Addiction is a spiritual problem.
Yes, I understand there are physical and mental components, but these elements manifest themselves after we have become spiritually ill. Addiction is a symptom of spiritual malady. That is the truth, regardless of what anyone may say.
Before moving on to the solution, it is imperative to explain the mental component to better help non-addicts truly understand what it’s like to be an addict. The mental problem we have is why once we get sober, we cannot stay that way. People have to understand that there is nothing that can stop us from using once that switch goes off in our heads, even if we’ve been sober for months and months at a time. This is what it means to have no power, to have lost the power of choice. Perhaps a brief anecdote may help to describe the curious phenomenon of having a broken mind, if you will.
Years ago, while working in Boston, I writhed in bed for days like a coward before finally kicking OxyContin and heroin. I withdrew all substances from my body and was totally clean and sober. About five days later, as I began to feel better, I remember having a conversation with myself as I drove home from work. I was done. I knew it in my heart. I went over my entire life and came to grips with the tragedy, loss and heartache my addiction had caused everyone around me. I felt strong and confident. I wanted a better life. I committed to never going back. I was done for good.
Then the phone rang.
It was my one of my dealers.
This you must understand: As soon as the phone rang, for all intents and purposes, the car drove itself off of Storrow Drive and straight to my dealer’s house. I didn’t think for a split second. I couldn’t. Why? Because it was just a reflex at that point. I saw my caller ID and the entire 20-minute conversation I had with myself seconds before just vanished into thin air and I ripped the steering wheel around and sped to his house without a single thought entering my head (except what’s the quickest route?). And please don’t mistake my phone or the dealer’s number as a trigger, because it’s not. Breathing is the only trigger. If the dealer didn’t call, I wouldn’t have made it out of the city anyway. The phone is irrelevant.
To note, what I just described was purely a mental phenomenon and had nothing to do with the physical disease of addiction, or rather, the physical compulsions associated with addiction. The ‘disease’ portion of our addiction only manifests AFTER we begin using. When we are completely sober, what occurs is purely mental (and spiritual, of course).
And that, my friends, is the mental obsession. We have no defense against it. Trust me, no doctor, pill, therapy session, call from a sponsor or relapse prevention program can do anything at all once an obsession of this sort manifests itself in our minds. That is a type of insanity that cannot be fought and conquered by any human force. We are completely, utterly defenseless. That is addiction. That is why we can’t stay sober. We go insane.
So what is the solution?
If our problem is spiritual than so must be our solution.
The solution is spiritual action, or practically speaking, SERVICE. The very moment we become other-centered is the very moment we begin to change and recover permanently (mentally, not physically, as we will never be safe from actually drinking or using drugs of any sort. Our bodies are permanently damaged). But the secret to addiction is service, which is why the entire Western medical community has no clue how to treat it. They try and they try but they just can’t seem to crack it. Plus there’s no financial incentive in telling drug addicts to simply give of themselves. But if we really want to get better and truly change, we have to serve others instead of ourselves. Service is the SILVER BULLET. Best thing for addicts, by far.
And why does spiritual action and service work? Because with each right action, we are brought closer to God. And GOD, of course, can heal anybody of anything.