I don't know very much about addiction.

 But then neither does anybody else, so I guess my opinion is as valid as the next guy's.

 So here's my take on how to avoid being a drunk or an addict.

 Don't start. Never take the first drink. Don't try cocaine or meth or heroin or pills, even once. If you don't want to drown, don't go near the water.

 That's easy to say, isn't it. And it's easy to laugh at. It's easy to dismiss as simplistic and unrealistic.

 But it also happens to be true. The guy who never tries a beer never becomes a drunk, and the guy who never tries cocaine never becomes addicted to it. And the incredible destruction and misery of alcoholism and drug addiction are so great and overwhelming that exposure to even the slightest risk of them is unacceptable. Even past experience is no indicator of safety. Sure, maybe you've done some drinking, and maybe you've used some drugs and you've come out OK. You were fine. You were in control. It was just recreation. But the truth is that the subtlety of addiction is such that you don't know you have a problem until it's too late. Part of having a substance problem is thinking that you don't have a substance problem. It anesthetizes you to the damage it is doing to you until the damage is nearly fatal.

 Don't start.

 There's no such thing as an acceptable level of poison, there is no condition under which the Russian roulette of addiction is an acceptable risk.

 That's how you avoid it.

 But some people are past the avoiding it stage. Their issue is escaping it.

 And here's the truth on that: They can, but they probably won't.

 Most drunks stay drunk, most addicts stay addicted. The only question is how much damage they can do along the way. To themselves. To their parents. To their children. To their friends. To their communities. It's like a rotting carcass that spreads its stench and filth far and wide. If drunks and addicts only destroyed themselves we wouldn't care. It's what they do to everything precious they encounter that makes this phenomenon so tragic.

 But escape is available to all. Though difficult and unlikely it is never impossible. It is always possible, if the person wants it. Really wants it. And is willing to pay the very high price to buy his life back from addiction.

 Specifically, at the price of strength and faith.

 Those are the lifelines which offer the only chance of escape from the hell of addiction. You can't buy it at rehab, you can't get it from the doctor, your sponsor can't give it to you. You've got to find it within yourself.

 Or you can stay right where you are, in an ever-worsening torment.

 The first lifeline is strength, the belief that you ultimately and fundamentally are in charge of your life and your choices. You are a free agent. You are in control. The addiction is your enemy, but it is not your master, not if you don't want it to be. Strength teaches you, when all is said and done, that you have the ability to choose whether or not to use drugs or alcohol. You can shut it off. You have the power to command your hand not to bring it to your mouth or inject it in your veins. You can stop right now.

 You are not powerless, you are powerful. It is your addiction which whispers that you are incapable of resisting it. And it is lying to you.

 To be clean and sober, you must decide that you want to be. And then you must force yourself to be.

 That's strength. And that will do half the job.

 The other half must be done by faith.

 Specifically faith in a God who can  heal you of your afflictions. You must believe with all your heart that the same Lord who commanded the lame to walk, the blind to see and the dead to rise can heal your addiction. If the power of faith can heal a broken body, it can heal a broken spirit and mind. If you can have faith that this healing is possible, you have faith to ask the Lord to give it to you. You can cry out in your pain and know that your voice is heard, that your anguish is felt by a heavenly parent, that you are never truly alone or unsupported, that the power that made you can fix you.

You must realize that as Jesus healed people he told them, "Thy faith hath made thee whole." His power, yes, but drawn down by their faith. You must believe that and do that.

 By so doing, you will be partnering your own strength and choice with the power of the divine. You will be standing on your own two feet while simultaneously leaning on the sure support of the Lord. It is a combination which cannot be beaten, it is a combination which can prevail, it is a combination which can overcome addiction.

 But it seldom does. Not because it is flawed, but because we are deficient in our commitment to it. It is easier to give in to addiction than to resist it. It hurts to be strong, it is deceivingly comforting to be weak. And it is hard to build a healing faith, to so believe and rely.

 It is very difficult. It is a high price.

 But all good things come at a high price, and this is about ransoming your life from a devil who holds it bound. The devil of drink or drug. This is the most important thing in your life. And if you want it to be easy then you can't have it right.

 You're in the swamp, and the only way out is to walk out under your own power, and with your hand in the hand of the Savior.

 That's just the way it is.

 And your situation is do or die.

 Like I said, I don't know very much about addiction.

 But I'm right. And you know it.