“Anybody can do nothing. Anybody can do and be nothing. Do you want to be nothing?”
I recently watch a viral video of a judge, passionately asking a group of teenagers who appear to be in some sort of alternative program – to rethink the way that they’re living their lives. Judge Verda Colvin shows the youth a body bag, explaining that the people who wind up in bags are the ones who thought nothing of their lives. Her plea gave me the chills. If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it here: Judge’s Epic Speech. Although this video was directed at troubled youth – it applies to all of us. When we don’t care about our lives – we do nothing and are nothing. We drop the ball for ourselves and for society, and don’t give ourselves and others the things that we were born to do.
Addiction Takes Away Purpose.
In active addiction, all the things that were once important to us fall to the wayside. Even if you once had a clear-cut plan, a great career, a beautiful family, a passion for travel or big ambitions, addiction will turn your head and heart in the opposite direction. Addiction leads us the a place where we’re merely surviving, relying purely on compulsive reaction and instinct – rather than actually living life. Our focuses center around getting our drug of choice, getting drunk or high, and strategizing a way to get the next high. Along the way, we lose sight of our family, our friends, our jobs, our homes, our ambitions, our passions everything that makes life worth living: Our purpose. Addiction takes away our purpose in life.
Addiction Takes Away Choice.
In active addiction, we become obsessed with using drugs or drinking. We chase the high and the drugs that cause the high compulsively – far beyond any control. No matter how much we may want to choose love, family, friends, jobs or our health – we simply can’t. After all, who would ever choose to be completely reliant on a pill or a powder – rather than embrace the love of our children or spouses or family? The disease of addiction takes away that choice. Alcoholism and drug addiction take away our ability to choose because everything is focused on the drug or the drink. We have no choice, but instead are left only with a reflexive, automatic need for the substance. Our brain chemistry and functions rob us of control and take away the choice.
Addiction Takes Away Growth.
We typically think of the life of addiction as chaotic and uncertain. However, the reality is that addiction is the same thing over and over again: Get the substance, use the substance and get intoxicated, sober up, plan to get the substance again, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Addiction is very predictable. In active addiction, our ability to grow and evolve diminishes. We become robotic in our actions, and our not our true selves.
Addiction Takes Away Relationships.
This loss is one of the most painfully obvious. As human beings, we all desire connection and love. However, some of the biggest symptoms of addiction are lying, cheating, and manipulating. We are no longer able to be ourselves: Our personalities change, our interests change, our compassion and emotions change. Because of these changes, the people who we love and love us often distance themselves from us. Relationships crumble, break and disintegrate. In active addiction, we are unable to connect to anything beyond our own selves and our needs for the drug or the drink. Our vision becomes tunneled and shuts out those whom we love. Drug and alcohol addiction take away all of our real relationships and connections – and leave us lonely. Addiction Takes Away Surprise, Wonder and Awe. The everyday things in life that bring us joy and delight: watching a sunset, holding our partner’s hand, a warm spring day, an afternoon at the beach, holding a newborn baby, a starry sky – those are the things that can make life truly enjoyable and worth living. These things happen when we take the time to recognize them and embrace them. They are moments that allow us to feel connected to more than just a drug or a drink – but instead, to ourselves, to our loved ones, to nature, or for some – to a higher power. When we’re actively addicted, all of the little things that add up in our lives to be big, beautiful things – suddenly vanish.
Addiction Takes Away Everything That Makes Life Worth Living.
When you take away all of the things above: purpose, choice, relationships, growth, surprise, wonder and awe, there is very little left to give us a sense of meaning in this world.
Everyone is born for something. Everyone is born with talents, skills, and an ability to love. When we become addicted to a substance, we’re eventually left with nothing. As Judge Verda Colvin says, “You are special and uniquely made. Nobody else in this world can do what you’re supposed to do… And if you don’t do it, we won’t have it.” You can have these things. You can be something. And it starts with recovering from addiction.