Addiction Recovery: Rebuilding our Connection to God

In an excellent article on the nature of addiction, Dr. Helen M. Farrell, M.D., puts forward the theory that rather than being a problem which is endemic to people hailing from a particular background, addiction is, in fact, a problem of lack of connection. Dr. Farrell relates the story of Sam, an old friend who had been the typical ‘winner’ at school: good at sport, a straight A student and the kind of guy who everyone wanted to have around. That all changed, says Farrell, when Sam grew addicted to drugs and alcohol in college. “He began to withdraw and isolate,” she says, which was “just fine, because nobody wanted Sam around anymore. He had  become a liar. A thief. A cheat.”

Farrell notes that as her psychiatry training progressed, she often thought of Sam. She grew to understand that shame and fear of criticism, stopped addicts from seeking help. It is difficult for society to see someone who is addicted as a whole person: one who can still be a good worker, a true and loving friend, a committed partner. Many secretly battle their addictions while ostensibly leading a ‘normal’ and ‘successful’ life, fearful of letting go of their ‘righteous’ image.

The opposite of addiction, says Farrell, is not sobriety, if not connection. Today, she says, her old friend, Sam, is sober, holding down a job and happily married with a baby. What enable him to turn his back on addiction, was letting others in.

No man is an island, and it is when we are weakest that we need to peel back the surface and let people into our hearts. It is very much the same with God; if our partner, friends and children can give us a boost of strength, imagine what God can do. Faith can move mountains, even when they reside within us. God is Love, and by letting Him into our hearts, we begin to comprehend that we are not the only who struggles; all human beings are, by nature, imperfect. God shows us the nature of unconditional Love: he is always there for us, even when we have made big mistakes. He extends his grace to us without recrimination. He makes us feel worthy of His love, and the love of others.

Farrell notes that there are two ways for loved ones to approach addiction: first of all, instead of focusing on ‘hitting rock bottom’, they should try to foster better connections than those which alcohol and drugs can provide. Secondly, they should try to help the addict identify the need they are trying to fulfill through alcohol and drugs, and give them hope that there is a better way to satisfy this need.

Anyone who has been to a recovery event knows that addiction does have a silver lining; when we let God’s love into our lives, we allow Him to fulfill our every need and take His hand as he guides us through the uphills and downhills of our lives.

Read Helen Farrell's article - 

Some readers may wish to watch a similar TED talk by Joann Hari:

Missi Davis, 08/11/2015
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