A.k.m. A New Life is Waiting
Addiction is a decimator. We say it over and over in the rehab industry, that addiction is a disease and that it does not simply affect the addict—it alters the lives of the people around the addict as well. Addiction recovery has been cast in the shadows as though it were a shameful thing, something to hide from your neighbors, something to keep from your friends. Addiction itself is like cancer, in that it needs significant treatment so that the infected person gets well; it is unlike cancer in that most people with cancer want to get well, and most people with addiction don’t. That is the greatest tragedy of addiction—that people who could get better don’t want to.
If you look closely, it’s easier than you may think to find people whose lives have been touched by addiction. Most of them are not in recovery themselves, but their families have been affected by it, or their friends have been wounded by it.
Addiction is a decimator.
I write this not because I was ever an addict, but because I have a story too. At this very moment, my aunt is dying from cirrhosis of the liver. She has been an alcoholic and drug addict for many years, in and out of rehab and sober living houses. Each time she has turned back to substance abuse. We knew this day would probably come, but now that it’s here, it’s hard to look it in the eye. I don’t want to imagine the pain that my cousin, her daughter, is going through. My other cousin, a 30 something man with a wife and kids, has followed his mother into addiction and lives on people’s couches, dealing drugs and often going off the radar, only to resurface when he’s in crisis or needs money.
But this isn’t the first time that our family has dealt with addiction.
My mother’s biological father was an alcoholic. She said she only saw him a handful of times during her childhood when he was sober. He died of his alcoholism.
My step grandfather—still on my mother’s side—died of lung cancer. I can never smell pipe smoke without thinking of him. But I would have gladly given up the association if he had quit using tobacco. It might have saved his life.
Addiction is a decimator.
It has left holes in my family. It has created deep wounds and emotional needs that will never be filled. Not a single drop of alcohol is worth the pain that alcoholism causes. Not one “good time” is worth the damage that drug addiction causes.
It is traumatizing to watch a person destroy him or herself. I know addiction changes brain chemistry, that it creates the compulsion to use, that the luxury of choice—once utilized, in the very beginning—completely disappears. But even if addiction creates compulsion, it doesn’t take away consciousness. It doesn’t take away a person’s ability to ask for or agree to get help. This, a disease that looks the most fatal and hopeless, is not hopeless. It is not always fatal. People get well.
If I could tell any addict something, especially my cousin who is following the path of addiction, I would say this: turn back. You can. You can turn back now before the end. It isn’t hopeless. You don’t have to give up. You might feel powerless, but life doesn’t have to be this way.
You can get well.
Addiction is a decimator, but God is a healer. Life change is right around the corner, and your friends and family can help you, treatment can help you, God can help you. It will not be easy—no one said it would be—but it will be worth it. You have to try. And then keep trying. You will fail. Try again. You aren’t done yet. Turn back before your story ends in disaster. It can still end in victory.
If you read the stories of these other people who have recovered, you can see that they live in victory. Every day is a new battle that they win. They aren’t done yet, and neither are you. Don’t wait another second. Too many people have already been lost. That doesn’t have to be you.
A new life is waiting—all you have to do is ask for it.