Addiction is one of Satan's greatest tools. So often actions, choices, and substances seem harmless to indulge in just once, or at least that is how Satan wishes us to perceive it. Addiction can begin on the first action, the first choice, the first use.
Addiction is versatile too. People can become addicted to sex, pornography, drugs, self-harming, masturbation, stealing, adrenaline, swearing, food, the list goes on and on. Addiction is one of the greatest vices used by Satan.
Addiction overrides the very nature of the brain. What to some may seem unnecessary, foolish, undesirable, even revolting or wrong can become to an addict the very air they breathe. Now that may be a little extreme, but to a degree, it is true. Our brain has natural signals it sends out to the body to keep us alive. The brain lets us know when we need food. The brain alerts us if we need more fluids. The brain controls our survival instincts, and this is what addictions hack. To an addict, porn can become just as important as food. Drugs can be at the same level of necessity as water. Any addiction can override the brains normal functions and send one into a seemingly endless cycle of indulging in the addictive behavior, which, to the now changed brain, seems necessary for survival and well being.
I have had my fair share of addictions in my life. Porn, masturbation, self-hatred, etc. For so long I felt that my addictions were part of who I was, part of normal life even, and yet still I kept them secret and hidden because of the guilt and shame I felt. At some point in my life, I began hating my addictions. I knew what I was doing was wrong, I wanted to stop, but it seemed no matter what I did I just couldn't stop.
Over and over I'd stay clean for a while, relying solely on will-power, but over and over I'd fall and relapse. I got so angry with myself each time. Things weren't improving, regardless of how much I wanted to stop indulging. I didn't understand, isn't a desire to stop enough? Is there really any hope for me? Why can't I just stop?
I didn't even understand at the time that I was an addict. Sure, I had been to counseling, and had learned to refer to my indulgences as an addiction, but I did not understand what addiction was or what it was doing to me. I didn't even consider myself a true addict, and I believed that when I grew up it would stop. Oh, when I get married it'll stop. When I have friends it will stop. I just did not understand.
It wasn't until I was sent to inpatient treatment, and hit rock-bottom, that my heart was softened, I was humbled, and I was willing to turn to God for help. All my life I believed that I had to do everything thing on my own. I was quite independent and did not in any way want to rely on anyone else to help me. I've since realized that I could not overcome my addictions on my own. I needed to rely on God.
One thing I've learned in my life that has helped me so much is that no matter what your struggle is, you are not the only one. Even if you cannot find someone in your life who knows what you are going through, God and Christ know. They know all of us perfectly, no matter what we deal with, be it an addiction, physical ailment, sickness, death, whatever it may be.
I have to credit my recovery and ability to now be triumphing over my addictions to the 12-step program, my family and friends who have loved and supported me, my ward family, and most especially my Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and everyone on the other side who has been there to hold me and guide me when I felt lost and alone.
If you struggle with addiction, or really any negative or destructive behavior, I would encourage you to turn to God, your bishop, supportive family and friends, and any others you feel may help you. I would really recommend becoming familiar with the 12 steps, because they have helped me so much in my life and in recovery, and I've seen them change and save lives.
May we all continually strive to be better through the power of God and the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Know I love you all, and there will always be a way to overcome any trial(s) in your life. May we turn to God and learn to love as He does.
You can access and read the LDS 12-step Addiction Recovery Guide by visiting this website: http://addictionrecovery.lds.org/addiction-recovery-program-guide?lang=eng