Do I Have a Problem with Drugs or Alcohol?
For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. Acts 2:15
I can clearly remember when I began to realize that I had a problem with pills. Up to that point, I wasn’t addicted. I was simply a physician, taking medicine. As I developed a tolerance (needing more to get the same effect) and withdrawal (feeling miserable when I couldn’t take pills), I began to think that maybe I had an addiction. As I reflected over the previous year, realizing that not a week had gone by when I wasn’t using, I had to admit that drugs had become an integral part of my life.
It took a while for me to admit my problem because the truth hurt. This is a universal phenomenon. Those who have an addiction are profoundly slow to admit it. So, how does one know if he or she has a problem?
In today’s passage, Peter mentions a common symptom of problem drinking. When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, some of those who witnessed the event thought they were drunk. Peter defended the disciples. These people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day (9AM). Even back then, drinking in the morning wasn’t normal behavior. If you drink or use, simply to start the day, you have a problem.
What are other symptoms of an addiction? If you’re wondering, ask yourself these questions. Do you have cravings when you try to cut back? Are you unable to cut down? Do you make promises and then fail? Do you have withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit? A sure sign of dependency is repeatedly trying and failing to abstain, due to cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Do those around you think you have a problem? Have you continued to use despite painful consequences and despite your loved one’s insistence that you quit? Are you hiding bottles or using alone? If you don’t want to address what your family thinks, you almost assuredly have an addiction.
Has your consumption accelerated as you need more to get the same effect you once did? Has three beers a night turned into ten? Have you been skipping work, school, or family functions due to your use? Do you feel guilty about this? Continuing to use despite the negative impact is a sure sign that chemicals are running your life.
Simply acknowledging our problem doesn’t make it go away, but we cannot begin to deal with our addictions until we accept their existence. This requires painful honesty, but the cost of refusing to deal with an addiction is of course, far more painful in the end. If we want to change, we must admit our struggle and be brave enough to do whatever it takes to address it.