The Spiritual Sickness of Addiction
By Scott Denton
Poet and philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” One of the promises of AA also states, “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” Both of these are especially true when it comes to the sickness of addiction. As addicts and alcoholics, we got caught in making the same mistakes over and over in life. We always found a way to learn our lessons the hard way. Some early in life, others later on.
Eventually, a lot of us hit a breaking point in active addiction. We become desperate for an escape out of our self-destructive lifestyle. I spent fifteen out of thirty years of my life with what I now understand to be a spiritual sickness. We use drugs and alcohol as an escape or as a mask. We use them to numb something that we dislike about ourselves. We use them because we are uncomfortable in our own skin without them. The longer I have been clean and sober, the more I realize we must remember our past so we don’t make the same mistakes. We also cannot shut the door on it completely, for it makes us who we are today.
The Beginning of My Spiritual Sickness
I started with alcohol and marijuana. Eventually, I would begin to experiment with any and every drug I could find. Never did I think that one day my choices in life would lead me to seek help at an Ohio Addiction Recovery Center. The reason I believe there is truth about addiction being a spiritual sickness is based on my own past. I grew up in a seemingly normal yet somehow dysfunctional family. My older brother would constantly tease me, pick on me and try to bring me down any way he could.
I was also getting bullied by classmates at school. I was a smaller stature compared to others, which made me an easy target. I had difficulty understanding why people felt the need to be mean towards me. I never did harm to anyone. I was also never popular with girls either. I had very few people that I considered friends in high school. All these things added up to anger, resentment, low self-esteem and depression.
Substances Were My Solution
I discovered drugs and alcohol as a solution to my own spiritual sickness. I would use them to numb myself at parties, making me not care what other people thought about me. I could live in my own world with my own set of rules with substances. They would soon become my solution to every problem I had in life. I lost jobs because they were too stressful. The stress would cause me to turn to drinking and drugs. I attempted to go to college. I had difficulty applying myself like I could have. I would easily get discouraged when things got tough. Naturally, I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with stresses of college. I would end up dropping out due to lack of motivation, focus and excessive partying.
Using drugs and alcohol to cope with stress and challenges of life is a part of the spiritual sickness. We do not have any other solution. We do not want to face our problems head on, but run away from them instead. We use drugs and alcohol as a way of running away from them. I am the only member of my family without a college degree. I was always the type of person that compared myself to others. I envied others for what they had- financial success, good career, girlfriend, wife, kids, etc. The spiritual sickness in me focused too much on what I did not have, rather than appreciating what I do.
Going into rehab and into recovery allowed me to cleanse myself of the spiritual sickness of addiction. Everyone’s spiritual sickness may be due to different reasons. Mine stemmed from self-loathing, anger, envy and the inability to handle the obstacles of life reasonably. Being clean and sober has given me a spiritual clarity and enlightenment. Only those who have struggled with addiction but overcame it will know.
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