After covering several stories this past year on the opioid crisis, I find myself reflecting more often, and more deeply, upon addiction in general.
Opioids are claiming lives across America at an unprecedented rate, so the subject is highly worthy of our attention. Yet in a 2013 Courier story I wrote, the point was made that addictive tendencies can encompass not only drugs and alcohol, but also such activities as gambling, eating, work, sex, smoking, shopping, collecting, television, sugar, reading, exercise and computer/smartphone usage.
What’s really humbling is that seemingly common, everyday pursuits are on that list ‚Äì meaning that addiction wields the potential to ensnare just about anybody, myself included.
It’s not always easy to gauge when a certain habit has risen to the level of compulsion and, beyond that, addiction. A telltale sign, according to the 2013 story, is that life has become unmanageable — that addiction is adversely affecting one’s work, finances, relationships and/or health.
If you, or somebody close to you, are beset by addiction, you’re aware of the immense difficulty involved in breaking that cycle — mustering the necessary willpower, getting that internal voice saying “no” to drown out the one saying “yes.” Curbing addictive tendencies is hard, hard work. Giving in is much easier.
So, when I meet or hear of folks grappling with opioid addiction — or any other kind of addiction — I can’t just pass quick judgment. Rather, they deserve my prayers and support as somebody who has the capacity for addiction himself.
I pray that Jesus gives us all the same kind of inner strength that he exhibited during those 40 days when Satan was chasing him around in the desert.
For people fighting addiction, their struggles may very well exist 365 days per year.
Latona is a staff writer for the Catholic Courier.