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On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence declared America as a country free from rule by Great Britain. Freedom sounds like a wonderful thing. Right? But if this were true, why do so many people choose to live in bondage when they could be free? When Moses led the enslaved people out of Egypt to freedom, they could not embrace the change, thus delaying their journey for over 40 years.

Slavery takes on many forms. When addicted people stop using, most return to being slaves to their addiction.

Freedom is wonderful, but with it comes responsibility. Freedom means being willing to go through the discomfort of change. It means learning how to live as a free person. How to become independent. How to develop faith. How to love.

Independence – is a powerful word. It means you are not ruled by anyone or anything. It means that you can take care of yourself. It also means that you can co-exist – inter-dependence. You are responsible for yourself and to others. Freedom means you are no longer dependent because you contribute back to your world by choice, not force. Regarding addiction, freedom means that instead of putting all your energy into using (drugs, food, sex, etc.), you now replace those behaviors with acts of love for yourself and others.

Recovery is independence from addiction. Independence means you learn to take care of your emotional needs without depending on addiction to cope or feel all right. Once that occurs, you discover your truest self and convert your energy from using into sharing your time and talents. Independence does not mean you transfer from one addiction to another. It means you are free from all of them. Maybe not all at once, but the goal is complete, not partial freedom.

Faith – It’s hard to have confidence in the unseen. When the enslaved people left Egypt, they ventured into the unknown. Despite the miracles they witnessed, once in the desert, they doubted they would be able to survive. In slavery, their basic needs were met. Now, they had nothing but the few items they had brought. Starting a new life takes time, but most importantly, it takes faith. Developing faith is a paradox. You only build faith by having it. You can’t see the unknown, but you believe it will happen. Sometimes results are fast, sometimes slow. Faith means you give up having to have things your way now. It means you trust that if you stay on track, things are working out for your highest good, regardless of your fears.

Jack struggled with addiction for years to the point that he was in constant legal trouble. When he finally got sober, he still had to face the music of previous crimes. The judge didn’t care that he was a year sober, and Jack wound up in federal prison. Jack had to decide – go backward or forward. He didn’t moan and groan about how unfair it was to pay for his crimes. Instead of relapsing, he stayed sober and started a recovery meeting for inmates. Jack’s faith carried him through that setback, and when he was released from prison continued his sober journey. By keeping his faith, his life got better with each passing day. Once out of jail, he went from poverty to riches, from isolation to a community leader, from lonely to a family man. Jack didn’t allow his uncomfortable feelings to keep him enslaved.

Love – Many people confuse love with getting a good feeling. People who are addicted don’t know how to love fully. They think they love their cigarettes, food, drugs, things, or whatever else gets them momentarily high. The more dependent they become, the less they care for or about themselves. They continue despite poor health, failing relationships, bad outcomes.

Love isn’t about getting. It’s about sharing and receiving. But to be comfortable with freedom, you must want love more than anything else. People who enjoy their freedom aren’t focusing on getting what they want. They’ve already received the ultimate gift. Thinking that getting everything you want will make you happy is another form of imprisonment. Instead, placing your thoughts on learning how to love yourself and others will give you the consciousness of plenty. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous succeeded only because they chose to help others. This act of love saved themselves and millions of others from slavery to alcohol to freedom. Now, many programs are using that same model for all other addictions.

Today is a day to remember that freedom is a gift. It’s also a choice. How important is your life to you? Do you want to see yourself joyous and giving or miserable and feeling a sense of lack? Independence is about cutting loose for good. It might be uncomfortable for a while, but just like our founding fathers, we must forge ahead and bond together to achieve permanent freedom.

Join our movement.

Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.

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