction. It destroys lives, rips apart families, and undermines communities. Odds are nearly certain that either you or someone close to you will deal with this illness in their lifetime. For those of you walking the path of addiction and trying to find the road to recovery, here are a few simple truths that I’ve learned over the years.
Remember God’s Love
Here’s what you need to remember. First and foremost, you are a child of God. Drug addict. Sex addict. These are labels that you think define you, but the truth is that these are only sinful actions. God’s love for you has never faltered, but perhaps your faith in his love has faltered. No matter how gripped by an addiction you have become, or how much shame you feel because of it, know that you are worthy of his light and love. Acceptance is the first step.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Our tendency as humans is to blame external factors for our own problems. You might blame your living circumstances for driving you to drink or do drugs. You may blame your spouse for driving you to porn addiction. You may blame God for making you susceptible to addiction. The thing is, it’s easy to blame others. At the end of the day, our actions belong to ourselves. The next simple truth about overcoming addiction is you need to set aside your excuses and the recipients of your blame. You can’t make a positive change in your life until you accept responsibility over your own actions.
1 Corinthians 10:13-14
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Don’t Go it Alone
Addiction can be a shameful affliction for those who suffer from it. It likes to stay in the darkness, out of sight from the public eye and hidden from those closest to the addict. In fact, addiction thrives in the darkness. The best way to cure it then is to bring it into the light. There’s a reason that AA meetings are built around sharing personal stories and experiences. Bring your addiction to the light by openly discussing it with your friends and family. Text your circle when you feel cravings. Attend AA or NA meetings regularly. If needed, seek professional therapy. You shouldn’t have to face addiction alone.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
There Are No Shortcuts
When an addict believes they have finally gotten their addiction under control they often make the faulty assumption that they are cured. This just isn’t true. The moment you think there is a single cure for this disease, you’re mistaken. Overcoming addiction takes acceptance and love, but it all also takes perseverance. Ask anyone who has maintained their sobriety. They are all still addicts, but they have chosen to be in recovery. It may be tempting to look for shortcuts or think you can finally handle “just having one drink” or something similar. In reality, you must continue to persevere every day.
James 1:1-3 John 1:15
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Be Honest with God
Throughout the recovery process, you will be tempted to relapse. You will experience the pain and frustration of this irrational disease. You may question your life, your choices, and what God has planned for you. Throughout it all, you must remember to remain honest and open with God. Consider the honesty and transparency of King David who was called a man after God’s own heart. His openness and ability to admit flaws should be emulated here. Bare your soul to God and he will listen. He will hear you, and when you are ready, he will speak to you.
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Whether you find yourself in the grips of an addiction or want to help a loved one through their own trials, these truths will help to set you on the road to recovery. Above all, remember this:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a growing chain of drug and alcohol rehab centers in Oklahoma. Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree and has worked in the healthcare industry ever since, creating a holistic treatment model that supports patients in the pursuit of achieving lifelong sobriety.