A lot is known about the mechanics of addiction these days, yet addictive lifestyles are becoming more common. There are many approaches to breaking addictions and plenty of recovery programs out there. What is working, what is not, and why? What is the path from childhood trauma to addiction and why is it so well worn? We hear a lot about chemical addiction but what about food addiction, relationship addiction, sexual addiction, and computer addictions?
The cost of addictions in personal lives and to society is huge. They affect relationships, physical and mental health, jobs, finances…there is nothing left untouched. I know the cost personally, as my father left my mother after 20 years of marriage and multiple affairs and then died 10 years ago from alcoholism.
Medicating yourself is a common outcome of child abuse. Whatever your “substance of choice” is (mine is sugar), you use it help alleviate your pain and fear. It seems better than feeling the intolerable feelings inside and seems like a good choice at the time…or at least a way to survive.
Mike Reis and son, football hero Chris Reis, have written a book called Recovery of a Lifetime about their odyssey out of addictive family patterns. Chris’s choices inspired a turnaround in his father’s life and now they speak candidly about their history and how faith has played a role in their healing. Mike grew up the son of a boozing father and a teenage mother. He was sexually abused and terrorized by his grandmother and discovered sex at an early age. He numbed his emotional pain with alcohol. After he married, extra-marital trysts and all-night drinking escapades were not uncommon. One of his affairs led to the destruction of his first marriage and left two preschool-aged sons without a father in the home.
Many never recover from a life-long addiction to sex and alcohol,. My father was one of those people. Mike and Chris’ story has a happier ending.
The truth is you have options. Whether your struggle is with drugs or porn, gaming or sugar, you are fighting the same thing. How do you deal with your pain? You live in a culture that teaches you that pain is the ultimate evil- to be avoided at all costs. Rather than seeing the pain you are perpetuating in the addiction cycle, you tell yourself the half-truth that your chosen substance will make you feel better. And it does…for awhile. Until it begins to destroy you. And then you have another choice to make.
There are all sorts of programs and interventions for treating addiction. Some things work for some people and not others. There is not a formula.
Some of the topics we will be covering in the radio series are:
- The different approaches to addiction recovery- what is working and why
- The well-worn path from child abuse to addiction
- The high cost of addiction
- Overcoming specific addictions such as relationship addiction, sexual addiction, food addition, and chemical addiction
- Overcoming BEEPS -“An attachment to a Behavior, Event, Experience, Person or Substance that is used to regulate emotion, increase pleasure or decrease Pain,” and learning how to create relational joy
One thing we know for sure is that until you address the root cause of your pain, your battle with addiction will be in vain. Without dealing with the root cause, it;s like sticking your finger in the dyke- it works until you run out of fingers. As long as the pain is not dealt with, the addiction will find a new pathway and burst forth again. you have two choices. Walk through the healing, or be destroyed by the addiction. There are no other paths. You fool yourself if you think you can “just not do it,” without doing the hard work of healing.
My father quit drinking for a year or two after he nearly died. By then he had destroyed all of his relationships. Even the glorious garden that was the one place he produced life and beauty withered away.
Sometimes I wonder what his life could have been if he had been willing to face his pain head on. Apart from the sex and alcohol addictions, he may have been a really wonderful man. Perhaps he would have used his gift of humor to encourage and uplift instead of to tear down and humiliate. It is possible that his incredible creativity and inventiveness would have found an outlet in his career. Maybe his first or even his second marriage would have been a place of love and joy. And wouldn’t it have been amazing if he could have been a father and grandfather that loved and blessed those who so wanted him to impart life to them.
I understand how hard it is to face your pain. But the choice is worth it, beloved. On this Father’s Day weekend, I choose to honor my dad through this: You have options. Healing is there for the taking. There is so much hope.
I hope you will join us for a closer look at addictions and be inspired to make the courageous choices to walk into the thriving life that awaits you.