How many times have you heard “I’m addicted to chocolate” or “I’m addicted to my morning coffee?” These statements sound familiar and generally innocuous. Someone is simply sharing that they like something so much they want it all the time. But, there is nothing harmless when it comes to addictions to drugs or alcohol.
While often the media portrayal of addiction is tied also to gang activity or homelessness or to a certain sector such as inner-city residents, it’s important to remember that addiction does not just happen to one class of people or one sector of a community. It could happen to your dentist or hairdresser, your child’s teacher, or your best friend. They may suffer in secret or everyone may be aware of it. While their actions might not be criminal, their addictions are likely detrimental to their health, and can affect their academics, careers and financial stability.
Most people do not want to be addicted to anything they can’t shake off. It’s like carrying a ball and chain around all the time. ProjectKnow reports that in the U.S., nearly 14 million adults - or one in every 13 - abuses alcohol or have an alcoholism problem. And, that several million more partake of risky alcohol use that can potentially lead to addiction down the road. These overwhelming statistics also show that youth who begin drinking before age 15 are twice as likely to become addicted to alcohol in their lifetime.
What are your options for finding freedom if you have an alcohol problem? While there are many successful programs available, couldn’t reliance on an omnipotent God also be a great source for achieving success in beating addiction? I do and so does singer Mary J. Blige. She revealed to the Christian Post that she had had a decade-long battle with alcohol addiction. In her effort to find freedom, she found success by focusing on her relationship to God instead of alcohol. The 2013 article quotes the queen of hip-hop, "I don't know why. But I didn't want to go to rehab. I believe that anything man himself can do for me, God can do for me in a greater way. I decided to pray and to seek God on my own. I just stayed in the Word. And it worked."
Years ago, I witnessed someone finding complete freedom by taking a similar approach to the one Blige took. When I met my husband, he seemed to be an alcoholic, as others in his family had been. I, on the other hand, had been raised in a very strict religious home where alcohol was never present; so it was never an issue for me as an adult. When I realized I had strong feelings for him, it was evident that I could not tolerate his drinking if we were to be married. I asked him to stop drinking. Right then; right there. I was aware that some programs are successful in getting an alcoholic clean, yet they also often lead to a lifetime of “managing” the problem but not feeling truly free. I didn’t want that for him.
I simply asked him to look to the Divine for the ability to be unchained from his desire for alcohol. He never had another drink. Was it sometimes difficult? Yes, but he found refuge in prayer and study of the Bible along with the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th century Christian healer. Interestingly, the term "recover" actually does appear in the Bible in 2 Timothy 2:26 – “That they may recover themselves.” The literal meaning of the Greek word rendered “that they may recover themselves” is: that they may awake from drunkenness. (Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers). My husband actually grew spiritually during this time and eventually he found his freedom and was able to permanently discard the chains of alcohol addiction.
Can you recover from alcoholism and be freed from the chains of addiction? Sure. Is it easy? No, but it is possible. Developing a relationship with God, prayer and hard work can indeed lead to recovery and a permanent end to the chains of addiction.
Debra Chew is a self-syndicated columnist and writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and health. She has been published in the chattanoogan.com, Memphis Commercial Appeal, The Jackson Sun, and in the UK. She is a Christian Science Practitioner and also the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science for TN. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.