Why does addiction kill some and others recover?
As a man who has battled a horrible addiction to opiates and now, a pastor and director for an addiction recovery program, I have seen both sides of addiction and recovery. I have done funerals for men that were not any crazier, wilder, or riskier then I was. They died from doing the exact same thing I was doing when I lived a life of addiction. So, why did I survive and they didn’t or couldn’t?
I could try and explain these deaths by how some people receive laced drugs (like fentanyl-laced heroin) or have unknown medical issues (like cardiomyopathy) but I don’t feel as though that would explain the whole story. I don’t write these following words flippantly because this is an extremely hard topic for me to discuss. I have images of mother’s faces grimacing with the pain and sorrow that comes from burying their children burned in my mind. It’s not only the internal empathy ravaging my soul, but I have also lost people that I love to addiction, too.
The Question of Recovery
The question, “Why does addiction kill some and others recover?”, is a question that I cannot answer completely, or at least to everyone’s satisfaction. What I can say is that God is Sovereign and we are not promised tomorrow. I know, without a shred of a doubt, based on the authority of God’s word that people can and do recover from addiction.
I have to admit that early on my default position was to shake my fist at God and say why did you not save them? I would even get frustrated and ask God why would you call me to a ministry that is so littered with destruction? This just doesn’t seem right. God revealed to me through His word and other pastors that the feeling I had that, “this is not right”, is exactly what the Bible teaches. God created a perfect place where we could live in perfect unity with Him without the destruction of pain and death, however, something did go way wrong.
As you read the creation/fall account in Genesis 1-3, you see that God’s perfect creation was devastated by sin. That death and destruction entered into the world and a curse came upon the earth. We have all tasted the brokenness of a fallen world. I cannot blame Adam or Eve for this curse as a result of sin because I willingly participated in it.
The hope that I hold onto dearly is that God promises that one day all of this ends for the redeemed. God provides a way out of this darkness and destruction through Jesus. God says in James 1 that He can even use this pain and suffering to bring Him glory. He can use the seasons of trial to cause us to draw closer to Him and persevere.
God promises one day that the presence of sin will be removed for the redeemed. But he also makes promises for us here and now. God says that He will provide rest from the chaos. He promises that we can have true peace and joy when everything going on around us should cause the opposite. He tells us that we do not have to worry or be overwhelmed with anxiety. He promises that His children have victory over death, that death has no sting. Even through the funerals I have officiated for believers, I can rest assured that Jesus conquered death and one day we will all meet again.
I hold steadfast to these promises made by God. They encourage me to faithfully bring the message of hope from the Gospel. God lays out in His word that we can have victory from the yokes of slavery and that includes the chains of addiction. When I read these truths I see that breaking the chains of addiction doesn’t have to be a mundane daily admittance of “I am an addict”. It’s actually the opposite. It is, “I am a bloodstained child of the Kingdom; I am made new and I am not defined by the wickedness of my past; I press on to know the Lord. I don’t claim to be perfect but I don’t look back and I press on toward the goal to which Christ called me.”
If someone you know is struggling with addiction then step in and have these hard conversations. Make it as hard as possible for them to stay in an addictive lifestyle and show them how easy it can be for them to walk into recovery. If you personally are struggling with addiction, please reach out and get help. The S2L Recovery program helps addicts throughout Middle TN and beyond to complete a faith-based recovery program. This drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center can be the catalyst to launch you into the “new creation” that God has called you to. So be bold and act. Press on brother or sister and behold your creator. What you behold is what you will become more like.
Closing Words of the Lord
“ So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (ESV) 2 Corinthians 4:16-1