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Battling Addiction by Clinging to God’s Word: Thirsting for More Than Whiskey

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

By Sally Cardenas

Brave Women Series - Sally's Story


I was at my favorite little bar on the coast near Rome, holding my keys, thinking I could still drive home.


“Bella, another round?” Luca, the waiter, knew me all too well. Most Fridays, I’d stop by to catch the sunset. If I didn’t show, he’d assume I was traveling for the UN, and we’d catch up on politics later.


“Sally, what are you doing here? If I were American, I would never come back here.”

“I love Rome. I love the beach. I love the beauty of it all. My life is here.”

Quest’è la bottiglia di Sally,” he said, holding up a bottle of Jack Daniels. “No one else drinks this stuff. How do you do it?” He looked disgusted.


“I’m Texas tough,” I said, unwinding from a long week at the office. I sat admiring the waves, the sunset embraced my tired soul. I was restless, thirsty for more, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was or what it would be like to live in complete surrender to a God who still seemed so distant. Doubts surfaced about His love and care for my life, and despair compelled me to drink deeply.


 

"I was restless, thirsty for more, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was or what it would be like to live in complete surrender to a God who still seemed so distant. Doubts surfaced about His love and care for my life, and despair compelled me to drink deeply."

 

A few days later, I sat at my desk, trying to focus on my work. I stood up to take a break and sat right back down. I tried again, thinking it was a sudden drop in blood pressure, but I couldn’t stand. I felt a sharp pain to the right of my abdomen, like a knife, so strong, so debilitating. I was scared, fearing the worst. I called the UN medical unit.


“Let me call Dr. Christian at the hospital. He can run blood tests to see if there’s an infection. Whatever it is, he’ll find it. If it turns out to be your appendix or gallstones, he’ll operate right away. Come now.”


I met the doctor as the nurse wheeled me into his office. Once he ruled out my appendix as the culprit, he asked many questions and ordered invasive tests, medication, and bloodwork before sending me home.


Days later, he called me back into the office, certain he had identified the source of my pain.

“You have a fatty liver, the onset of Alcoholic Liver Disease directly linked to hard liquor. This disease is fatal. Your liver can no longer take it.”


When I heard “hard liquor,” I knew the game was up. No one had ever said that to me. I wanted to run from his office, but I felt the Lord’s presence convicting me. I knew I had been using alcohol to cope with life for years. I knew God had led me to this moment, and I could no longer hide behind Jack Daniels. Now I had to decide if I could surrender my life to God and allow Him to heal years of pain and suffering or if, at 39, I would allow alcohol to destroy me.


 

"I had to decide if I could surrender my life to God and allow Him to heal years of pain and suffering or if, at 39, I would allow alcohol to destroy me."

 


In the car, I wept. I had met the Great Physician, who had shown up and silently confronted me, knowing the full extent of my toxic relationship with alcohol. Have you ever received a diagnosis you knew you had contributed to? Did it take you by surprise, bringing you to your knees?

That night, I clung to my Bible in a new way and mourned the loss of my beloved Jack. I wasn’t prepared to let him go. The battle was real, and so was the stronghold of addiction. Are there any strongholds in your life that compare? Have you struggled to end a toxic relationship that threatened to end your life?


 

"Are there any strongholds in your life that compare? Have you struggled to end a toxic relationship that threatened to end your life?"

 

For days, I felt the lingering effects of a hangover. I could neither see nor think clearly. I felt vulnerable and exposed, saddened that my body had turned on me. The most difficult part was how alone I felt. I didn’t know anyone who had openly dealt with alcoholism and survived. Who was I without alcohol?


The words, “This disease is fatal,” forced me to choose a path I had never considered. The Bible was my only anchor to keep me from sinking further into despair.


 

"The words, “This disease is fatal,” forced me to choose a path I had never considered. The Bible was my only anchor to keep me from sinking further into despair."

 

I reached for the new journal my sister had given me and began recording my thoughts to release the turmoil inside me. It read like a desperate plea for divine intervention. I called God’s name every night, begging for deliverance. I wanted to bulldoze the pain from my body. I felt as if someone was holding me back, covering my mouth, refusing to set me free. Every painful memory resurfaced, but this time, I couldn’t drink it down.


That night, I began writing and never stopped. My journal became the starting point for my memoir chronicling my journey of faith, hope, and love toward our Heavenly Father. I discovered that I longed for God and His promises of deliverance, not the temporary relief alcohol provided. I wanted a relationship with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior…as His beloved daughter with no strings attached.


 

"I discovered that I longed for God and His promises of deliverance, not the temporary relief alcohol provided. I wanted a relationship with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior…as His beloved daughter with no strings attached."

 

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13–14 NIV)


"To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:6–7 NIV)


Today, I see with clarity that every day is a new day to share the gift of His hope with others. Allow me to come alongside you and whisper truth into your weary heart a simple message…


WE ARE NEVER WITHOUT HOPE BECAUSE WE ARE NEVER WITHOUT CHRIST.


 

"WE ARE NEVER WITHOUT HOPE BECAUSE WE ARE NEVER WITHOUT CHRIST."

 

If you are ready to courageously venture into uncharted waters with the only anchor that will sustain you, I would be honored to send you a Bible of your own to start with. Please feel free to DM via Instagram or FB to make the connection. My information is below.


“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

(Hebrews 6:19 NIV)


 

Brave Woman Manifesto


Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story. And by the way...


You are Brave!


No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means He equips you with His courage, strength, and power. I would love to connect more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the FREE Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my empowered email tribe.


AS A BONUS… Subscribers will also be the first to receive news regarding the book I am writing with Moody Publishers! SIGN UP for more info on my book’s release and availability.


 

About Sally


Araceli (Sally) Cardenas is an author, independent consultant for the United Nations in Rome, Italy, and owner of Rome Today TV and Tours. Her passion and calling are to encourage, equip, and empower women all over the world to discover their value and worth in who they are in Christ. She shares God’s love and hope with others through her writing and teaching, including Beyond the Veil, her memoir more than two decades in the making, and her children’s book, Buddy and Baby in Rome, a fun story capturing the unlikely friendship between an odd doggy couple and how they learn to rely on each other no matter their shape or size.


Connect with Sally on her website aracelicardenas.com and enjoy her latest hope-filled devotionals and posts by subscribing HERE. You can also follow Sally on Instagram and Facebook.


*** If you or someone you know is battling with alcohol, addiction, or mental health, you are not alone. Help is available.

2 Comments


I REALLY ENJOYED READING YOUR LESSON. I AM TRYING TO BREAK MY ADDICITION TO FOOD AND SMOKING AND FOUND GREAT STRENGTH FROM HOW YOU BROKE YOUR ADDICTION. THANK YOU FOR LETTING YOUR LIGHT SHINE TO HELP OTHERS.

BETTY

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Replying to

Thank you, Betty, for your words of encouragement. The struggle is real, but God is GREATER! Praying the Lord will give you the strength and courage to break free.

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