“My addiction saved my life.”
Ever hear someone say that? Maybe this is true for you. A lot of people tend to assume that addictions either fall out of the sky on unsuspecting persons or, worse yet, they are the result of immorality. Or to put that another way, addicts are “bad people” who are irresponsible and make bad choices.
As a recovering addict I won’t deny that I am immoral, have the capacity to be not just bad but down right evil, incredibly irresponsible and my choices are often insane. All this has been true of me and will be true of me if I do not continue on the path of recovery.
But addictions do not just happen overnight nor do they come about because a person is particularly malevolent. I did not choose to be an addict. I did not consciously choose to destroy my life and the lives of those I loved.
So when some people say that an addiction saved their life what they most often mean is that their drug of choice provided a suitable coping mechanism during a time of need. Maybe it was abuse or neglect that led them to seek an escape. Depression, loneliness, pain, emptiness – all reasons why people grasp for something that will, if only temporarily, help them forget about reality and drift off into fantasy.
For a season, our drug of choice acts as our savior. A soothing balm protecting us from an other-wise hostile and uncertain world.
But eventually this savior turns into an even harsher task-master than even the starkest reality. The balm becomes the ball and chain, degenerating us into slaves. This is what I imagine when I read the words of David the Psalmist when he pens:
The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;
their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.
16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice;
the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
What we thought would save us from the encroaching and dangerous world ends up becoming the net that ensnares us. What was saving our life is now draining our life. We realize that all substitute saviors are but slave-makers.
But there is hope! The Psalmist continues:
But God will never forget the needy;
the hope of the afflicted will never perish.
I’m grateful that God does not forget we who are afflicted and needy, who have struggled to save ourselves only to wind up at the bottom of the pit we have dug. When what used to work is no longer working but driving us deeper into misery, it’s time to look up from the ashes and admit we cannot save ourselves.