The Battle Of Addiction

Consider these statistics: About 2.7 million American women abuse alcohol or drugs. Twenty-eight percent of adults admitting to Internet sexual addiction are women. And, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling, almost half of those seeking help for a gambling addiction are female.

It is no secret that addiction of many varieties runs rampant in our society. And while there are just as many varied reasons as to why someone may stay in the grips of addiction, I believe crossing the line into the recovery process begins with one simple question which must be answered by anyone who is seeking freedom: do you want to get well?

A picture of this reality is illustrated in the biblical account of a paralyzed man, whose story is found in the New Testament book of John, chapter 5. The reader witnesses Jesus conversing with this man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. He had apparently been lying all those years by a pool which was said to have healing properties. Yet, this man had never experienced the freedom that this pool of water afforded him.

While paralysis and addiction are two completely separate issues, I believe there is a very powerful principle embedded in the short dialogue that took place between Jesus and the man. In a simple and straightforward manner, Jesus looked at the man and asked: “Do you want to get well?” The man’s reply is full of excuses: “Sir, I have no one to help me, and when I go down, someone gets in my way.” As I read this, I can’t help but wonder: Could it be that the man had adopted the identity of being paralyzed? Or perhaps even the identity of being a victim? In order to be healed, the man had to want to change before anything could change. And so it is with the addict.

With the disease of addiction–whether it is to food, alcohol, money, sex, relationship–there is a tendency for the addict to be split, or double-minded. On one hand, she desires to be free, yet on the other she desires to remain in addiction. Because although destructive, the addictive behavior has been her only way to cope, to survive, to get her deep soul needs met. Yes, the addict will often say that she wants to get well, if only God will take away the addiction quickly and easily. However, in reality, she doesn’t quite want to fully surrender her secret struggles and trust that life on the other side is indeed better.

Recovery from addiction, while not easy, is also not complicated.

Personal experience taught me that recovery–in my case, from alcoholism and bulimia–is a hard-work miracle experienced one day at a time. Yet the journey begins with only one word. Do you want to get well? YES!

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