Friend or Foe?

Imagine you’re ill, really really ill. No one is quite sure what’s wrong; the doctors haven’t found the problem, let alone the solution. Yet, you simply can’t function, you can hardly lift your head to eat or drink sometimes. It started with a bug many months ago, but you never recovered, you just got increasingly unwell. 

But you have your friend, your amazing friend without whom you couldn’t cope. This friend came to your aid when you had the bug, making you soup, rubbing your back as you threw up, keeping you company, keeping the water bottle and coffee mugs full, and when you didn’t recover, your friend didn’t leave you to suffer alone. 

Family have concerns about your friend, and you’ve noticed things yourself, like missing money and some controlling behaviours, but you’re not bothered about that because you need this friend. No-one else is there for you like this friend, nothing makes the suffering more bearable, no one provides what this friend provides.

Imagine finding that this friend has Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, now called FDIA, a psychological condition whereby someone secretly makes another person ill and then assumes the role of carer, whilst using the “care” to inflict the harm they claim to be soothing. The person you thought was helping you was actually making you suffer. The bug was the opportunity for that person to attach and inflict damage, stopping your recovery from that bug and adding more problems. What would you do? Get the friend arrested? Change the locks? Look forward to finally getting well without that person being enabled to inflict further illness?  

Addiction is that “friend”.

Addiction creates a problem it claims to be solving; claims to relieve suffering that it, in fact, causes. There’s always a “bug” that becomes its opportunity, anything from deep trauma amidst constant dysfunction, to a niggling sense of emptiness. Once addiction attaches itself, it prevents healing from the original “bug” and adds layers of additional “sickness”. 

Once we know the truth about addiction, that knowledge empowers us to outwit it. The fake friend gets exposed, the trick is unveiled. 

Addiction deceived Nicola for nearly twenty years. From infancy, it appeared to improve the trouble it created. Any original “bug” was an effect of the addiction already having a hold on those in her life. For her, the “friend” had always been part of life. By the age of 13 her mum had given her illegal drugs for the first time. By the age of 20 she had 2 children from destructive relationships. By 30 she’d had 4 children removed from her, and a long history of violent, chaotic, toxic relationships, fuelled by constant addiction. By the age of 31 she had been through multiple rehabs, had met Jesus and had managed periods of abstinence, but was still deceived by addiction and kept relapsing.  

Then, in 2019 she began to learn the truth. Through the True Freedom recovery model, she learnt that addiction created the very problems it claimed to solve, and she learnt how it works. The cravings, the mind wars, the lines she never thought she’d cross, the despair, the times she had tried and failed – it all began to make sense. She learnt that the “friend” had been the one making her ill, and how to stop it.

Nicola now runs a women’s rehab home, using the True Freedom material that led to her freedom, and now has the joy of seeing other women find the same freedom. She is happily married with her fifth child now 4 months old and contact restored with almost all her other children. Not only has Nicola been “clean and sober” for three years, but she also has no desire for the substances she once believed she couldn’t live without. The only battles she now fights are those that come with being a disciple of Jesus, irrespective of addiction history.

In Nicola’s own words: “In my days of addiction, I never thought I would find freedom. Then I started working through True Freedom and came to understand the trick, how it had gripped me and controlled me for so long. True Freedom gave me the tools to truly find freedom. I am now 3 years clean and living the purposeful life I never thought was possible.”


Rebekah Thomas is the author of ‘True Freedom’, she co-leads Hope Centre Ministries (UK) with her husband Clyde, and she is a minister at Victory Church, Cwmbran.