Most of us don’t know how much addictions interfere with our lives. I was raised in a strict family that went to church every week. The rule was, each of us had to attend something at church three times each week. I can complain now, but my strict parents raised me in a bad part of town, and kept me away from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. I don’t feel better than anyone else, but I am healthy now.
I went to a high school where parts of the building were controlled by drug dealers. Only a few washrooms were safe and the people sleeping in the stairwells were probably high and unconscious. I’m a high school drop-out because I quit when a university accepted my course record. I was never a user; I lived in the shadow of addiction. There are many of us. Groups like Al-Anon are for those of us who live close to addiction, but don’t experience it directly.
In school, I wondered why some of my friends were so thin, and had rotten teeth. They were probably addicted to heroin, and they were my good friends. Looking back, I can see that it is true; every addiction takes hostages. We can imagine one addict, alcoholic, drug addict, chain smoker, or possibly someone with a sexual misdirection, but many of us are in the extended family of the addiction. Children, spouses, and parents can experience this, and also classmates, friends, distant relatives, and anyone who cares. Most people reading this know what I mean.
The addiction net spreads very wide.
There is one other problem with addictions. Deadly addictions are becoming cheap and easy. I remember the movie “The French Connection” where criminals struggled to bring drugs from other continents, and the police fought them all the way. Drug dealers had short life spans.
Now we have “Breaking Bad.” Pills from any pharmacy can do more damage than smuggled heroin or cocaine, and commercial chemicals can be modified in simple labs, close to where we live. And the addictive power of new ‘designer drugs’ like fentanyl make the old stuff seem almost harmless. I’m glad we didn’t have the dangerous new stuff in my high school. Add to that an Internet with unlimited pornography, and possibly hook ups with live people, and all with a few clicks of computer mouse.
If we do the math, add this all up, we have more addiction, many more addicts, and a vast number of us in the extended family. The total is a plague of biblical proportions. Brace yourself, something big is coming down on us.
We live in an interesting time in history. One joke is that we have the astounding power of the Internet, and we use it to send out pictures of cats. That is correct, and we do other things with out new powers.
I was in a church a couple Sundays back, and I thought, there is a past and there is a future, and between is right now, the best time for a decision. The trick is to make sure the future is completely different from the past. That change of direction can happen in the ‘right now’ time. With our epidemic of addictions, we can see this need clearly.
I inserted the word “break” to make a point. What you were, should not be what you are. Some people reading this are trapped in the new addictions, and most of us are in the extended family, in a distorted relationship, or grieving for someone who can’t recover. If Jesus is real, the past cannot be the future. I am living that.
It sounds strange, but I hope your new year is free from addictions. That fire burns too many of us. Some of us are fortunate and we never were burned in the addiction fire; some never went to my high school. If that is you, I believe you can find someone who is closer to the problem. Your friendship might be more important than you know.
In the new year, I hope we all find the way to be free from addictions: