The One About Addiction…to Anything

addictionAddiction is a word that is heavily associated with things such as alcohol, smoking and drug abuse.  The problem with that is for those of us who have absolutely no problem with alcohol or drug abuse, we tend to feel like addiction can’t take a hold of us.  Like to drink soft drinks multiple times a day?  Can’t start your day without a cup of coffee?  Do you have a compulsive need to finish that bag of chips you just opened?

 Want to go deeper?  Addiction is NOT just dealing with things you consume.  Pornography is one of the things that has a grasp on many.  Maybe you don’t struggle with pornography, so you feel as if you don’t have an addiction problem to anything – but you just might.

Facebook much?  Pinterest much?  Text much?  Candy Crush too much?  Have you played Temple Run so many times that your thumbs are raw?  Do you find yourself going to the internet to look at one thing, and two hours later wonder where your time went because you got sucked into a vortex of web surfing?

The real problem with addiction is that it is possible to be addicted to pretty much anything – and whether that addiction is to something hardcore like alcohol, drugs, or pornography, or whether it is to something less physically dangerous like Facebook, the internet, or games on your phone – it consumes you.

I’m fearful for people when they start to go down a path with things that consume them.  Denial is a big part of the problem with addiction.

After years of consuming diet soft drinks, specifically Diet Dr. Pepper, I realized I had a problem.  I could not go 5 minutes in the morning without cracking open a can and enjoying the bubbly fizz and taste of that sweet nectar of carbonation.  The caffeine would kick in, and I’d be good to go.  That is, I’d be good to go until I got to the office, or to a gas station, or to a fast food restaurant, or anywhere else where I could grab another diet drink.

One in the morning, one when I got to the office, one for lunch, one after lunch, one in the afternoon as a pick me up, one at dinner, one before bed.  If I had gone to a restaurant that day, I would have gotten 3 or 4 refills as well.  I was hooked.  The thought of drinking anything else but a diet soft drink repulsed me.  I knew I had a problem.

I had tried in the past to get off of drinking my diet drinks, but to no avail.  The longest I had gone was a month or so, but I would always cave in, giving in to stress or cravings.  But this time, on March 23, 2012, I woke up with a mission.  I was going to stop depending on this chemical to provide me with life.

Today, I have gone 410 days without having a soft drink.  99% of what I consume as a beverage is straight up water.  And let me tell you, its liberating.

Food tastes better, life is better, my stomach feels better, and I rarely have headaches anymore.

But do you want to know what happened?  My addiction moved from diet soft drinks to other things.  I started to eat more, specifically chips.  I started to play mind numbing games on my phone/ipad to calm me down.  Thats when it hit me – addiction is going to try to find a way to rule your life, especially when you have an addiction problem.

The problem with addiction is that it is a constant struggle.  It rears its ugly head when it can.  It reminds you that you need something to fill the void of something else that filled a void.

Its overpowering.  Its strong.  Can’t have a drink?  Can’t have a smoke?  That’s fine, fill it with food.  Fill it with pornography.  Fill it with ___________ .  Addiction can rule your life.

We tend to trivialize some addictions.   Coffee – oh, I’m not addicted to coffee, I don’t have to have it…yet you’re nonfunctional without it in the mornings.

Facebook?  Oh, I could close my account right now and never miss it…yet you get off the computer and go straight to your Facebook app on your phone.

I noticed the other night how addicted we are to just filling a void with something.  Its almost as if we are scared of the quiet, scared of just doing nothing, scared of having to interact.  My little girl was watching a show while sitting on my lap.  I had my phone in my hand scrolling through facebook.  My wife had her computer out looking through Pinterest.  Show goes off, my daughter goes to bed, we come back downstairs, I get my computer out, scroll through Facebook some more, and my wife gets out her computer and does the same.

So I’ve made a more conscious effort to quit relying on other things to fill the void in my life.  Maybe I should God fill that void.  If you were to clock your time – do you spend more time on Facebook or more time with God in prayer and scripture each day?

Do you spend more money a month on Starbucks or soft drinks than you put in the collection plate on Sunday?

Or if you do have a serious addiction to dangerous things such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, pornography – have you sought help?

If you’re looking for something to fill the void of a past or current addiction, or if you see yourself struggling with something that could very easily become an addiction – do something about it.

Turn to God.

Turn to a friend.

Turn to a spouse.

Don’t go at it alone.  Get some help.

Facebook, the internet, Candy Crush, coffee, soft drinks, drugs, alcohol, the list goes on and on – don’t let these things define who you are.  Don’t let them control you.

And when you give up your addictions, don’t replace them with other bad addictions.  Let go, and Let God in to your life.

100 Days…Now What??

On Saturday, June 30, I will have gone officially 100 days with only drinking water.

Its been a challenge, to say the least.

For me, I had to give up my biggest addiction – Diet Dr. Pepper – of which I was drinking 6-8 cans a day, sometimes more.

While the taste of Diet. Dr. Pepper to me was absolutely divine, it had gotten to a point where I wasn’t even drinking it for the taste, I was drinking it because my body demanded it, and I had such a strong craving I could not deny myself.

I was invited to come and speak at a Area Wide Youth Service at the Ashland City Church of Christ on the topic of sobriety. I was also invited to go and speak at the Mayfair Church of Christ for their Wednesday evening service on the topic of temptation. As I began to study and prepare for these two topics – I realized I had no business speaking to people on how to avoid when I could not avoid things myself.

So, on Friday morning, March 23, I cracked open my usual morning can of Diet. Dr. Pepper, drank about 4 sips of it, and felt sick about it. I could no longer continue letting one thing have such control of me. I put the can back in the fridge, got a bottle of water, and didn’t turn back.

That can stayed in the fridge for a good 60 days or so, along with 12 fresh cans. I was tempted and tried every single day, but did not give in. My life was not going to be controlled by a craving.

Finally, my wife asked me what my long term goal was going to be, and at that point, I realized I didn’t really have one. On Saturday, it will have been 100 days since I last put that wonderful beverage can to my lips. 100 days is a monumental moment for someone who was pouring the beverage down his throat every chance he got. But I have to say…now what?

Most of us have a problem with this – once we think we have a hold on something, we realize we don’t. I’ve kicked that sin for so many days, I have control of it now! Next thing we know, its back in our lives, because we have slowly let it take control again.

I feel like at this point in my life, I could keep them out of my life forever. But at every meal, there is a temptation and a craving still. Not too long ago, I had stopped at a Zaxby’s to eat some dinner. I was by myself. I had my cup for my water, filled it with ice, and instinctively reached for the Diet Coke, and filled my glass half full before even realizing what I was doing. I quickly poured it out and rinsed my glass, and filled it with water instead.

That just shows me how powerful cravings and temptations are. Sometimes, they have such control over us that we don’t even realize the effect they are having on us.

So, here’s to another 100 days – its become a personal challenge. I challenge you to do the same. Give up something for 100 days. Believe me when I say that if I can give up my Diet Dr. Pepper addiction, you can give up yours for 100 days.

What is it in your life that is controlling you? Maybe you need to give up Facebook for 100 days. Maybe you need to give up french fries. Maybe you need to give up smoking, drinking, cursing, soft drinks, or something else that has you wrapped around its finger.

Give it up – for 100 days – and see how much better you feel! Take control of your life again!