Authored by Mara Hodler
I’ve been thinking a lot about addiction lately. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s been triggered by some of the stories that I’ve recently heard about various addictions, or the TV shows I’ve seen, or even by some habits I’ve formed in my own life that have caused me to question whether or not I’m in control and steering my life in the direction that I know it should go in.
For example, I realized that I was addicted to sweets. If I was bored, I would look for something “fun” to eat. Celebrating something? Well, let’s have a treat. Tired? I guess I just need a sweet pick-me-up … and on and on the reasons went. Eventually, sooner rather than later, it showed in my weight, my energy level, my complexion. And I was not happy with what I saw. The way I looked and felt was negatively affecting my self-confidence and ability to enjoy life. You will be happy to know that I have since done something about it. I cut sugar out of my life for a while and I have broken the addiction. Yay, me!
There are hundreds of addictions out there. Some are dangerous and life-threatening, some are just life-altering or life-stealing in that they steal your time away from the life that you could be living. One thing that all addictions have in common is that they steal your freedom.
If someone came up to you with a ball and chain and said, “Hey, let me put this ball and chain on your leg. Yes, you will have to pay me every day to wear this ball and chain. It will hurt you sometimes, but other times you will feel on top of the world! Would you let me put this on you?” You’d probably tell the person to get lost (or at least you should!).
Addictions come across as innocent things. Often it’s just something cool to try, and something you feel you can stop at any time. But before you know it, the ball and chain is fastened to your leg, and it’s so much harder to free yourself than you ever imagined it would be when you took your first drink, or smoked your first smoke, or played your first all-nighter video game marathon.
The easiest way to live free of addictions is to not become addicted in the first place. Have you ever heard the saying “Bad habits are like a comfortable bed; easy to get into, but hard to get out of”? Everyone from the tobacco and alcohol companies, movies and media, to the devil himself, would be pretty happy to have you addicted to what they’re offering, because once you’re addicted, you are a slave to their product. Following is a short list of things you can know and do to protect yourself from the sneaky tentacles of addictions.
1. Understand the facts:
If you inform yourself about the effects of drugs and alcohol, you will be much more convinced as to why you should stay away from them. For some people, it’s easy enough to take the word of their parents and teachers; others might actually want to research this for themselves. Find out what alcohol and drugs can do to your body, your relationships, and ultimately your life.
Or maybe, like me, you have to research what excessive sugar can do to your body, or how video games affect you, or how excessive texting can affect your real-life friendships, or how excessive shopping can affect your finances. Generally speaking, these forms of addictions are not life-threatening or illegal, but they can still steal your time and resources.
2. Understand yourself:
Think about what you want for your life. Those with goals and a plan are much less likely to get tangled up with addictions. They put their time and resources toward achieving their goals. Practice saying no to things you don’t want to do. I know that sounds funny, but research is showing that people sometimes say yes to stuff simply because they do not know how to say no.
Don’t leave yourself vulnerable.
3. Know where the danger lurks:
This is all about staying away from compromising situations once you have already identified an addiction. If you know of a party where there’s going to be underage drinking, find something else to do that night. If you know that a certain crowd hangs out together and gets stoned, stay away from that crowd. Don’t dance with danger. It’s just not worth it!
The Bible says, “For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”1 God made an investment in you. He bought you with the life of His Son, and His intentions for you are so much more than a life strung out on an addiction.
God intends for you to be happy, free, and safe. He wants you to be able to live a life that glorifies Him. He wants you to be able to achieve your dreams. He wants you to be able to use your hands and heart to serve others.
So think about it today and make the choice in your heart to keep your life free from addictions. Make friends who have the same plans, and talk about how you will support each other in keeping addictions out of your lives by not getting involved with drugs, alcohol, or other harmful activities and substances. Talk about how you will help each other reach your goals and stay focused.
God has a special plan for your life. He wants you free and happy so that you can live life to the full!
1 1 Corinthians 6:20
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International