Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My own battle with addiction

"He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
and broke their chains in pieces."
~Psalms 107:14 NKJV

December 23, 2012 was the day I quit smoking cigarettes.  I only remember because it was the last church service my little brother attended with me.  My husband and I had just had a distinct conversation about addiction.  We concluded, "how can we expect him to quit shooting heroin if we can't even quit smoking??"  My brother had barely made it through service; he nods off when he's high.  He nodded off a whole lot during that morning's 9am service.  We get back to the car in the parking lot, after service, and he starts to light up a cigarette; I snap at him, "what are you doing?"  He retorts, "what?" 

"Can you please not light up in the church parking lot, for goodness sakes??" 

I drop him back off at our parents' house; he's wasn't working at the time because he couldn't be trusted with any money.  We thought maybe that would prevent him from using.  It instead just made him more conniving.  He found ways to sneak around, lie, cheat, steal, manipulate, anything it took to score one hit.  It's still a mystery how much he has stolen from my parents.  The last time my dad asked him to leave, he found credit card statements a month later with cash-advances charged by my brother on grocery runs.  Since my dad is disabled, I'm sure it was easier to have my brother run into the store to pick up a gallon of milk for my son, on the days that they would help watch him while I was at work.  He took full advantage.  We're still not completely sure how he did it.  My dad thought it was safe to hand him the plastic instead of cash.  That day my dad asked him to leave, he was just in the next room.  My brother often stepped out back to smoke a cigarette.  My mom had gotten home early from work, and noticed the car was missing from the street, where it was normally parked to the side of the house.  My dad was completely baffled.  How did he sneak the keys from the pocket of my dad's pants?  How did he leave without him hearing?  How long had he been gone?  How did he get the money?  Who is he getting it from?  How did he get in contact with the dealer?  How many times has a drug dealer been to our house and know where we live?  Seen our nice cars parked in the driveway?  How? What? Where? How many?  How long?  WHY?????

So much effort has been expended into investigating my brother's schemes.  We're all so worn out.  Burned out.  Starting to feel numb by the constant presence of the devil in my brother's midst.  He allows the darkness into all of our lives, by allowing it into his own.  It's so unfair. 

They say quitting cigarettes is harder than quitting heroin.  I wouldn't know, because I've never been on heroin.  But I do know they allow cigarettes in prison.  They allow cigarettes in rehab.  And I've heard it's because it's impossible to treat nicotine addiction.  That's why all of these cigarette companies have been able to figure out how to capitalize on it further...by providing a "safer" alternative.  I agree the vapor/e-cigs are "safer" than regular cigarettes that contain tobacco and a gazillion toxic chemicals, but it is still an addiction.  It's still substance abuse.  I pray it doesn't create a new phenomenon of an accepted form of substance abuse, like so many other habits that have been integrated into society.

I decided I was going to lay it at Jesus' feet.  And see if He could help me quit.  {of course, He did!}Every time I had an urge, I prayed "Lord, I lay it at Your feet.  Please take it from me."  I had recalled this intriguing, very well-written blog post (I wish I could remember the blog title or blogger's name, so that I could bookmark it) in which she compared our giving up an idol as a sacrifice to Him.  She described how we could set it on fire, just as people had done in the Old Testament, and offer it to God as a sacrifice, and that the aroma would be pleasing to Him.  Craving by craving, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month...The Lord helped me resist each temptation.  I have not taken one drag of a cigarette since before that day.  I was not going to be made a hypocrite.  If it's not good enough for my church's parking lot, it's not good enough for God, and He expects more of me.  I answer to a Higher Authority.  I had been smoking cigarettes, on and off, since I was 15.  I "quit" multiple times, but this time I knew, I was done forever.  Because I cannot take something back that I had given up to God.  He took it from me.  And it is done.    

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
~2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

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