We Are All Addicts

I had the privilege of recently attending a graduation ceremony for a rehab. It was for my dad (and, I write that with his permission).

Truly, the graduation could have been for anyone: you or me, someone from Plano or Highland Park, someone from Willow Pond or Village Oaks. That is a beautiful thing about recovery. The playing field is leveled.

In recovery, people treat each other as fellow human beings trying to figure out how to navigate today. Past life circumstances don't matter today. What matters is that we all have something, and we are there to be honest about it and get some help to make it through today as the best version of ourself. It is the best form of church I know of.

I was reminded as I sat in my dad’s ceremony that we are all addicts in some way.

We all have some thing (or some things) we deal with that causes shame, anger, unmet expectations, pain, etc. An environment that causes those emotions is a dangerous place to live. Our minds get messed up and we don't think clearly. So, we adapt. We change. We begin to self medicate these nasty emotions: We take another drink. We tell another lie. We stuff our emotions. We buy our way to a wonderful looking life. We belittle others to distract attention from ourselves. It really is quite nasty when you stop to think about it, and none of us is above adapting to our environment. It is just a matter of how we do that.

How we adapt, in my opinion, has something to do with being surrounded by love.

In a recent Huffington Post article, an amazing study was referenced about addiction. As I mentioned earlier, I believe we are all addicts in some way. So, this article did two things for me: 1. detailed amazing evidence about how to help each other with addiction, and 2. painted a stunningly beautiful, happening-right-now picture of what Jesus’ love looks like and has the power to do.

The author, referencing his own experience and the study on addiction, writes:

“Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It's how we get our satisfaction. If we can't connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find -- the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about 'addiction' altogether, and instead call it 'bonding.' A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn't bond as fully with anything else. So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

The author goes on towards the end of the article:

“Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love…but we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.” (See Romans 1:23 for a similar perspective).

In this world, when we “direct our gaze at the human beings all around us,” what do we see? It is my hope that people will see two things: love and the source of love: Jesus. (1 John 4:7-4:21 explains this better than I am able, using the word ‘love’ 27 times in 15 verses!).

The good news is environments can change (for good and bad) and we can adapt (in a healthy or unhealthy way). That is precisely why we need each other. That is why Behind Every Door has planted in underserved communities. That is why we want to be present every day.

Behind Every Door wants to change environments. We want to help others help themselves and each other. And, we want to be changed and helped in the process. To be clear, this isn’t us-versus-them or I’m-here-with-all-the-answers. This is: I’m here, you are here, we both have ‘stuff’ so let’s try to make life better together. And, I’m happy to say life is getting better!

Will Dowell  |  Executive Director

Posted on April 16, 2015 .