Authored by Mara Hodler
Maybe you have found yourself in the scary trap of addiction. Addiction is when you lose control of the ability to say “no” to something or walk away from it. If you realize that you may be addicted to something, know that you are not alone.
Here are some clues to help you determine whether or not you have an addiction.
1. Your life revolves around your addiction. Say you’re addicted to gaming. This means that your happiness, your life, revolves on the next gaming marathon. Nothing else matters.
2. You are touchy about the topic of addiction, and find yourself denying that you have an addiction. If you regularly hear yourself say, “I can quit at any time,” that’s a good clue that you’re in denial.
3. You find it easy to lie and cover up for yourself and your addiction.
If you have realized that you are addicted to something—whether it’s gaming, sports, television, shopping, texting, an eating disorder, or even smoking or possibly drugs or alcohol—the first thing to do is to honestly admit to yourself that you’re trapped by an addiction. You may not like admitting that. It might make you angry with yourself or the people who have intervened, or maybe it makes you feel hurt or frustrated, or you feel like giving up. Please don’t!
You do face a tunnel, but there IS a light at the end of it.
After you have admitted that you have a problem, you are in a place where you can get help, and get help you must! You will probably find that your loved ones are eager to support you. They’ve probably been aware of your addiction for a while and were waiting for an opportunity to help you clean up and turn your life around.
Don’t delay in getting help. Do it now. It may mean that you will have to allow your life to be turned inside out for a bit. You might not like the meddling and attention. You might not like the accountability, but you need it!
Here’s a recap of what we’ve covered so far:
—Acknowledge that you have a problem
—Get help from your family and friends, or a support group
—Take action immediately
These are all things you can do. They don’t require money or resources that are beyond your reach. They just require you to fight for yourself and for your future. There are a lot of people who have walked the tough road to freedom that you are embarking on. I have to tell you that some succeed and some do not. Determination is required to kick an addiction.
The Bible says that “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”1
There are many scientific and medical protocols for how to overcome an addiction or break a bad habit, or create new ones, for that matter. They are valid and proven repeatedly. But there is another advantage available to followers of Jesus, and that’s the fact that God promises to give you the power to become a new creature.
The victory does not hinge on your strength alone. In fact, God’s Word promises that He will be strong even when you feel weak. Take heart in that promise and take it one day at a time.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2
For many people, an addiction is something they use to mask a problem or issue that is bothering them. It can even be something like feeling insecure around your friends.
Maybe you’re really shy but you feel bolder when you drink. Maybe you feel like you aren’t good at much, but when you get into your gaming you are able to kick the bad guy’s butt, and that makes you feel good. Of course, I’m not saying that anyone who plays video games has an addiction. Gaming can be lots of fun and a part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m referring here to a gaming habit that is out of control to the point that more time is spent gaming than in any other activity.
As you continue on your path to freedom and wellness, it’s a good idea to take a look at the issues that drive you toward your addiction. Find out what your triggers are and do something about them.
One teen I know, Jerry, always felt uncomfortable in social situations. Parties and group events made him nervous. He always worried that maybe he’d say the wrong thing, embarrass himself, or maybe no one would want to talk with him. Or maybe no girls would give him a second glance. These fears made him so anxious that he would actually say the wrong thing, and the vicious cycle would begin.
He discovered that a shot or two of whiskey from his dad’s liquor cabinet would take the edge off, and so his drinking problem began. About six months into it, his parents started to notice how fast the whiskey was going, along with Jerry’s unusual behavior and Jerry’s uncharacteristic rudeness, so they confronted him about it.
Jerry thought he had it under control, but when he saw how it was affecting his family, friends, and his future, he grew concerned. He wanted to stop, but what would he do about the problems that drove him toward it in the first place? How would he conquer his anxiety?
His parents helped him in a number of ways: They spent two weeks at home with him, making sure he did not take a drink. They talked, played games, worked on projects, and made plans for the future. As a family they also started daily devotions, so that they made sure Jerry had some positive and strengthening input.
They also enrolled Jerry in a support group where he could get support from other teens that had the same problem. In that group Jerry learned that he was not alone, not just with drinking but also with the problems that drove him to drinking in the first place.
To help with the anxiety, his parents signed him up for a martial arts class. In that class, Jerry was able to hone a skill, build confidence, and learn about physical and mental discipline.
Within six months, Jerry felt like he was renewed. He was stronger. He was happier. He had made a few very close friends. He had addressed the triggers that led to his addiction. And, best of all, he knew how much his parents loved him and would fight for him and with him. He also learned that with God’s help there was no chain of addiction that could not be broken.
1 2 Corinthians 5:17 AKJV
2 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 NKJV
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International