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posted Mar 24, 2012, 8:25 AM by Susannah Francis   [ updated Mar 24, 2012, 8:25 AM ]

By Zachary T. Francis

This project actually involves three topics: self-harm, suicide, and the drug culture. And the thing we have been trying to explore is, “how do all of these things fit together? How do they connect? What box do all of these categories fit into?” Well...we know that many who self-harm have had thoughts and/or attempted suicide. (Though self-harm is often used to prevent suicide and is not thought of as a suicide attempt.) I have a suspicion, though not confirmed by research, that many who use drugs have also attempted suicide. In turn, we know that drugs and self-harm have at least one other thing in common. And that's addiction.

But when I’ve looked at trying to explore the addiction box that self-harm, suicide, and drugs might fit into, there was an even bigger box that I started seeing. For example, these are four quotes that I have come across in my research.

“I have no control over it”
“That’s all I’ve been thinking about”
“I like to rush it gives me”
“Because I can’t stop”

Drug addicts and cutters right? Wrong! These quotes came from a heroin addict, a cutter, a food addict, and someone addicted to shoplifting. The question nagging me from my research is this: assuming these all could be addictions, could other things such as football, doing puzzles, reading books, watching TV be addictions as well? Confused? I’ll try my best to explain my crazy thought process.

Over and over again in the Old Testament, God tells us not to worship idols. Why? Because we are putting more value in something besides God? Yes. But perhaps idol worship can also be addicting. Let me give you a case in point. A few years ago I loved watching the Pacers. I mean I was a “SUPER FAN”. I couldn’t ever miss a game on TV. Instead of spending time with my wife, I would watch the Pacer’s game. Instead of going to church, I would watch the Pacers. My wife would ask, “Hey Zach, do you want to go over to my dad’s house” and I would respond “Honey it’s game 5 of the playoffs, I will only go if they have the game on.” And do I visit while the game is on? No. I watch the game. One time I was so immersed in a game that I refused to listen to Susi’s brother when he wanted to talk about Jesus. Could that be an addiction? I think so.

Now how is basketball coping? Basketball was an escape. Something to focus on besides life. When I watched a basketball game, I didn’t think about anything else. I didn’t worry about work…if I had to pay the rent….if my marriage was successful. All I focused on was if my team was going to win. I would obsess over it. I would get on the website, follow the stats of all the players, read all positive/negative press. I would even buy DVD’s of previous games so I can relive the experience ALL OVER AGAIN! (My wife LOVED that one!!!) At first, basketball was fun. Like food, sex, drugs or anything else right? Many times we do it because it’s fun. Other times we do it because we feel pain. But in either case, it soon becomes a habit eventually forming into an addiction.

It reminds me of King David, the most powerful king and a man after God’s own heart, and how he sinned. One day King David was in his palace enjoying himself when he looked at and saw

Bathsheba. This woman was beautiful! A knockout! And even though Bathsheba was married, he lusted after her. First mistake. First sin. Then he asks someone to get her. Mistake number 2. And then David sleeps with this married woman. Big mistake number 3. First the eye sees her, then the heart lusts after her, and then he sleeps with her. Oh boy! And this is the man that is after God's own heart! But it gets better! Next...Bathsheba gets pregnant and it will be obvious that David will be the father because Uriah is out at battle. So what does David do? David brings the husband Uriah back from battle and gets him drunk hoping that Uriah will go and sleep with his wife. Why? So people will think the baby is Uriah’s instead of David’s. But Uriah doesn’t sleep with his wife. So what does David do now? He can’t have Uriah around when the baby is born! So next, David sends him back to the front of the army and orders the commander to put "Uriah in the front lines where the fighting is the fiercest. Then pull back and leave him exposed so that he's sure to be killed." So then Uriah is murdered! So let's look at David's story in sequence of sin.
  1. David sees Bathsheba and thinks’ she's hot
  2. David sleeps with Bathsheba
  3. Bathsheba gets pregnant
  4. David get's Uriah drunk to get him to sleep with Bathsheba.
  5. Uriah refuses to see Bathsheba
  6. David has Uriah killed.
So we move from lusting after a woman to murder! Now what in the world does this have to do with addiction? When David lusted after Bathsheba, it led to him sleeping with Bathsheba, which led to killing Uriah. Sin begets sin. David was beginning to be encompassed by darkness. In other words, David was beginning to be addicted to sin. If we love Payton Manning so much that we will miss church, our family, our best friend’s wedding just to see him play, are we not addicted to Payton Manning? Can we not be addicted to negative thoughts? To negative actions? Could we not be addicted to hurting people, to anger, to yelling.....perhaps addiction is not as simple as some have made it out to be?

There is a psychologist I have been reading who says that one of the problems with addiction treatment is that people who stop using their coping drug/habit/etc. actually get meaner. They are WORSE PEOPLE when they are not doing it. How can this be? They stopped using right? But what was the addiction? The addiction was a coping mechanism, something to hide the pain. Basketball for me was an escape. Cutting for some is a way to block negative thoughts, to feel pain. Do any of those things go away when we stop doing the action that is addicting? It can. When I stopped watching basketball, it didn’t take that much effort to deal with my problems. But what about people who use addiction to hide a deeper pain? And if the pain is still there when they stop drinking, cutting, using drugs, etc., does that really solve the problem or do they form another addiction such as food, sex, idolizing football, over exercising, doing puzzles name it. So my question is this, what is an addiction? And after we have defined that, how to we truly heal from it?