For most of us, when we started drinking or perhaps experimenting with a drug, it was fun—something we did socially or as a way to relieve stress. Few people turn into addicts overnight, so there was a period of time that might have been considered enjoyable, recreational and social. And for some people, drinking, and even occasional drug use, will remain recreational. It may not be the wisest of recreations, but it also won’t be an addiction.
However, something different happens in the body and brain of the one who is destined to be an addict. Consuming the alcohol or the drug ceases to be a choice and moves into the realm of necessity. A drink isn’t just something shared with friends at a party; it becomes a means of dealing with life and getting through the day. And when a substance, especially one that carries so many negative side effects, becomes a need, the fun is over.
When We Can’t Refuse
But it often takes a long time to see it. We’ll convince ourselves we’re drinking or using drugs because we like it, because it’s fun or because we simply want to “take the edge off.” We’ll believe it’s a rational choice we are making. But when we don’t have the option of saying no, it isn’t much of a choice. And this is where we start to see the difference between a recreational drug user and an addict. The same progression applies to alcoholism.
Normal drinkers don’t always understand the role that alcohol plays in the life of an alcoholic. It’s a dysfunctional relationship of the worst kind—like two people who abuse each other and yet are too insecure and unstable to end it. The alcoholic sees the toll that his or her drinking is taking in all areas of life, and he or she may wish it were different, but it seems there’s no way to stop. It certainly isn’t fun anymore, but living without the high is unbearable.
The normal drinker would approach the situation differently. Anything that causes so much anguish and distress wouldn’t be worth it, and they’d make the rational choice of simply leaving it alone. The addict, however, though now hating the substance to which he or she is addicted, has to have it. There is no saying no and no turning back. He or she will try to moderate, quit or to somehow become “normal” around alcohol or drugs. But it is too late.
Why Addiction Takes Hold
Why is this? Are addicts unable to recognize the consequences and side effects of their actions? Are they simply lacking willpower and self-control? The answer to both is no. Addiction is a disease with genetic and environmental components. Some people are more prone to forming addictive patterns than others. It’s not because they are unintelligent, amoral or weak. It’s because addiction is a disease to which they are prone. Some addicts seem to fall prey to any vice, while others will have one drug of choice and nothing else tempts them. It’s a complex condition, and while there are many textbook symptoms and behaviors, it can express itself in myriad ways depending on the unique individual.
The most important thing to remember is that alcoholism and drug addiction are not choices we make. They may develop as the result of bad choices—i.e., you’re not going to become a coke addict if you never try coke—but ultimately addicts are such because they suffer from the disease of addiction. They reach the point where it’s no longer fun or enjoyable, but there’s no power to stop.
If you want to stop but find that you cannot, Christian drug and rehab centers can help. Don’t wait. God’s promises of freedom, recovery and redemption can be yours. Contact us today.