The Biggest Myth About Addiction Exposed
Do you remember coming home from school in 4th grade and telling your parents you needed a particular brand-new pair of $130 shoes? “Why do you need that?” your Mom responded. “Because,” you said, “everyone is wearing them.”
And that’s when she hit you with the question that somebody’s great-great-great-grandmother invented. “Well, if everyone jumps off a bridge are you going to jump too?”
True or true? At some point in your life, somebody has asked you that question.
But do we ever stop to think about the wisdom behind that question?
The point is that just because everyone does or says something doesn’t mean it’s right.
So, what in the world does that have to do with how to help a recovering addict?
What you are about to read could be the single, most important piece of understanding that will help you to help the person you love recover from their addiction.
So, what are we talking about?
Well, haven’t you heard the phrase, “once an addict always an addict?” You probably have. And chances are, the person you’re struggling with probably has as well. But is that statement true?
(Well, of course, it’s true. Everyone says it.)
But what are the implications of that statement if in fact, it is true?
For starters, it means that the person you are trying to help will always be an addict, forever tied to the past, and never free. There will always be that fear of being just one slip away.
But does that line up with our faith?
Consider 2 Corinthians 5:17 in the NLT which says that “anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
Did you catch that? “Anyone” includes addicts. “New” means no longer what it used to be. “Gone” means that it is no longer a part of the person’s life.
That communicates hope! Change is possible. You do not have to stay the same. So, yes, perhaps “once an addict, always an addict.” But that is until Christ gets involved. At that point, “the old life is gone [and] a new life has begun!” So, “once an addict, always an addict.” But after Christ, no longer an addict.
Yes, this does contradict conventional wisdom about substance abuse and addiction. But helping the person who is struggling to see the truth in this scripture will spark hope.
The other implication of the statement “once an addict, always an addict” is that the user must live in a constant state of fear that (s)he may mess up at any moment. There is a good bit of wise precautionary measure someone with a history of addiction must take of course. However, there is a difference between precaution and fear.
And our faith shows us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV).
God never intended for us to live in a constant state of fear, afraid that we’re not strong enough to live above and beyond our past. In fact, he says “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37 KJV). That doesn’t sound like somebody who is still a victim of their past. Nor does it sound like someone who cannot overcome it. It looks like someone with the hope that he or she “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” him or her to no longer be an addict (Philippians 4:13).
So, hope is, in fact, possible. And helping the recovering addict you love to see that (s)he does not always have to live that way, that permanent change is possible, will make a huge difference in his or her ability to recover and to move forward with freedom in life.