Addiction and God

Can the Lord help with Addiction?

I’ve lived an extremely blessed life; I have money to eat, and a roof over my head, and a body that is fairly compliant with what I need to do. More people than you’d believe can’t say the same. But something that keeps me up at night, the terrifying thought that haunts my dreams, is that one day I’ll find myself battling a chemical addiction. I’ve been too close to too many people who have had their lives destroyed by drugs and alcohol for it to not frighten me, and Christians need to change how we talk about it.

Ever since the 80s, with Reagan’s “war on drugs”, the prevailing conversation surrounding drugs has been one of personal failing, that an addiction is a personal flaw, a sign that there is something deeply wrong with the person in question. We’ve been taught that addiction is a choice, because using drugs is a choice; we’ve been taught to see the suffering of people battling addiction as their just punishment from god, a divine retribution for past mistakes.

I ask you this: Is this the God you know? Does the God we love and worship shrug his shoulders and say “Well, they decided to take drugs, and this is what they get?” Of course not, and neither should we. It’s time we start talking about addiction as the disease it is, not a personal failing, not a character flaw. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye and instead extend a hand of friendship and kindness to those fighting a battle we can’t see or understand.

I had a friend go to rehab once. When he came out, I tried to reach out to him, but quickly realized he was avoiding me. When I finally cornered him at a cafe, I asked him why he hadn’t wanted to see me and he said something I’ll never forget- “I didn’t want to see you because I thought you’d treat me like a sinner.” I went home, and I got on my knees, and I wept for God’s forgiveness. Who was I to multiply my friend’s suffering? Who was I to pass judgement? That is
not my job. As Christians, this is not our calling. Through my actions and  speech, my friends had come to believe that my faith would cause me to shun him, and so before I could do so he tried to shun me instead. We need to find within ourselves the power to change the conversation around addiction. We have to find a way to love our struggling brothers and sisters, because that’s what God does.

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