My healing of substance abuse

No longer a puppet on a string

The Herald of Christian Science

I HAD BEEN SMOKING on and off since the eighth grade. During my last year of high school, I started drinking excessively. And, shortly after graduation, I started using marijuana and experimenting with hallucinogens.

I'd attended a Christian Science Sunday School while growing up, and I remember I would sometimes go there Sunday mornings after partying the night before. I thought that what I was doing wasn't a big deal, because God loved me no matter what. But what I didn't realize was that, by living this lifestyle, I would cause myself great pain and not live up to my full potential. What I was doing was hindering my growth.

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At 18, I moved away from home and left religion behind completely. When I was 19, I hit a point in my life where I felt very unhappy and empty. I had just gotten out of a bad relationship with my boyfriend, and I felt bitter towards my parents. It was during this time that I realized I needed God. I didn't know who I was, what I believed in, or what I wanted. I craved some sort of foundation in my life. What it boiled down to was, as Aaron Tippin sings in "You've Got to Stand for Something," "You've got to be your own man [or, in this case, woman!], not a puppet on a string."

Since I was familiar with Christian Science from Sunday School, I decided to go to the mall one day and buy Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. As I read this book, I began to learn about God and what my relationship is to Her, as Her child. It was amazing to me.

As I contemplated what I was learning, and related the ideas to my daily life, things naturally started taking a positive turn. I didn't want to be "a puppet on a string" anymore, controlled by addictions. I wanted to be responsible and solve my problems, instead of putting them off and trying to escape through alcohol. I wanted to have control of my thinking. And, the more I got to know God, the more I realized I couldn't serve two masters. If I loved God, I would have to let these things go.

But I had already tried to quit smoking both cigarettes and marijuana through sheer will-power, and could never do it. Alcohol was something I enjoyed and didn't think I would ever let go of. So what could I do?

Well, one thing that really helped me a lot was something on page 468 of Science and Health. "Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay. Truth, Life, and Love are substance." It goes on a few sentences later to say: "Spirit, the synonym of Mind, Soul, or God, is the only real substance. The spiritual universe, including individual man, is a compound idea, reflecting the divine substance of Spirit."

This news was very liberating to me. I realized that my true substance, my identity, was actually spiritual. So I didn't need to go to a cigarette to relieve stress, for example. I could turn to God for help, guidance, and joy. This sounded a lot better to me than waking up the morning after a party and not remembering everything I did, or being ashamed of what I remembered doing.

I realized I needed God. I craved some sort of foundation in my life.

As I prayed about these ideas, I found myself letting go of drugs and alcohol and being free of the addictions. And I was so happy! I felt like a totally new person. During this time, other habits that I didn't specifically pray about naturally stopped, too—like shoplifting. I became more focused, and eventually went back to college. Also, the deep hurt and bitterness I had felt toward my parents gave way to understanding and love. In hindsight I see that I had really been indulging in was a wrong view of myself as unloved, hurt, lacking. When my thought changed about myself, and I learned to see myself the way God saw me, the addictions ceased. This was evidence to me that there was a God and that I needed to live my life from this new perspective.

Now, four years later, I'm still free of these addictions, and I graduated from college this June. Most important, I've continued to learn more about my relationship with my Father-Mother God.

Reprinted from
The Herald of Christian Science

June 25, 2001

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