I was 15 when I first started drinking. I had left the church of my childhood and had a generally agnostic view of God or anything spiritual. Those first drinks were only a prerequisite to the drug and alcohol abuser I would become over five, 10, and 20 years.
I grew up believing I could do anything. But you probably know how it is: Something happens that doesn’t fit your idea of a perfect life, and depression sets in. Drugs and alcohol were the companions to turn my not-so-perfect life into an induced stupor. And of course, they also added to my problems.
I became so addicted to my drug of choice that I decided to move to a different city to get away from the people, places, and things I thought lit my desire for the drugs. But life only went from bad to worse because I hadn’t learned to change myself.
Nearing the end of a year I met a person who befriended me and welcomed me into his circle of friends. I began to learn that my way of thinking was affecting my life. I had to learn to believe in myself again. I decided to move back to my hometown, and my new friend suggested I find a local Unity church.
I was convinced I could stay off drugs and alcohol, and although I didn’t go back to the same people, places, and things, I found myself living in an apartment complex filled with the same types of people. My drug addiction took a turn for the worse. I now had a new drug of choice, thanks to my new friends, and the addiction was unbearable. Several years went by as I was simultaneously attending Unity church on Sunday mornings and doing drugs any other day of the week.
The Need to Escape
My new church taught me that I create my life through my way of thinking and believing. I began to hope I could overcome my drug addiction, but then I would use again. Oh, I held down a full-time job, but once I was off work, the negative thinking about my life and the need to escape it would overcome any previously held belief that I could heal on my own. I would lie in bed at night and beg God to heal me, and if not heal me, then to take me out of my misery by allowing me to die. I wasn’t suicidal; I just wanted it all to end.
My new church also taught me that the kingdom of God is within me. I learned to listen and act on the still, small voice I heard when I wasn’t using. During the two years I prayed for God to heal me or kill me, I began to receive an answer, but it required action from me—action I wasn’t ready or willing to take.
“If you want to be healed, you must leave your husband,” I heard over and over again. But I loved him; I didn’t want to leave. How would I survive in the world without him?
“Get an education,” the still, small voice answered. After some musing, I began classes at the local community college.
College gave me confidence I had never had before. I became bolder and proud of what I was doing. One day my husband was annoyed and said, “You think you are somebody.” Well, I not only thought it, I knew it. But the comment burned into my heart that he didn’t think so.
Taking a Leap of Faith
The next morning I finally said, “I hear you, God, and I’m leaving. I don’t know where I’m going or what I’ll do, but I will follow if you will lead me.”
That was the last time I used my drug of choice, but the healing would take five more years when I finally found a 12-step group and surrounded myself with people who were clean and sober.
I stumbled and fell a few times as I learned how to trust the divinity of God’s guidance. “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:2).
Not everywhere I went or everything I did turned out the way I wanted, but I can see how even those events were a part of a greater scheme. I now have a master’s degree and follow the divinity of my inner guidance every chance I get.
This article first appeared in the Unity booklet The Spiritual Journey from Addiction to Recovery. All the authors chose to remain anonymous in keeping with the tradition of 12-step groups.