Addiction and Free Choice

[From "Maayanei Ha-Yeshua" – Parashat Ki Tetze 5769]

Concern: My name is Rivka. I have experienced extremely hard times, including the loss of a loved one. I now have a terrible addiction, which I do not want to detail. I have been to all types of treatments, but they have not helped. I am not sure I even have any hope. I am completely in despair.
Answer: The common denominator of all types of treatments for addictions, such as for drugs, alcohol or gambling, is that the treatment is not in place of the will to be cured. First and foremost, you must change your outlook on yourself and on life.
Western Culture is a culture of benefit and over-indulgence, i.e. one should give into his inclination whatever they might be. You should change your spiritual direction, and believe in yourself that you have the strength to overcome this inclination, you have free choice and with great effort you can get out of this and return to the light.
Look how much the Torah emphasizes how Rivka Imenu, for whom you were named, received a distorted education from all direction: her father, brother, and locale – and she was able to escape it. Betuel (her father) was a murderer and tried to poison Eliezer (Targum Yonatan on Bereshit 24:33). Lavan was a murderer and wanted to murder Yaakov Avinu (Midrash Ha-Gadol on Bereshit 31:22). Both of them were idol worshippers (Rashi on Ber, 24:31, 31:19). And Lavan had chutzpa to speak before his father (Rashi on Bereshit 24:50). Lavan was greedy and when he saw the jewelry which Eliezer brought, he ran to his father (Bereshit 24:30 with Rashi). Lavan was called "Doubly Evil" (Sanhedrin 105a).
In contrast, Rivka was completely kind (Rashi on Bereshit 24:14), modest, and pure.
This teaches you that there is free choice. It is possible to free yourself from the evil inclination and to climb higher. This is unlike the expression of weakness in Western Culture: "This is how I am. Accept me for me." Look at the determination of Rivka: "And they called Rivka and asked her: Do you want to go with this man (Eliezer)? And she said: "I will go!" (Bereshit 24:28) – Even if you don't want me to go (Rashi).
It is true that a person lives with a body and he is limited by it but the soul is always free. It is an unparalleled Divine wonder. We have the power to overcome all obstacles.
Be strong and courageous.