I am not a big fan of alcohol; I never have been, & probably never will be.
With the way that my brain is wired, I think it would be hard for me to drink regularly and not form some kind of dependency on it.
Alcoholism and addiction both run in my family, so I have been extra cautious to guard myself against anything that would put me down that path.
I’ve seen it put strain on relationships, ruin careers, and destroy bodies, minds, and souls.
I don’t think alcohol is evil or from the devil, I just know that it has no place in my life.
I went to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico for my honeymoon in May.
Free room service.
Free aroma therapy.
And of course, free alcohol.
The drinking age in Mexico is 18, so drinking is approached pretty casually in Cancun. I got a few soft smiles & weird looks when I ordered the virgin strawberry daiquiri with a banana mixed in it…a.k.a. a strawberry banana smoothie.
One day, I decided to order a drink.
A real drink.
A drink with (gasp) alcohol in it.
I pressed my lips against a chilled glass & began to drink the alcohol that I have grown to be so bitter towards.
The drink was fruity, chilled, & not too strong.
I could have gone about my day with or without it & could have been completely at peace.
The alcohol didn’t do anything to me, however, I know that for many people, alcohol is so much more than alcohol.
For the woman struggling with depression, it is comfort.
For the hard-working business man, it is relief & relaxation.
For the one whose heart feels empty, it is love.
For the discontent, it is satisfaction.
For the weary, it is a break from reality.
For the anxious, it is peace.
For the individual with an eating disorder, it is a way to numb yourself to reality.
Yesterday, I came to the realization that alcohol isn’t the problem. Truly. I hate to admit that because I have spent so many years building up resentment towards what I would refer to as “liquid poison.” The first miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine. Alcohol isn’t bad in itself. I know that. I don’t hate alcohol…
What I do hate is Satan himself & his tactics related to the things of this world.
His biggest desire is for us to crave anything & everything more than we crave God.
And what I truly hate, is how easy it is to fall into sin & exchange the truth & glory of God for a lie.²
Some substances are more addicting by nature.
Some are more socially acceptable than others.
Some had be easily hidden, while others cannot be missed.
Whether it be alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex, gambling, screen-time, porn, or anything in between, addiction causes two things to happen:
- Addiction impairs our relationships with God & other people.
- Addiction holds us in bondage to the thing that we cannot seem to live without.
There is no freedom in addiction.
My experience with anorexia has given me a small glimpse into the life of an addict.
My eating disorder was my “drug of choice”, if you will.
Anorexia was my comfort, relaxation, peace, love, & satisfaction, However, it was also a major source of anxiety, depression, low-self esteem, & overall discontentment.
The eating disorder (ED) promised me that it would do for me what I couldn’t do for myself, & as I mentioned above, it did work for a temporary amount of time.
Excessive exercise gave me a way to clear my mind and relieve stress.
Skipping meals was a good way to ease my anxiety.
Eating only clean, organic food gave me a false sense of control.
Binging was an easy way to numb myself to a wide variety of emotions: sadness, stress, boredom, anxiety, & everything in between.
My eating disorder crippled me because I depended on it each day to survive.
It isolated me from my friends & family.
It distanced me from God.
It held me captive in a cycle that I couldn’t seem to break.
I became very irritable & emotionally distraught if I couldn’t workout one day for some reason.
I became anxious & concerned if I didn’t know that would be offered on the menu at a local restaurant.
I became overly emotional & sensitive if I was’t able to use my disordered eating patterns or exercise to cope.
My body literally started going through withdrawal symptoms if I couldn’t exercise or establish my usual daily routine.
My concentration flew out the window.
My body began to reject normal amounts of food & sent early signals to my brain when I had eaten the amount it was used to.
My digestive system was completely out of wack & it was very painful to work back up to eating a normal amount of food.
This was my addiction.
Although I do not fully support the belief of a food addiction (because we all need food to survive), I do believe that people can become addicted to behaviors surrounding dieting, food, & mealtime. I have experienced the consequences and neurological changes associated with chronic dieting, and I can see how some people make the connection between eating disorders & addiction.
Furthermore, nearly 50% of individuals who are diagnosed with eating disorders also struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.
I can’t say I know what it feels like to be addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, or heroine. I haven’t had to walk that journey. What I can say, is that I am thankful that God used my recovery to grow my heart in compassion and understanding for those who also need help.
Addictions don’t make sense, & neither do eating disorders.
The person with the addiction (or an eating disorder, as in my case), is doing the best that he or she knows to do in the situation that they are in. They don’t know how to cope with their emotions in a healthy way, & the only thing that seems to get them through the day is their addiction, which perpetuates the illness. The illness then begins to act in place of the person’s true identity, & begins to take over every aspect of life.
Addicts know what they need to do to get better, but the idea of taking the first few steps is absolutely terrifying.
For example, I knew that skipping breakfast, going on a long run, & snacking on a chewy granola bar wasn’t going to cut it when it came to my health. I knew that it was bad for me, but I didn’t know what else to do.
I believed the lie that God wasn’t good enough to help me sort everything out, so instead of waiting on him, I put matters into my own hands.
The alcoholic knows that heading out to the bar after a recent relapse isn’t the right thing to do, yet is it the only way that they are able to process the emotions of guilt and shame.
One thing to note is that addiction takes over the soul of a person.
People choose to engage in the addicting behavior, but most don’t go into it thinking that they will actually become addicted. By the time they realize it, it is often too late.
In recovery I have learned that there is healing power in choosing to hate the addiction rather than the addict.
I am confident that my friends and family are able to look back and identify situations in which my eating disorder had taken over my heart, mind, & soul.
Refusing to add butter to my baked potato? Working out twice a day? Waiting too long to eat between meals? Demanding what I wanted for dinner, how it needed to be cooked, & at what time we ate? Refusing to attend social events?
My eating disorder, my addiction.
Adding butter to my waffles to add flavor? Workout out when I feel like it, not when I feel like I have to? Eating 3 meals a day + snacks? Asking others what they want for dinner & when they would like to eat?
My “healthy-self”, as some in the eating disorder community would say.
In a spiritual sense, I would compare my eating disorder to a life dictated by the flesh, & my life without my eating disorder is one dictated by the spirit of truth.
Treatment, rehab, & recovery are so often plagued with relapse & slip-ups before full sobriety because it takes a while for a healthy coping mechanism to feel better than an addictive behavior.
I wouldn’t recommend doing it alone, but I would recommend seeking help.
Choosing to separate from an addiction is one of the most painful things in this world, but it is one of the strongest, bravest & most selfless things that a person can to.
Whether you or a loved one struggles with an eating disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, or any other sort of addiction, there is hope.
- National Eating Disorder Association
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism