There is nothing easy about overcoming an insatiable desire like an addiction. Once the human body re-calibrates itself to crave a particular substance or hormone production, attempting to stop the desire can be like attempting to stop a speeding locomotive.
A relevant conversation can be had about the existence of imbalances and chemical influences that are beyond a person’s control. What is an addiction and what is a disease. However, in this short article I am not attempt to address that. While there is a time and a place for that conversation, we must guard ourselves against running a fool’s errand while men and women we care about are drowning in real-life, real-time addiction. Getting caught in the proverbial weeds will not help anyone.
If you, a loved one, or friend is caught in the throes of addiction, please consider the following words of encouragement.
You were created by God for God (Colossians 1:16). Your life has a purpose and that purpose has parameters. According to passages like Romans 8, we are guaranteed life – but life in a specific way. Life in the Spirit, which only comes by a relationship with Jesus. In that relationship with Jesus all our wants, needs, desires, and goals will be met. You were not created by God to be turned free to find your purpose or your pleasures. As Senator Ben Sasse points out in the opening lines of his book, The Vanishing American Adult, the lyrics of Cheryl Crow, “If it makes you happy/It can’t be that bad” is an unhealthy worldview. This kind of mindset will send you rocketing down a slippery slope.
Temporary happiness can be found in an addiction. Temporary relief and escape can be found in an addiction. But this discovery will never bring lasting love, joy, or peace. This fleeting feeling will only be a solution and never a resolution that only a healthy relationship with Jesus can guarantee.
Guard your mind against triggers. If you know me you know I am not a gun enthusiast. In fact, if you know me at all, guns and I don’t really get along well. However, I know enough to know a gun will not fire a bullet unless the trigger has been pulled. But no deer fears the trigger. They fear the bullet. In the same way, men and women have triggers which will fire the bullet of temptation that ultimately results in the bullseye of addiction being hit. No bullet will ever fly if the trigger is never pulled. Triggers which so often initiate the temptation of alcohol abuse, pornography, or impulse buying are things such as stress, anxiety, depression. Being bored. Being over-worked. Arrogance. Low self-esteem. Being hungry. Being tired. Being alone. And on and on the list can go.
Those who fight temptation the best, identify triggers and prevent them from being pulled. The next time you sin against God by way of indulging in an addiction, stop and ask yourself, “What is the trigger which prompted my sin?” Identifying and ultimately eliminating triggers is a massive first step toward healing and restoration.
Humility. Arrogance is the fertilizer in the soil where addictions grow. Your hubris tells you that you can handle it. Your ego convinces you it is no big deal, just a little vice. Your overconfidence leads you to believe you can quit anytime you want and a little bit never hurt anyone. Your piety creates a defensive spirit which renegotiates the Word of God and puts you on the defensive against loved ones who try to help. The old cliché is, “Admitting is the first step to recovery.” While this may be true, humility is the first step to a healthy relationship with God. The Bible teaches us God opposes the proud and shows favor to the humble (James 4:10). God is not fuzzy about this. In Proverbs 18:12 He warns us, “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.”
Humility is a foundational element of the Christian faith. Christ emulates humility as described in Philippians 2. If you or someone you love desires to be free from the bondage of addiction, humility is a powerful dose of medicine for the ego that ails you.
Overcoming an addiction begins with understanding for Whom and what you were created. Identifying and eliminating triggers is crucial and praying for and pursuing a God-honoring heart of humility is imperative. At the end of the day, no man or woman can fight an addiction alone. Temptation is powerful. May you find strength in the Holy Spirit and support from those who love and care for you. We are all in this together.