The Addiction Train: When Will You Get Off?

Imagine yourself on a moving train. When you first got on the train, you were excited and full of life. Maybe there was a certain energy to the train, the thrill of an adventure. Or maybe you found something soothing about being on the train, the motion of the journey or feeling like you could escape. Early on, the train stops in nice places. The view outside your window is pleasant. You like the ride. But slowly, the scenery begins to change. You don’t often see nice things outside of your window anymore. Each time the train stops you are in an even more dangerous neighborhood. It just keeps getting worse. You are spending time in places you had no intention of visiting. This isn’t what you expected when you got on this train, and you are starting to realize that it is not turning back. When do you decide to get off the train for good? When do you find your way to the other side of the tracks, as scary as it may seem, and try a different train headed in a new direction?

Addiction is just like that train. As it moves forward it makes certain stops, fun and easy at the beginning, then more and more troublesome. For an alcoholic or a drug addict, the familiar stops along the route include DUIs, other arrests, lost jobs, angry family members, divorce. For a food addict they may include weight gain, depression, fear, low self-esteem, and diabetes or other health problems. For a gambling addict, they may include calls from the creditors, frightened and angry spouses, stealing from friends and family, and suicidal thoughts. The route your train takes may include any or all of those stops. The truth is, if you stay on this train, you are likely to hit worse and worse stations along the way. For most addicts, the end of the line is death.

If you knew that, really knew that for sure, would you let that train keep carrying you in that same direction? No! You would run from that train and hop straight on the one heading back to a safe and healthy place.

Take some time today to think about the train you are currently riding, or had been riding until you got into recovery. What does the route look like for your particular addiction? What stops did you make along the way, and what could you see coming up ahead? It would help to write about this in your journal or even to draw a picture to map your train’s route. Your addiction loves to romanticize itself (that’s a nice way of saying that it lies). For you to make a real decision about how you want to live, it will be important to see through the lies and know what’s really going on. Then you can decide if this is the train you want to be riding!