Addiction to alcohol and illegal drugs is increasing and can be deadly. According to the Illinois Department of Human services, “Over 5,500 deaths among Illinois residents each year, over 5% of all deaths, are directly or indirectly related to the use of alcohol and other drugs.”
Justin Wolfe, a clinical therapist at Linden Oaks Hospital told me, “We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg. The deception is that substances, such as alcohol, marijuana and other drugs don’t reject us, they accept us, offering instant gratification – but they really don’t offer anything but isolation – you may exist, but you certainly are not living.”
Wolfe spoke of the changes in thought and lifestyle that need to take place to overcome addictive behavior.
“The addict needs to develop new friends, new skills, new attitudes,” Wolfe stated.
“It begins with HOW, which stands for honesty, open-mindedness and willingness,” Wolfe commented. And that mental change is vital to recovery.
More and more individuals feel that this change of thought comes from looking for a deeper view of oneself, one that is God-like and separate from drugs and abuse. A spiritual identity, if you will. St. Paul told early Christians, “…put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,…and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 5: 22, 24).
Helping individuals put off the old patterns of addiction and find a spiritual identity helps them overcome shame. “They internalize that they are bad,” Wolfe told me, “so it is important to realize that the abuse is the bad. It is the behavior it is not you.”
Separating bad behavior from one’s own identity is an important shift in thought that can bring success in overcoming the drug habit.
This need for developing a new identity and people to encourage it often turns individuals to a wide variety of intervention and support groups, including faith-based groups. Connecting with a spiritual identity helps them separate who they are from the addicted behavior.
There are ways out of alcohol and drug addiction. It begins with HOW – honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. It also includes a recognition of the innate goodness in each of us.
Next month – a life redeemed from a cocaine addiction.