Before college, I’d never faced addiction. On my first day I was in great shape and had a healthy weight. I left school five years later everely underweight and without a degree. Why? Because I was tormented daily by my all-consuming desire to numb my emotions. I never thought I’d be someone who’d have to struggle to find freedom from addiction. But now I knew I had a problem. Can you relate in some way?
It all started innocently enough. One night a friend who had a prescription offered it to help me when I was struggling. So, I tried it. To put it bluntly, it worked. I felt like I was unlocking a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities.
Searching for More
My chemically altered mind couldn’t understand “enough.” It wanted more. How much could I take at once? Would that increase my high even more? What about for other activities in life? I wanted more, and it promised me more. But the real darkness of my addiction took hold when I began using it to numb my emotions.
I went through a season when life offered me pain after pain. First I was involved in a boat accident that severely injured and nearly killed a close friend. Later that month, a friend of mine and his entire family were killed in a plane crash. Finally, my mom’s cancer returned. The pain was deep and I couldn’t imagine a God who would want me to go through this.
I decided I’d rather be numb than face the pain of that string of blows. I took more and more. As my addiction secretly grew stronger, my mindset became incessantly more focused on myself. I lied to my now wife to feed my addiction and nearly lost our relationship and stole from my friends to feed my addiction and lost the trust of those around me. I skipped class to feed my addiction and failed three semesters in a row. The wake of destruction I inflicted on those closest to me was vast, but I couldn’t see it then.
My recklessness to feed my addiction should have cost me everything I now love and hold dear, but it didn’t. You see when I was at the bottom and didn’t know how to get out, but desperately wanted to, a friend invited my new wife and me to join him at Life.Church. The God I experienced there told me that in spite of all my failures and no matter how dark I had become, He would still choose me. I learned that His grace is enough. He had a purpose for my life. My knowledge about who Jesus Christ was and what following Him could mean for me moved 12 inches from my head down to my heart.
Finding Hope and Starting Fresh
I let go of control and accepted the miraculous grace of Jesus Christ. In that moment, Jesus helped me move toward freedom. Yet, I still struggled. My habits, thoughts, and patterns as an addict had become so ingrained into my being that over the next few years I was conflicted with how to respond to life itself. I desired to respond to its challenges with maturity and strength, yet I longed to numb again and take the easy way out.
The Apostle Paul summed up my battle perfectly: I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 NLT But as I dove deeper into following Jesus and living a life for Him, I also knew this wasn’t what He wanted for me. He gave His own life to be the perfect sacrifice so I would be free. With this truth permeating deeper and deeper into my heart, I began to take practical steps.
I gained the courage to be vulnerable and invited our close friends into the struggle I was overcoming. Then, I asked them for accountability when I slipped up or was tempted. I asked them to ask me how I was doing. We took the practical action of locking away all the prescription meds in our home and only my wife had the code to the safe. Was it annoying and even depressing that I had to go to this extreme? Absolutely. But it also created a hedge and helped me not fall back as I gained more and more strength through Christ.
I began to speak openly about my struggles and how God was working on me. And as I shined light on this darkness and continued my practical steps to hedge against falling back into sin, the addiction began to lose its grip on me. I persevered through the trial and began to believe God would use this season in my life for a very specific purpose.
Lasting Freedom from Addiction
And you know what? I now have freedom from addiction. I’m not saying I never think about it, but I know God’s purpose and calling on my life are too great to compromise for a temporary relief. So, I take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ and remind myself that there isn’t a moment or circumstance in my life that hasn’t gone through His hands first. I recite the truth that He is a good Father and He will work all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I no longer need to numb—and now actually embrace—the pain of life. For I have learned gold is refined in the hot fire and even when it hurts, God is working a purpose in my life.
And you want to know the best part of my story? The same grace and power of Jesus Christ that led me to freedom from addiction is available to you, too! God provided me with a miracle of deliverance from a “life” of nothingness. He will do the same for you. So, let go of control. Invite people into your story. Put up practical boundaries to remove the temptation. And above all else, daily get into the Word of God. Let its truth permeate deep into your being. Use it as a sword to fight the battle and receive freedom from addiction!