Dealing with Addictions
To what are you addicted? Reese’s Peanut Butter cups? Jelly Beans? Wendy’s French fries? Something else/worse?
An addiction is a dependence. It is a dependence on a substance—like alcohol, illegal drugs, or even legal drugs; or it is a dependence on an activity—like gambling or shopping. The former is a physical addiction; the latter is a psychological addiction. It is a dependence that “helps” someone get through everyday life. For example, an alcoholic feels he cannot function well without a drink.
For Christians, forgetting who we are and Whose we are can lead us to seek dependence on something else besides Jesus Christ. Some Christians have unrealistic expectations of themselves, and, when they fail (as we all invariably do), they seek fulfillment in something that is easier to control than life itself. Sometimes, we become illogical and irrational.
Addiction, simply put, is rebellion against God. The addiction itself becomes an idol which consumes our thoughts, guides our behavior, and drains our finances—becoming something on which we base our trust and subsequently our lives.
The bottom line is that addiction has all negative repercussions. It affects our physical health, our mental health, our financial health, our self-image, and our self-esteem; but mostly, it affects our relationship with God. It is for that reason that addictions have to be avoided in the first place. But once we find ourselves trapped, we need to back out of it, stop it, and start avoiding those people, places, or atmospheres that contribute to the addiction.
Here are some suggestions to overcome addictions:
- Confess your problem to someone you trust who can help you stay accountable to God (James 5:16). Talk to someone honestly to see if you do, in fact, have an addiction. Then pray together.
- If it is an addiction to something that impairs your mental abilities, you need to take precautions to keep yourself safe and others around you. If you need to give up the keys to your car, do it. It is for the best interests of all those around you (Matthew 7:12).
- If it is a chemical addiction, get medical help. Get professional help from counselors or Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
- If it is an addiction to some behavior like gambling, shopping, pornography, or even the internet in general like web-surfing or things like Facebook, do what has to be done to stop the behavior. Get rid of the internet or get filtering software and have someone else set passwords. Get rid of credit cards; go to a cash-only basis (Matthew 18:8-9).
- If stress is a trigger to the addictive behavior, do something that keeps you out of such a stressful environment. Fill your life with better, more wholesome activities and friends (Luke 11:21-26).
- As a Christian, recognize that Christ dwells in you and has put to death sins in your heart. Now, you have to live in the light of that sacrifice (Colossians 3:5-6).
Do not get addicted to this world; cling to Christ and let Him fill your life with joy and happiness. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Copyright © 2015 by Paul Holland, in Droplets of Living Water, June 10.