I watched a special last night on Oprah Prime. The topic was substance addition, prescription drug usage and street heroin. I had no idea that heroin addiction has doubled in the last 5 years! The statistics are alarming. Drug addiction doesn’t look like it used to. Addicts can look like your next door neighbor, the clerk at the store, a middle aged homemaker, a nurse at a hospital. Sometimes it starts with a medical procedure and prescription pain relievers and then when that is no longer affordable or available (depending upon insurance and refills) there can be problems. One alternative: Buying drugs on the street where they are cheap and available.
There is a problem in our community with addition – all kinds, from alcohol to meth. It is so sad to see what it does to families. The addiction takes over – nothing is more important. All common sense and reasoning goes out the window. Simple things like grocery shopping and paying rent become second only to the drug of choice.
What I found interesting in all the stories told from last nights episode was this: All have an emptiness that needs to be filled. Some expressed that it is a spiritual emptiness. And by “spiritual” they don’t necessarily mean a relationship with God (although I believe that is what would help the addiction problem) but an emotional/relationship emptiness and void that needs filling.
We often enjoy watching Hoarders and have remarked that all these people with this condition of “hoarding” seem to also have an emptiness or void that they try to fill through shopping and accumulations of “things”. It is a very real and growing problem in our world today. And every one of them – almost without exception, had something traumatic happen to them at a young or impressionable age. Sometimes it was even something later, like the death of a child or loved one – a financial reversal or loss of job. Whatever the reason, there are common elements to addiction and disorders such as hoarding.
Self loathing, hatred, feelings of helplessness and unworthiness are also a common theme. Last night in the interview, Russell Brand confessed to his years of struggle with drug addiction. Now more than 10 years sober – he says every day is still a struggle. As he explained how the drugs – particularly heroin makes you feel – it is no wonder that it can pull people in and set them up to fail. It is an unending cycle of dependency and abuse. He has seen many senseless deaths of friends caught in the trap of addiction and understands all too well how it happens. But I was struck most by his comment, “There was a voice in my head that wanted me dead” That made me sit up and take notice. Do I believe that voice is demonic in nature? Yes. Absolutely. It’s just like Satan.
” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
Crazy scary stuff! But it also makes sense. People lose themselves in the feeling that takes over their lives and nothing else matters. It is a form of suicide, just like anorexia. A self loathing of immense proportions. And I recognize that this is evil and demonic. Satan wants us all dead. That’s his agenda, and he’s not good at hiding it.
This makes me very sad.
As a Christian I can see another side to addiction. I can see life, health, purpose, prosperity of the soul, forgiveness, common sense, kindness, honesty, giving, graciousness and most of all…love.
Christianity is not just a crutch – like so many out there looking for something to fill that empty void. Christ is the filling. The freedom He gives us is not just a temporary “fix” – it is a way of living. It lasts. It endures. It lengthens life and relationships. Not just in this lifetime – but the next one too. It does not rob. It gives. When we don’t have to just depend on ourselves for “things” to fix us or fulfill us, but instead can give ourselves over to a loving God who not only created us – but has a plan for us – it changes things. It takes the pressure off. Gives purpose. Gives life, a clear and sober mind, health of body and most of all – fills the void inside. Because He loves us – it doesn’t matter what others may have done to us – His plan and purpose for us is always healthy, always reassuring and always builds us up rather than tearing us down. When we are full of love from Him – we are free to love others and give to others out of that love. It is a release from the prison that others find themselves in.
Those of us who find ourselves free from addiction are very fortunate. But being fortunate does not give license to be judgmental or critical to those who are. Instead of looking at people with addictions as weak, stupid, or even hardened criminals – we need to look on them with compassion and the love of Christ. As a Christian this can be the hardest thing of all. The “I’m OK – you’re NOT OK” seems to fit most of us with a healthy lifestyle. The “how stupid” or “what a weak person” comments are never far from our thoughts. If only “they” were just like me. If only they had real resolve and will power they wouldn’t be in this fix or lifestyle. We say these senseless things without having any idea the journey others are on.
Dear Jesus – soften our hearts to accept others with their addictions and problems – just as they are. Help us to see them as you see them – broken but wonderful creations loved by you. Help us live in such a way that those that are bound by things here on earth will see YOU in US. And by seeing YOU – they will want what you offer – hope, freedom, peace, forgiveness, love, acceptance, purpose and health. Help us live in such a way that you are attractive. That You would be a real solution to a huge unsolvable way of life. I pray that the inner void would be filled by something that will last – a relationship with you. And that I would be aware and take an active part in bringing about real change. This is my prayer. Help us. Humble us. Teach us. Break our hearts. Amen.