Don't You Have a Problem?

In the 6 months after I pled guilty, but before I was sentenced, I was repeatedly asked, "Don't you have a drug or alcohol problem?" "Are you SURE you don't have a drug or alcohol problem? If so, you can probably get a year off your sentence." These were valid questions, though, because it's true. I could have received a sentence reduction by participating in a Residential Drug and Alcohol Program, code named RDAP, offered by the Bureau of Prisons. While getting a year off my sentence sounded like wonderful idea, I wasn't a fit for RDAP. I repeatedly explained that I had many other addictions and compulsive behaviors that were equally as worthy as drugs or alcohol. Where are the programs for pride, perfectionism, fear, lust? What's wrong with these? With the BOP, unfortunately, only drugs and alcohol count as addictions.

So what is addiction? If I may, I define it as an overwhelming urge to live (think, speak, act) in an unhealthy way that is contrary to my best interests, but over which I am powerless to control. That sounds a lot like Romans 7:17, where the Apostle Paul writes, "I want to do what is good, but I can't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway." Paul was describing sin, and addiction sounds a lot like sin to me. It also sounds like what Adam and Eve encountered with the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Addictions impact us in many ways, but primarily in one way. In the story of Adam and Eve, what they felt, after eating the forbidden fruit then encountering God, though, was not exactly condemnation. It was shame. Their reaction was to hide, then lie, realizing for the first time that they were naked. But God's response was to provide them clothes. Naturally, the clothes didn't take away the consequences, but it did help cover their shame. Shame is at the heart of all addictions. It can incubate and feed it and is always its byproduct. So to treat addiction, we have to heal the shame.

One of the few American contributions to organized spirituality is the 12 Step movement started in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith called Alcoholics Anonymous. In 2017, I want to write about 12 Step Spirituality, which is the transformative message that all religions preach and teach...on their good days.

It's a message that can never be revisited too often. If you have some hurts, habits or hang-ups, maybe we can learn together in this Happy New Year.