An Allegory From Scripture

NOTE: This does contain some words from the Bible, but no judgement, or fire-and-brimstone, or conversion attempts. I'm in no position to judge or preach to anyone.

Ever. At all. In any way.

This is just a parable that I have found helpful as I seek to understand—and hopefully escape—addiction. If the Bible is uncomfortable for you feel free to skip this one.

I found this in Matthew Chapter 12 :

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

Relapses are Worse

If you replace “unclean spirit” with “the urge to use” this is too real. It feels like every time I've pushed that urge away it's come back, seven times worse.

And I think the middle part is the key. The “unclean spirit” leaves, and everything sucks out there. I've written about how addiction has made it so the world outside of using is gray and lifeless for a while. So when the “unclean spirit” returns, it sees my mind, which I've been trying to clean up (“swept and garnished”) but empty. So it moves right back in. And brings seven terrible friends. “And the last state of that man is worse than the first”.

Ouch. I've felt this too many times.

Don't Leave the House Empty!

Here's what I've been trying to do this time. Instead of leaving a gaping hole in my habits where addiction used to be, I'm trying to fill that time up with beneficial stuff. This means more time outdoors (which I used to hate), more time talking to people (which is hard because I'm unsurprisingly introverted), more time doing stuff instead of just sitting around letting stuff happen. Being bored is a good way to find yourself in a situation where you're like. “Welp. Might as well use!” and relapsing.

To use the scriptural metaphor, I'm trying to sweep and garnish the house, then fill it up with good things, instead of leaving it empty for addiction to move back in.

Furthermore, it's kinda helpful to anthropomorphize addiction as an unclean spirit, a cartoon demon trying to sneak back in. “Not today, pal!” I can say to him when I feel him at the door with his seven friends. “This house is full!”

I really hope I can keep this up. I'm both hopeful that I'll finally be free and terrified that I'll let addiction back in.