Substance abuse isn’t due to a chemical hook? That’s right, but the men in our yearlong recovery program come in thinking it is. Tragically, this gives the addiction even more power. Every lie believed adds to the inner bondage. In this case the lie is that the crack, alcohol or meth was all powerful; in comparison they had none.
This reduced the struggle to a will power contest which they lost consistently. Every time the substance showed up, their body craved it with an overwhelming desire and they caved in. No matter how much they wished it weren’t so, their body was physically hooked on something far bigger than themselves. This they “know” by bitter personal experience.
Most, if not all, wished to manage the addiction, to be able to reach for the substance in limited amounts and at just the right time. They usually come to us when it is raging out of control, having finally realized they are caught in the grip of something that is destroying them. Being “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” they now crave freedom from the substance more than the substance itself. You should see their eyes widen when I tell them that the power this giant had over them was never due to a chemical hook. Even better is the light of recognition that dawns in them when I explain the four reasons why.
Fact 1: The chemical leaves the body in a matter of days, leaving no trace behind. Yet, they know perfectly well that even after detox—even months after going cold turkey—the craving can spring back to life at the mere sight of the substance. Where’s the chemical hook in that?
Fact 2: Hospitals use far more powerful, medically pure, versions of the same drugs. What they buy on the street is a skimmed down, corrupted form of the real thing. Yet, no one—from little children to little old ladies—gets hooked. Where is the chemical hook in that?
Fact 3: There are all kinds of behaviors that are just as addictive that don’t involve substances and chemicals in the slightest: pornography and gambling for example. Nothing is ingested but the addiction is a bear to beat just the same. Where is the chemical hook in that?
These three facts alone ought to thoroughly disabuse us of the mistaken idea that substance abuse is a substance issue. Clearly, it’s not: it is psychological, not physical. By psychological I am including everything else about us other than our body, so let’s be sure to add in the spiritual side of life.
I am also playing with words. It’s “psycho” logical! There is a reasoning process going on, but it’s obviously crazy and convoluted. What hooks the addict is not a chemical, but deeply “cherished” beliefs, beliefs held so tenaciously in the deep heart that only the blasting power of revelation can bring freedom from them. Before anyone becomes addicted to a substance, they have had to become “addicted” to believing untruths. Here’s why:
Fact 4: God declares that He has given to every one of us the power to choose blessing or cursing, life or death, good or evil (Deuteronomy 30:19). Who has the power? We do! But if you deeply believe that something evil (crack) has a blessing you can squeeze out of it, you will be hooked on seeking it until that lie is completely exposed. For this reason God pronounced the woe of Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good.” This lie of the substance feeds into other lies even more deeply buried. There’s so much more, but that’s all for now…
Break the three lies of all addictions through “Overcoming Addictions.”