Contributor: W. Travis Stewart, LPC, NCC writer for Addiction Hope
While addiction is far more complex than this, it is certainly not less; addiction is a commitment of the heart to avoid pain. This reality may apply more to prescription medication addiction than any other addiction – specifically with addiction to prescription pain killers.
Pain is Unavoidable
We don’t like pain. But, as Westley said to Buttercup in the classic movie The Princess Bride, “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” While I may disagree with the Dread Pirate Roberts that life is defined by pain, I won’t argue that you are destined to feel pain, and a lot of it, if you live very long.
Most of our strategies in dealing with life revolve around the motive of mitigating pain. Therapist Marilyn Murray, writes that we “will use whatever natural talents or environmental elements are available to keep [us] from looking inside” at our pain.  Prescription medications are often one of those environmental elements that addicts discover keep them not only from physical pain but emotional pain.
Pain is Part of Life
If life is full of pain, is avoiding it the only option? Psychologists and spiritual leaders for centuries have determined that the avoidance or repression of pain has damaging consequences. The pain may get buried or numbed but it doesn’t seem to go away. The spiritual truth that you can’t avoid pain but, must go through it, is unlikely to find itself printed on a greeting card.
In fact, God promises no deliverance from pain until heaven when there will be no more “mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4). Until then God promises not deliverance from pain but, rather, His presence with us when we are in pain. Isaiah 43:2 reads:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you (emphasis added).
This is God’s promise which we see fulfilled in Jesus. He is called Immanuel which means “God with us.” His presence is so powerful that he merely shows up and healing begins. Our part is in trusting it and seeking it.
How do we trust and seek his presence? In part through learning to be present with pain rather than run to the pleasant numbing of addictive behaviors. This does not feel good, but it is good. When we are most present in our pain we are most open to the presence of God. C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Problem of Pain, writes, “pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Have courage. You can tolerate more pain than you think. You can endure more temptation than you suspect. You might even find God there.
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About the author:
Travis Stewart has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future.
Travis has experience with a wide variety of issues which might lead people to seek out professional counseling help. This includes special interest in helping those with compulsive and addictive behaviors such as internet and screen addiction, eating disorders, anxiety and perfectionism.
Travis graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1991 with a degree in advertising and immediately began working with the international ministry of The Navigators, mentoring students. After 8 years, his desire to better understand how people change, and through his own experience of receiving help from a professional counselor, Travis decided to return to school. He earned a Master of Arts in Counseling (2001) and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (2003), both from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, MO. Travis is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Missouri.
- Murray, Marilyn, The Murray Method, p. 115
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Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 24, 2015. Published on AddictionHope.com