Being addicted to a substance, a behavior, or any other number of things often carries a stigma of shame that leaves people feeling isolated. Obviously, no one wants to be addicted to anything, but millions of Americans struggle with the pain of addiction every day. If you or someone you know is facing addiction, please understand that God passionately loves you and wants the best for you. His Word provides the keys we need for deliverance.
According to studies, nearly 21 million Americans say that they are addicted to drugs or alcohol. That number does not include the millions more who admit to struggling with addiction to sex, pornography, or any other various vices that take a foothold on the lives of people and hold them captive for years on end. First of all, if you are a part of that number, please, seek professional help. Counseling, rehabilitation, and other options that you have access to provide valuable resources and the tools that you need to overcome the addiction that is holding you captive.
However, in addition to the programs that you can find that can help with overcoming these addictions, God’s Word provides plenty of insight. Many people wrongly assume that the Bible doesn’t discuss addiction because the word is never used in Scripture. However, there are plenty of principles discussed in Scripture that can give us an insight into God’s plan for people who struggle with addiction in their own lives.
If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction, understand that the same God who created you stands at the ready to deliver you from this thing that is keeping you captive. He has a beautiful plan for your life that includes freedom and abundant life.
What is Addiction?
Ultimately, addiction is one of the most misunderstood issues that the Church has to tackle today. With more than 20 million people facing addictions of some kind, it’s safe to assume that there are people who sit in your church every week who are addicted to something. That poses the question: what is addiction? Understanding this question is the first step to overcoming this common vice.
Is addiction a sin, a psychological disorder, or a disease? The answer to that question is far more elaborate than could possibly be contained in a single study. When a person is addicted to a substance or a behavior, they do experience a release of endorphins in their brain. On that level, addiction is both a psychological disorder and a disease, and is classified as such by the CDC.
Being addicted in itself is not sinful. However, addiction often causes people to take part in sinful behaviors. Also, it puts you in a position where you need something other than Christ to leave you fulfilled and complete. For instance, the Bible is clear about “not being drunk with wine,” and to be “sober and in your right mind” (Ephesians 5:18 and 1 Peter 5:8-9). It’s not possible to do that when you’re addicted to a substance. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to commit other sins while trying to secure their next fix. Furthermore, those who are addicted to sex and pornography regularly commit sexual sins which the Bible talks about at length.
Needing something isn’t sinful. However, the behaviors that stem from that addiction often contradict the commandments that God has given to His people.
Today is a New Day
Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
While you should certainly use resources available to you and seek the aid of the Holy Spirit in your recovery from addiction, there is also a certain amount of your battle that you can take on yourself. Today, in this moment, make the declaration that today is a new day. In most recovery programs, your sponsor (or the person who works with you through the program) will encourage you to keep count of how many days you’ve gone without using the substance that you’re addicted to. You can make the decision that today is Day 1.
God wants to do something completely new in your life. Perhaps you’ve struggled with addiction for years, and you struggle to remember a version of yourself that wasn’t dependent on a substance or a certain behavior. If that’s the case, God wants to give you a fresh start today.
Perhaps you’re new to addiction, and you’ve already realized that you want out. Even if you always view your own life through the lens of “before addiction” and “after addiction,” God doesn’t operate that way. Instead, if you’re ready to commit your future to Him and the freedom that He offers, He will give you a fresh start today.
Owning Your Issues
Psalm 32:4-5 (TPT)
The pain never let up, for your hand of conviction was heavy on my heart. My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within my soul. Then I finally admitted to you all my sins, refusing to hide them any longer. I said, “My life-giving God, I will openly acknowledge my evil actions.” And you forgave me! All at once the guilt of my sin washed away and all my pain disappeared!
We don’t know exactly what sin David was referring to in these verses, but we also know that David’s life was full of bad decisions. Even though he was hand-chosen by God to serve as King over His people, David struggled with his own pride, sexual immorality, and any number of other sins. While we don’t know what Psalm 32 was about, it’s certainly a powerful roadmap to dealing with addiction.
Look at verse 4 to begin. “My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within my soul.” Doesn’t that sound like the ramifications of addiction? Additionally, David felt the conviction (or correction) of God during this period in His life. Addicts are already aware that their behavior isn’t right in the eyes of God. They experience that conviction.
David made the decision to admit his sins to God, “refusing to hide them any longer.” That is one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with addiction. Since addiction comes with such a negative stigma, many people suffer in silence because they are too ashamed to admit that they have a problem. However, once David admitted his own wrongdoing to God, God forgave Him, and washed away all of his guilt and sin. He will do the same for you.
In order to overcome your addiction, you will have to own the fact that you’re addicted. This doesn’t mean that you have to make a public announcement on your social media feed, but it does mean that you will need to acknowledge the role that you played in where you’re at now. However, we have a Father in Heaven who loves the addict as much as He loves His own Son. Isn’t that incredible?!
God loved you so much that He gave the very best that He had to offer just so you could have a relationship with Him (John 3:16). While He doesn’t condone the addiction, He still wants a relationship with the addict. God loves you, exactly like you are. Nothing you can do will make Him love you any more or any less. However, in order to fully embrace the abundant life that He has for you, you will have to allow Him to help you overcome the addiction that is holding you back.
A Closing Prayer:
(If you are praying for a friend or family member who is struggling with addiction, replace the words “I,” “my,” and “me” with their name)
Father, I need your help to overcome the addiction that has taken hold of my life. I know that You love me and want better for me than I even want for myself. Give me the strength necessary to move past this. In Christ’s name, Amen.