Last week’s Newsweek had a cover article about addictions. Being an addict myself, I’m always interested in new research and thoughts. Unfortunately, reading the article brought some serious disappointment.
It was as if the author(s) of the article had no real experience with addictions; or, if they did, were still largely in denial. Right from the beginning, this comment was made:
“If you weigh advances in neuroscience over the last few decades against social and spiritual progress, it’s clear which field is more likely to produce the next breakthrough in treatments.”
Yes, some serious advances have been made in neuroscience, I don’t want to discount that in anyway, but there have been some tangible advances in the social and spiritual realms also. Though I’m not a sociologist, I do have some spiritual training and experience. Though this may be an esoteric field, it is not without its published research and direction.
In fact, the religious world may have some room to grow, and I say that without a hint of sarcasm, the advances in the spiritual disciplines is fantastic. Now, more than ever, are we standing on the shoulders of some great spiritual pioneers and those who care to learn, are able to connect in ways that bring transformation, authenticity, and reality.
Yes, there are medical conditions that lead people to a life of destructive addictions, but there are a number of social conditions also. At the heart of all of this is the spiritual angst that leaves us without purpose and without meaning. As we connect with our creator, our higher power, our God – we are better able realize the healing necessary to escape the chains of our addictions.
Many have found great healing by working the steps. These 12 steps enable a person to move past the denial and into a place where healing can occur. I have found, in my own recovery, and in working with others, that understanding the problem and being willing to surrender the will are huge leaps of faith. The authors of the Newsweek article concluded with this:
“The 12 Steps begin with a confession of powerlessness over addiction. But there’s hope that science may some day help put that power within the reach of anyone who needs it. And then who would choose not to grasp it, and begin the long war for sobriety—a war without end, but one worth the fighting.”
Even taking a medical journey towards healing requires a certain surrender to the experience and training of another. Whether pursuing social, medical, or spiritual cures, one will have to admit that they themselves are unable to conquer the demons of addiction on their own. In fact, those that relapse often fall into the trap of thinking they have this disease conquered – that’s when they fall.
I was struck by how this article failed to realize the real world of addiction from the spiritual and social aspects. In fact, it was as if the author went out of the way to slam the spiritual approaches. Then, at the very end, the statement that slams an admission of powerlessness. It is obvious that they don’t understand the next two steps in the process.
There have been numerous medications that have helped addicts for years. Antidepressants, sleep aids, and a variety of other medications help addicts to achieve greater health in a way that keeps them from self-medicating. I’m hoping that the new addiction vaccines and other wonder drugs will enable more addicts to come clean and live the abundant life. I pray that people will take whatever route necessary to achieve sobriety. But let’s not slam the programs that are working.
This is not an us and them. Spiritual, social, medical, and mental health practitioners can, and should, work together to achieve a better life, holistically, for the people we work with.