one girl's journey to let go of the rulebook and embrace her already abundant life

Making Peace with the Word “Addict” (Sugar Sober Series)

Sober is a hard word, I think, because I know what comes to mind when I consider its opposites.

Drunk. Druggie. Addict.

A shell of a human, devoid of sparkle in the eyes. Someone begging for a fix. Someone unable to make a meaningful contribution to society. Someone who has lost everything. Someone to be pitied.

It may not be a fully accurate definition of addict — and certainly not filled with grace. But it’s a convenient one.

Because it easily lets me excuse myself from the need for sobriety.

Just a diet will do. Healthier choices. More exercise. A good plan and an upsurge of willpower.

But the world is full of people masking their wounds in invisible ways. Functioning addicts, they’re called. People who lead “normal” lives. People of position and beauty and status. People others are even jealous of.

People like me.

For those who substance of abuse is food, the science of its addiction is increasing. Studies show the chemical reaction to our brains from sugar, fat & salt is similar to that of brains on cocaine and heroin. (Great article HERE with more info.)

And when I finally came to terms with the truth that if I used cocaine or heroin in the same way I crave and consume food, that I would likely be one of those folks with sunken eyes, a destroyed marriage, and few job opportunities, I considered that perhaps Addict and Sober WERE appropriate and NECESSARY words for me as well.

Consider this self-assessment from the researchers at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Science & Policy.

  • Do you end up eating more than planned when you start eating certain foods?
  • Do you keep eating certain foods even if you’re no longer hungry?
  • Do you eat to the point of feeling ill?
  • Do you worry about not eating certain types of foods or worry about cutting down on certain types of foods?
  • When certain foods aren’t available, do you go out of your way to obtain them?
  • Do you eat certain foods so often or in such large amounts that you start eating food instead of working, spending time with the family, or doing recreational activities?
  • Do you avoid professional or social situations where certain foods are available because of fear of overeating?
  • When you cut back on certain foods so you experience anxiety, agitation, or other physical symptoms?
  • Does eating food cause problems such as depression, anxiety, self-loathing, or guilt?
  • Do you need to eat more and more food to reduce negative emotions or increase pleasure?

Sobering, isn’t it?

Please, friend, if you find yourself in these questions, know there is HOPE. There IS Sobriety. There is a Savior. If you find yourself suddenly facing the realities of your own addiction, there is GRACE. And I believe God has set me on this journey to help me find some keys that I can both use for myself and drop for you, so we ALL can walk freely from the prison of addiction.

This series started as a 31-Day Blogging Challenge for October 2014, but it’s really the story of my life. And as it continues to unfold, I declare that it shall become my victory. So, too, can it be yours.

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sugarsoberoctoberIn response to the 31 Day blogging challenge, I will be publishing EVERY DAY in October while I stay sugar-free. You can read previous posts HERE. To be alerted to new posts, please follow me on Facebook or Twitter using the links on the right side of this page. Or Subscribe to get posts sent to your Email. Feel free to Tweet your own experiences with #sugarsoberoctober as well.

PLEASE use the comment section to share your own thoughts, questions, or experiences. Like any road, sugar sobriety is one more easily walked with friends. I do my best to reply to every comment.

6 Responses to “Making Peace with the Word “Addict” (Sugar Sober Series)”

  1. Leah says:

    I am grateful for your willingness to be so vulnerable during your 31 days series. I have come across your blog twice now through the FB group and I appreciate your willingness to be so authentic in the midst of your journey. I’m writing about my story, but my perspective is looking back. It takes great strength and courage to write about the story you’re currently living. Thanks for being Beth and for showing me what Hope looks like.

  2. Tara says:

    Such an insightful post. So very true. God is with us in the midst of life etc. Stopping by from the 31 days FB page.

  3. rickd3352013 says:

    I tend to introduce myself by saying “Hi, my name is Rick, and I am an addict.” My clean date is June 19th, 1982. Your choice of terminology is correct – but Overeaters Anonymous and Celebrate Recovery are the only two fellowships I know of that would be comfortable with the usage. Most of us in 12 Step recovery didn’t lose jobs to bagels, or marriages to ice cream; didn’t take the life of an innocent while reaching for a Twinkie behind the wheel – and I say that meaning no disrespect *or* minimization of the issues.

    You nailed it with this: “It may not be a fully accurate definition of addict — and certainly not filled with grace. But it’s a convenient one.” It is neither fully accurate nor filled with grace – but I am thankful for the God of my frequent misunderstanding that extends the grace to those of us who humble ourselves.

    I don’t care for the term functioning addict or functioning alcoholic at all, as by it many people who *know* they are addicted or alcoholic continue to live in denial (no longer just a river in Egypt). We may not be responsible for the fact that we have a diseased way of responding to the world, but we *are* responsible for our recovery once we have that awareness. To continue to try to hide behind “…but I’m a functioning addict!” merely means the consequences haven’t begun to hit home yet, but the lying, and hiding, and every other aspect of the spiritual malady that is addiction will continue to send out roots and dig in a bit deeper. How long before keeping up the appearances to the outside world get to be too much?

    “People who lead “normal” lives. People of position and beauty and status. People others are even jealous of.

    People like me.”

    Social acceptability does not equal recovery. :-)

    Welcome to the process – I’ll save you a seat. :-)

    • Beth Hess says:

      Rick. I am overwhelmed by your response and so completely grateful for the gift of time and grace you extended to me to write it. I find it no coincidence that you used the phrase “send out roots and dig in a bit deeper” because The Spirit has been speaking to me very specifically about how we MUST remove ALL the root, especially the deeply buried part, of my addiction. Your comments remind me of how long this battle will be. Social acceptability and my own desire to call myself “ok enough” will certainly follow me all of my days. But your message also springs with hope. Of possibility. Of others willing to walk with me along the way. Thank you, Rick. So very much!

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