Addictions that impair our agency

Addictions can bring bondage to us, and our families. How to avoid the trap of addiction.

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  • John was a hard worker, he climbed the professional ladder at a fast pace. It rewarded him well. He had a beautiful family, and a wonderful home. Winning at work and succeeding were all John thought about. He seemed to have it all. But he wasn’t happy. Throughout his life, as John worked harder, he achieved awards, and recognition, but he was still unhappy. His appetite for success and recognition seemed bottomless.

  • Soon, John's wife became unhappy as well, she was alone with their children most of the time while John traveled to important meetings and worked on the weekends. John realized he needed to pay more attention to his family so he started buying them the latest toys, or fashions. Trying to make up for his lack of time.

  • John began giving his family material things he craved. John never thought about working less. What John didn’t realize is his family craved his time, not his money or success.

  • You might not see work as an addiction, but even good things can take over and take us away from family. John had a choice to make.

  • Quentin L. Cook, a lawyer, explains why John, and most of the world, remains unhappy even after great achievement.

  • “God intended that men and women would be free to make choices between good and evil. When evil choices become dominant characteristics of a culture or nation, there are serious consequences both in this life and the life to come. People can become enslaved or put themselves in bondage not only to harmful, addictive substances but also to harmful, addictive philosophies that detract from righteous living ... addictions that impair agency, contradict moral beliefs, and destroy good health cause bondage. The impact of drugs and alcohol, immorality, pornography, gambling, financial subjugation, and other afflictions imposes on those in bondage and on society a burden of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to quantify.”

  • We are all progressing toward greatness. A loving God has a plan of happiness for us. He has given us agency, a wonderful gift that allows us to choose and learn. When we misuse that agency and enslave ourselves to our addictions we stop progressing toward happiness.

  • Why do we become addicted?

  • Gabor Mate has said, "It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour."

  • When you find yourself with an addiction the question that needs to be answered is, what need are you trying to fill? What is missing?

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  • Our lives are so full, sometimes we don't realize we need relief or peace. We think peace will come with a bigger paycheck, or more drugs. But, the peace that we are seeking, comes from our loving Father in Heaven, our God.

  • What addictions impair our freedom? How can you overcome or avoid them?

  • Drugs and alcohol

  • We have been taught the consequences of these addictions from our youth. The devastating effect these can have on our physical, financial, family and spiritual health is clear. Avoiding these addictions can be hard. Seek out help, friends and family can be the basis of a great support system. If you determine you cannot quit alone, find help.

  • Pornography and immorality

  • . Pornography is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing plagues on the family. Pornography not only affects the viewer, it destroys marriages, families, relationships and any agency the viewer has. Pornography thrives on secrecy. Admitting you have a problem out loud to your spouse or religious leader can bring some relief and start you on the path to recovery.

  • Talk to your children about pornography, it is a growing problem in youth and even younger children. Teach them about avoidance, most addicts will tell you they came upon pornography by accident the first time. Teach your children what to do if this happens, and that there is no shame in telling an adult.

  • Gambling

  • This addiction, like alcohol, is legal and can be easy to justify. Create a support system of friends and family to help you through your recovery if this is a problem. Ask yourself what you are lacking, a healthy relationship? Financial security? What is driving you to this addiction? Be honest in your answers.

  • Inappropriate Internet relationships

  • Online relationships, chatting and connecting with people outside our marriage can become an addiction. Participating in immorality in a virtual world is still immorality. Many try to separate their online lives from their "real" lives but this is impossible. Who we are online is a direct reflection on who we really are. Limit your online time, set definite limits on who you talk to and what you say. Allow your spouse or children to view your history. It's amazing what you'll limit if someone is reading over your shoulder.

  • What about more subtle or hidden addictions?

  • John became addicted to the need for wealth and power. We can become addicted to many things. Shopping, reading and eating can all become addictions if overdone. Anything that we do repeatedly even though it hurts us or our family is an addiction. These addictions are often a desire to fill a void.

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  • The downside of addiction is that when we spend the majority of our time thinking about our addiction and participating in it, we miss time with our families. We spend the money we need to feed our children on our addiction. If that is the case, it is time to ask a professional for help.

  • There are many 12-step programs available for self-help at low or no cost

  • Contact your local mental health providers for information about groups in your area. Most groups are free and confidential. It’s never too late to make a change for happiness. Here are a few resources:

    • Alcoholics Anonymous
    • Addiction Recovery program this is a 12-step program that includes many local recovery groups for different addictions including pornography.

    • Addiction Recovery guide is an international site to help locate local recovery programs.

    • Netsmartzkids is an online learning program for kids about being safe on the Internet and staying away from pornography. This is a fun way for your kids to learn about staying safe.

  • Cook said, “Bondage, subjugation, addictions and servitude come in many forms. They can be literal physical enslavement but can also be loss or impairment of moral agency that can impede our progress.”

  • Take a moment to evaluate your life. Do you have any addictions that are impairing your agency? If so, step up and be strong. With God's help, you can overcome and continue along the path of happiness.

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Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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