Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a Public Health Advisory stating that more Americans should be prepared to help victims suffering from opioid overdose by routinely carrying the drug Naloxone, a drug known to reverse the affects of opioids. In 2016, 42,249 people died from opioid overdose. That represents 119 people dying a very preventable death each day. What a heart breaking reality we are facing in America.
This opioid epidemic brings to my mind how powerful these drugs are at discouraging the human spirit to live and overcome obstacles. Addiction overrides our natural instinct to avoid things that will harm us. More of the drug is taken knowing that it may even cause death. Addicts can get to the place where their desire for the drug is so strong they get discouraged and give up hope to ever be freed. In this state of mind many just resign themselves to being lifetime addicts. And some may indeed intentionally overdose in exhaustion from the struggle.
The temptation to give up a difficult struggle is real. Whether it is a difficult marriage, a challenging class, a disabling illness, an impossible child – the temptation to quit and give up is an obvious option. When you are bombarded with heavy expectations that continue to be unmet there is always a temptation to give up and quit in an effort to remove the stress caused by the expectation.
The temptation to quit when things are hard and difficult is really a natural response to pain. Pain is a sensation that lets you know something is not right and may possibly be harmful for you. Homeostasis is that stable state all organisms and systems tend to seek that is self-preserving and safe. It is that normal relaxed status quo that makes up our comfort zone. When this comfort is disturbed all systems are activated to get things back to normal. This is why it is so hard to go to the gym and to keep exercising when it starts to hurt. That is why criticism often leads to defensiveness. The temptation to quit is often unbearable and irresistible because it feels like you are going to die. In order to keep from quitting one must overcome the urge with contrasting thoughts that say you are not going to die.
The old adage “no pain, no gain!” brings to my mind the picture of someone struggling to lift that last rep on the bench press. You’re not going to die but it sure feels like it. In these situations you must push through through the pain to reach your goals. In this sense, ignoring the pain is mostly a good thing.
But to avoid personal damage, that “you’re not going to die” thought should be truth based. It is very easy for us to slip into denial to convince
ourselves that what we are doing is not going to cause us harm when in actuality it will. Engaging in a forbidden relationship is an example of fooling oneself to think what they are doing will cause no harm. It is painful to resist lustful and infatuated feelings. But the truth that not resisting these emotions will ultimately cause you more harm must prevail. The truth, unfortunately, is often misaligned by popular opinion and behavior. Ignoring it though, leads to the demise of many.
Opioid overdose, the most popular preventable cause of death today, is often an example of being in denial about the truth that this thing will kill you. The pain of withdrawal really is the best option. Instead of the addict saying to themselves “I’ll be alright!”, “I can handle it.” or in despair “This is overwhelming me!”, they should say “No matter how strong my desire for this drug it is not necessary for my survival. This is dangerous behavior that I must stop. I must avoid this behavior no matter how difficult in order to avoid more pain and pain to my loved ones.”
If you are going through a tough time right now let me encourage you to consider the source of that pain and whether the pain means quit doing what you are doing or keep pushing through it. It is very important to get wise counsel when facing this decision. Your counsel can make the difference between failure or success.
Whatever difficulties you are facing, setbacks you have experienced or mistakes you have made, don’t forget that God is with you. He will help you make it through this challenge. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up. Keep trying! You may be just one strike away till the tree you have been banging on falls. Remember Thomas Edison’s light bulb worked on the one thousand and first attempt. You can do it!