God has given us certain instructions and guidelines that lead to health, peace of mind and happiness. Addictions war against these guidelines.
In the following series of articles, learn in detail about four of the most prevalent addictions, as well as several strategies for gaining independence from any addiction through the power of God.
Whether secular or religious, nearly all parties asked will confidently classify addictions as harmful. Those who want to obediently serve God and follow His instructions will acknowledge addictions to be insidious sins that must be overcome. Yet in circumstances where brain chemistry is actively working against common sense and slowing progress, is there any hope to break free? It takes pain, sacrifice, time and effort—but the answer is yes.
The sticky stuff
Addictions are sticky. It all starts with that first venture into something we know we should not do, but then do anyway. There it is; this sticky stuff is now attached to us. The more we take part in the action, the stickier it gets on our skin.
Some can immediately wash that sticky stuff off and be rid of it, hating the feeling of it from the moment it was on their skin. Unfortunately, many experience quite a different effect. Only when the action is very thick and sticky, do they realize they want it off immediately.
They try to get this horrible, sticky substance off, but they realize it IS NOT coming off! They try chipping away at it, washing it constantly, sometimes even feeling that they are making progress. But then they remember how good it felt to have the stickiness and they lose more ground than was gained. Emotions come along with this: shame, regret, embarrassment, depression, anger, frustration, loss of self-worth, self-deprecation—and the sticky stuff just holds on for dear life.
Looking for help
This series of articles is intended to provide some motivation and reality checks about addiction. Once we come to the decision that this horrible addiction has ruined enough days, weeks, months and even years of our life and that we desperately want freedom from it, then we can start to look for help.
The first One we must go to is the only provider of true comfort and assistance in the entire universe, God. Prayer may have been difficult during those times when we were getting stickier and stickier, but now it must be a priority. God truly knows exactly how sticky and destructive addictions are, so He no doubt is eager for us to turn to Him for guidance and freedom from sin: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis added throughout).
In addition to going to God, we can also take advantage of an enormous help that God provides for us: other people, often called accountability partners or “sponsors.” Addictions love to hide in the shadows where they can secretly torment us for years, possibly without anyone ever knowing that we are fighting a large-scale war in our minds.
Letting a select few people—or just one person—into the struggle does wonders to destroy the loneliness and overwhelming nature of addictions. This person, or these people, must be a compassionate and loving help to the situation instead of a condemning and self-righteous hindrance. God does not throw us away and “give up on us” if we relapse or make mistakes, so neither should the people to whom we have opened ourselves up.
Needless to say, we must choose this person wisely and realistically. One who hates what the addiction is doing to us but firmly believes Romans 3:23 (“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”) would be a good choice.
In order to make lasting progress, we need to also identify the causes of our addictions. What is it that triggers a yielding to the addiction? One needs to become aware of this and deal with the causes as well as changing the behavior. This will help in battling the tendency to constantly relapse into the problem again.
This will be covered in more depth for each specific addiction, but we must take advantage of programs, associations and counselors who specialize in treating and helping those with addictions. Options include local ministers with experience in counseling, as well as specialists with Christian backgrounds. Remember, there are people there to help if we decide to use them.
This introduction begins a series in which specific addictions will be addressed: alcoholism, pornography, smoking and gambling. Other addictions, such as drug addiction, will not be directly addressed; but the strategies and overall realities about addiction in these articles are meant to cover more than just the specific topics. A concluding article offers a comprehensive look at the first month in overcoming an addiction.
So, let’s take the first steps toward freedom from addiction—steps that start on our knees in prayer to God and end with a smile, instead of a shudder, when we see ourselves in the mirror.