What you need to know:
- To protect yourself from forming any unhealthy attachments, do not begin at all.
Recently, I bumped into a childhood friend who is on a mission to save people from addiction. For a while, my friend’s life took a tangent and found herself in the unyielding grip of alcoholism and drug addiction. For years, she tried to clean up her life and rejoin society, but the more she tried, the worse it became.
At some point she gave up and fell to the bottom of the bottom. She says, she reached a point, when she could not fall any lower, and that is when her eyes opened.
First, she realised she had a problem and needed as much help as she could to save her life. To cut the long story short, she has been clean for the last decade, but she still lives in fear of going back there.
She told me that for so many years, her biggest regret is taking that first sip of alcohol and that puff on the cigarette, because it is in that moment that her fortunes turned.
She does not regret the many times she blacked out, the many friends she lost or the degrading things she did to sustain her addiction as much as much as she does being foolish enough to even begin.
Her story is an indication that things we take lightly sometimes end up consuming our lives.
For instance, I recently learnt of a football player currently serving an English Football Association (FA) ban for consistently betting on his teams. Ivan Toney was charged with a total of 262 breaches between February 2017 and January 2021 when he was a player at Scunthorpe United, Wigan Athletic, Peterborough United and Brentford.
Consequently, he was banned from all soccer and soccer-related activity with immediate effect until January, 2024. He was also fined $62,000 (approximately Shs231m).
According to reports, some of Toney’s bets could have resulted in the maximum punishment of a lifetime ban, the report said. They included 13 bets on his own team to lose. The striker, who was described as a “prolific gambler,” admitted to having a gambling problem.
Closer to home, we all remember the period when self-kidnap had become rampart. A number of people carried out elaborate plots, some were successful, until the police discovered the habit.
Although it died down, once in a while, someone who probably did not get a memo, will try it out. Before we can point figures, many of us, like these perpetrators, are guilty of betting against our own lives, families and communities.
But what is even more crucial is that these people all started out thinking what they were doing would not hurt anyone.
No one, except the worst of humanity, goes out with the intention of becoming a criminal or an addict. They all start somewhere, with something insignificant, but the habit grows without their knowledge and by the time they realise that it has taken over their lives, they have no power over it.
That friend you have been flirting with could easily become the cause your marriage breaks up.
Because as the psychologist Abraham Maslow famously said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail”.
You will begin to notice things about your partner that will seem intolerable simply because there is a promise of a seemingly uncomplicated and perfect option.
If your weakness is alcohol there will be many reasons for you to end up in a bar. If your weakness is bribery, you will find so many ways to explain why you should be taking money that does not legally belong to you.
Your weaknesses and addictions will blind you to the fact that these short-term gains can lead to significant long-term consequences, including damage to one’s reputation, career and personal life. Deceptive actions can erode trust, which is a critical foundation of relationships, leadership and life in general.
When trust is broken, it can be challenging to rebuild, and it can lead to disillusionment among those affected. It is, therefore, essential for individuals, to take time to engage in self-reflection and make decisions that foster a culture of trust and integrity in both our private and public lives.
But most importantly, to protect yourself from forming any unhealthy attachments or habits, do not begin at all.