When Doctrine Becomes Idolatry

I’m a drug addict. Specifically, a recovering drug addict. More specific, a grateful recovering drug addict. And as I sit here now, clear-headed, I can reflect on what it was like just before drug use pushed me over the edge of sanity and I hit bottom. I remember that my preferred daily cocktail of chemicals was cannabis, hallucinogens, and prescription narcotics. Then, thank God, they threw me into a ditch of hopelessness that I couldn't crawl out of, and I knew it. I’d used up all my tomorrows. No more free day passes. I was awoken to the fact that I hadn’t been using drugs, drugs had been using me, and they’d used me up.

The revelation that I was powerless over my addiction, that my life had become unmanageable, drove me, eventually, to get clean. I found a twelve step meeting. I relapsed several times. In the in-between times though, I didn’t recognize that I was using my “drug problem” to hide my “reality problem.” Even though I attended meetings, listened to other addicts tell their story, and shared my personal tales of insanity, I still, all too often, transferred my addiction onto other stuff I imagined could give me relief. One example was when I threw myself into cycling. Four hours a day on a bike. Six hours a day on weekends, until my wife demanded I choose between her and our son or go semi-pro to make a living racing. And that’s the way it went for years. Until I dedicated myself to working a program of recovery I flitted from one new addiction-feeding distraction to another. Not surprising, the result was still the same. Self-destructive tendencies. Relationships neglected. Responsibilities put off, self-justifications, self-preservation at all costs, everything custom designed to escape having to deal with reality as it is, not as I would have it be.