As a fresh graduate from the University, I was posted to Edo state (former Bendel State) in Nigeria for the mandatory National Youth Service for all university graduates in Nigeria. I had a house mate that smoked cigarettes. Her name was Ayisha (not her real name). I used to admire the way she held the stick and dropped the ash in the beautiful ash tray on a table in her room. She smoked a brand called St Morris (I’m not so sure of the name now), but it was tiny and long and very sleek. I was fascinated by the sight of the stick between her beautiful manicured fingers and often imagined that the taste of the cigarette must be sweet and heavenly as I watched her closed her eyes in what I assumed was a sweet heavenly experience. occasionally she would rub her head as she stylistically released the smoke through her mouth or sometimes from her nostrils.
Ayisha and i spent a lot of time together. She was very intelligent and I loved listening to her. Unconsciously I began to long and yearn secretly for a smoke of cigarette. I was not bold enough to ask her for one probably because I was that timid, naive and unexposed little girl from the University. However, I decided to buy a pack of the same brand and I kept it hidden in my closet. For days I just admired it, not confident to try. I would bring out a stick and just hold it in between my fingers. At times, I would put it in my mouth and pretended to smoke. Well, It wasn’t long afterwards that I was bold enough to try one.
So on this dark and lonely night (terrible things always happen at night), I locked myself in the room and tried it. I had ensured the door was locked and it was night time anyway. After a few attempts, i successfully lighted the cigarette and had my first puff at it.
It was tasteless, dry, and I choked. I coughed and coughed and soon realised the only beauty in it was just my imagination. My expectation went immediately from 100% to zero. My tongue burned and went numb. Food became tasteless thereafter. I told myself “ this thing does not only destroy, it’s tasteless and was not worth my expectation. I was disappointed. I love sweet things and I concluded I could never be a smoker.
In spite of my experience, I still watched and admired Ayisha smoke her St. Morris. I was awed by the artistic picture created by the sight of her lovely fingers around the stick and how she neatly shook the ash into the gold plated ash tray. One day I summoned courage and asked her why she smoked so much and what exactly did she enjoy about it.
I was shocked by her reply. “ this “ she said pointing at the cigarettes pack in her hand “is my albatross”. “ It’s killing me but I cannot stop it” She went into a long story of how she picked up the habit while in secondary school just to belong to her friend’s social class and how she had become addicted. She desired to stop it but she had not been able to. Listening to her, humbled me. Here was I full of envy, while she was actually struggling with an addiction that she hated. Well in my heart, I thanked God that I liked sweet things.
“Do you know you can stop it, if your desire is strong enough?” I asked her. I explained that I have had terrible habits that I battled with too and the truth is everyone have or had habits that must be dealt with at one time or the other. However with all habits and addictions, there are always solutions. Never ever settle with the voice that calls your addiction an albatross. You don’t have to die with it. It can be stopped
Addictions may not have to be a vice like smoking, sex, masturbation, or even drugs. It could simply be an insatiable desire for chocolates, ( I suffered here), Soft drinks, burgers, fries. Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. In other words, any thing done in excess and that seemed to have control over a person wether positive or negative can become an addiction and must be dealt with furiously. Some addictions also involve an inability to stop partaking in activities, such as gambling, eating, or working. In these circumstances, a person has a behavioural addiction At times we call it habit and then gradually it grows into an addiction. The line between habits and addictions is so thin that I would prefer both are treated the same way. Some addictions may have spiritual undertone and must be handled as such. However, there are basic things that we must know in dealing with addiction.
All habits and addictions can be stopped. The first step in dealing with the situation is to know and understand that all habits and addictions can be stopped. Do not agree with the lie of the devil that you cannot stop a particular addiction. Sometimes, you may need extra help medically or spiritually but be assured that, that habit or addiction was not meant to kill you.
Engage your mind: I love the Bible scripture that says “But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.” Philemon 1:14 KJV. God gave to every man a mind and He would not force us to do anything. Your mind is strong to help you take a stand on that habit. It must start as a decision. The problem is often time we struggle with an addiction and hoped a miracle would just make it disappear. It has to start from your mind.
Take a decision: Decide you want to stop and mean it. Be intentional about your decision. Be definite and decisive. Deal with it as an opposition that was sent to destroy you. Be violent if you must. By all means hate your addiction so much that it will get so scared and part ways with you. Don’t play around liquor if you have a drinking problem.
Take Definite Steps. Having taken a decision, you must draw out an escape plan for yourself. Remember my experiment, I went to the shop, bought the cigarettes, locked my door, lighted and inhaled. You have to start by reversing the order in which you started the habit. It might not be as straight forward but it always follow the same patten. For some its little by little. Do not worry if you fail the first time. Just ensure you never give up trying. You can fall or fail several times but be determined to quit. Even the righteous fall seven times and yet God keeps helping him to rise again.
Stop going to the place of your order. If you are struggling with alcohol for instance, you have to stop going to the bar. Stop going to places where your addictions are fed. I remember the story of one of my colleague who was addicted to cigarette smoking years ago. He had traveled to a place where cigarette was not allowed so he smoked in his room. When he ran out of stock and needed to buy, he discovered there was no shop in the community where he could get. In his words, (he said) he trekked several miles without coming across a cigarette store. He returned to the apartment weak, tired and wasted. That day, he took a decision and vowed never to smoke again. That marked the end of that addiction.
Change your company: If your friends are the influence, then change company. Friendship is a choice. You cannot remain in the company of addicts and expect to be free from the addiction. A man’s life is affected by the books he read and the friends and company he keeps. Stay away from friends that help feed your addiction.
Search and discover new interests like exercising, sports. Feed your appetites with healthy things and positive thoughts. For example you can replace alcohol with water mixed with some lemon, spend time at the gym, join a unit in your local church give yourself to community service, learn a skill or go back to school. Pursue a vision with the same zeal with which you fed your addiction.
Love and forgive yourself. Loving yourself is a big key in removing the chains of addiction. Grow to love yourself by constantly communicating with yourself. Feed yourself with positive thoughts, No one can complete you. Take control of your body and your mind. Refuse to give in to condemnation, depression or suicidal thoughts. You are in charge; you have finally unlocked the chains. You are free.
Seek medical help. there are some addictions that have done some physical damage to the health of their victims that may require medication. Don’t be ashamed to request for medical help if required. You may need to see a therapist, or join a relationship support group. This will help deal with the challenges associated with withdrawal. But note that medical help can not replace the other options listed above. It only come as a support. Your decision is your first way to recovery.
Get Spiritual Help. I have a very clear understanding that a man is a spirit being. He has a body, and a soul. In other word a man is a spirit that lives in a body and has a soul. your soul is your mind. It gets educated by the books you read, schools you go, the places you visit. Your soul helps you take some rational decisions. Your body is just a house that keeps your soul and spirit. Your body is what is first damaged by your addiction and may be destroyed if the addiction continues. When that happens, the body dies, the soul is destroyed and the man’s spirit returns to God. So to remain here on earth, you must take care of the body that houses the real you.
Spiritual help is the fastest way to get free from any form of addiction. However like the medical solution, it also requires you to take a firm decision to be free. Without a decision, even God cannot help you. So after your decision, you have to return to God in your helpless state by surrendering your life to Him. I present the steps below as a way of escape.
- Recognise your helplessness and inability to free yourself. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past” (Rom 3:23-25NLT)
- Accept God’s love. “For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. (John 3:16 AMPC)
- Accept God’s provision for your liberty: The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). (John 10:10)
- Surrender in a simple prayer in faith: Pray “Jesus Christ, I am sorry for the things I have done wrong in my life. Thank you for dying on the Cross for me, set me free from all my sins and forgive me today. Please come into my life and fill me with your Holy Spirit. Be with me forever. Thank you Jesus!”
The above is only the beginning of your freedom. Now that you have accepted the Lord and handed over your life to Him you must take steps to grow in Him so that the addiction and every demonic bounds over your life are gone forever. Study the bible on a regular basis, fellowship in a full bible church, spend time praying and if possible fast to subject your body to your full control. Any man who has a capacity to fast can control his appetite. So fasting will help discipline your body.
The same way there are medication to help, there are also unbeatable spiritual tools for anyone who requires and submit to the spiritual solution. They are called the weapons of our warfare. Remember, quitting addiction is a warfare. These weapons are powerful when applied in faith; “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4). Addiction is a strong hold that must be pulled down. You can use the following weapons ; the name of Jesus, the Blood of Jesus, the Holy Communion, the anointing oil, blood of sprinkling, Angelic help, the Word of God, praise and worship, prayers and many more. The more you study God’s word, the more your faith rises and the more you win.
Finally, be assured that while all addictions are destructive, all can be overcome by you when you trust God and take practical steps to deal with them. Refuse to justify your addictions by denying its existence, rationalising it or comparing with others. Take a firm decision today and kill that addiction before it cut short your life. Remember, even God can do nothing without your mind. Quitting addiction is your responsibility take it, pursue it, take one step after the other, little by little you shall be free and free indeed.
Adenike Babajamu (January 2021)