Addiction and the Soul by Melissa Arnold
Recognizing that local problems need local solutions, the Smithville CIA seeks to mobilizing the entire community— youth, parents, teachers, police, reporters, extra-curricular instructors, health care providers, faith communities, business professionals, civic leaders, government representatives, and other Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug providers. We know that strategically aligning not only the “movers and shakers,” but also the “grassroots” folks who have strong links within neighborhoods and informal institutions reduce substance abuse among youth and, over time, among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increase the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.
We have asked some of these community members to tell us why they have become involved in the Smithville Community in Action Coalition and why prevention is important for them. This post, written by Mellissa Arnold, Children's Pastor with Family Worship Center, talks about her desire to help tackle the root cause of addictions in our community.
We lead such busy, and fast paced lives filled with things such as work, family, and social responsibilities. Add to that the constant barrage of social media and the 24 hour news cycle. It’s hard to find a moment to pause and reflect. However, it’s in those pauses and times of reflection that we need to remember that as human beings we are created with a physical body, and a spirit and soul. The reality is, that which affects one affects all the others.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol affect the physical body causing a chemical addiction that literally alters the brain. When the brain is altered the decisions the person makes are altered which in turn continues to adversely affect the body and the person’s relationships all while doing damage to the soul and spirit simultaneously.
Although an addiction is displayed most often in the physical body, the roots that trigger the addiction may stem from the soul or spirit. How this plays out in teens, in regards to underage drinking, may go something like this:
A teen, let’s name her Jaylin, is feeling stress building up because of pressure at school to perform. Jaylin feels, in order to please her parents and teachers, she must perform to a certain level or achieve a certain standard. Jaylin has not learned how to appropriately set expectations for herself and therefore feels pressure to meet everyone else’s perceived expectations as well as her own unrealistic expectations for herself. One night, after a particularly stressful week at school, Jaylin and her friends are hanging out. Someone has the idea that drinking alcohol will help take the edge off……..”because isn’t that what adults do in movies and on TV and aren’t teens practically adults anyways?” Jaylin reasons that it’s no big deal and it’s just this one time to take the edge off, because, after all, she is feeling overwhelmed with the pressure she feels to reach the standard. Jaylin does feel better after releasing some stress and she associates that release of stress as the result of drinking with her friends, rather than laughing and enjoying their company. Jaylin has now established an association in her brain between alcohol and stress relief. Jaylin now finds herself desiring to drink whenever she feels pressure of any kind. What started as a one time event is quickly turning into a habit she can’t seem to break. She starts lying to her parents in order to sneak out and drink. They know something is going on and notice some negative changes in her, but can’t quite figure out what is the cause. Because Jaylin has not dealt with the soul issue underlying the addiction (which in her case are unrealistic expectations), Jaylin finds herself in the cycle of addiction and her new addiction is adversely affecting her relationship with her family. Jaylin feels guilty because of her choices, but the cycle she is in is one she cannot break on her own. The only way out is to bring the addiction to light, but that would damage Jaylin’s perfect image. Naturally, Jaylin is more stressed than ever, because not only does she have the unrealistic expectations of herself and others, but she also has an addiction to cover up on top of it. She begins slipping into a deep depression because she feels isolated and alone and powerless to change her choices. Jaylin wants another drink.
Jaylin was feeling pressure, as most teens do. But instead of learning how to handle the pressure she felt in a positive, healthy way, she made a one time choice that opened a door to addiction.
Jaylin did NOT choose addiction, but out of a desperation to solve the problem in her soul and spirit (In Jaylin’s case unrealistic expectations), she made an unhealthy choice, hoping for a healthy outcome.
Addiction is an issue that affects the entire person: body, soul and spirit. As the religious sector rep, I am concerned with how the addiction causes adverse and unnecessary difficulty in the soul and spirit and want to work to prevent that from happening. My role is to partner with other sector reps to prevent addiction from taking root. Addictions can take many forms ranging from substance abuse to more socially acceptable forms of addictions. All of which are just as damaging to the soul, spirit and body as a substance abuse addiction. I want to partner with my community to address the spiritual
needs behind any addiction to bring healing to the whole person. A whole person is a healthy person.