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Steps toward freedom from addiction

From the February 24, 2003 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

These days, there's a great deal of thought and media attention given to addiction. There's frequent talk about alcoholism and tobacco heard on the airwaves.

And then there's the coverage of illegal drugs. Night after night on the local news, there's usually at least one story about how drug addiction led to violence and contributed to an underground economy that damaged neighborhoods and families.

New prescription drugs are continually being introduced to the public. The evening news is often the forum for showcasing them. But there's usually a catch. That new allergy medication may help alleviate sinus pressure; however, it may also have side effects—and it may be habit forming.

But there are other, less visible, forms of addiction, at least as pervasive in the realm of daily life, that are perhaps as detrimental to individual well-being as those mentioned above. Take the addiction to food. The comfort derived from thinking, "Thank goodness, I don't smoke or drink or do drugs," can be of rather small significance if one is a compulsive overeater. And this tendency to overeat can be especially difficult for certain individuals. Fast foods are increasingly vilified as addictive and harmful to children in particular.

And what about workaholism? If our idea of the ideal work week runs 24/7, with little time out for recharging spiritual and mental batteries, and reacquainting ourselves with the people we love most, then we probably need to reconsider our priorities. The Bible tells us that even God rested on the "seventh day."

If one looks beyond the causes often said to contribute to addiction—such as chemical imbalance, psychological impairment, heredity—the one common element of addiction is a lack of fulfillment or satisfaction. People tend to feed this hunger from without, rather than addressing the problem from within.

Regardless of the perceived causes of addiction, though, there is one mainstay that offers a true and complete source of inner fulfillment. And that is the all-powerful and all-loving God. Divinity alone provides the basis for a spiritually fulfilled and deeply satisfying life experience.

God is not merely a substitute for what you feel you're lacking—He is the true, the only, source of real satisfaction. God's creation is complete, now and forever. And because each of us is the son and daughter of God, we are never anything less than like Him—complete, fulfilled, satisfied. In God's creation there can be no lack, craving, or imbalance.

Regardless of the perceived causes of addiction, there is one mainstay that offers a true and complete source of inner fulfillment.

Knowing this is a spiritual approach to finding freedom from addiction. This practical approach is available now, through prayer, to each of us, as the most potent way to combat addiction.

The founder of the Sentinel, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote a poem called "Satisfied" (see Poems, p. 79). The poem says that those who do the will of God, those who live their lives as God's own "likeness," to use the Bible's language, experience the ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment. For them, dependency is on God, not on matter in any form. They long for no other fulfillment. And they need nothing else.

If you, or someone close to you, are struggling with some form of addiction, you can go to God, not just for coping, but for healing. Ask God to help you see yourself as His likeness. By even beginning to do this one thing, you are taking a life-changing first step on the road to finding true freedom.

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