Addictions come in many forms, such as, alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, and pornography. Addiction happens when we have a compulsive, repetitive desire for a certain thing and we act on the impulse. Nothing else will do until the craving we are after is fulfilled.
Have you ever noticed how people go to great lengths to obtain their addiction? Why, you might ask?
Every time we fulfill that desire for our addiction it changes pathways in our brain for pleasure. In other words, the pleasure chemical dopamine is released every time we go after our addiction. In essence we become addicted to the release of feel-good dopamine, but the problem is we need more of whatever we are addicted to each time to have the same initial “high” we got the first time. That is the craziness of addiction, you will never get the same feeling you got the first time you watched pornography, got high from a joint or won money gambling.
I come from a family of addicts, mainly drugs and alcohol. I have endured these same addictions, but have found the way out of the trap. I use the word trap to describe what addiction is like. You never mean for it to last as long as it does, but when you try to get free from it, you are pulled back. Some addictions are a result of genetic predisposition. That is why you see alcoholism run in families. No matter how the addiction formed, the enemy is always pushing you to stay in it.
Because addiction destroys families, careers, and ultimately the enemy wants the addiction to kill you. The enemy will initially show you fun times and pleasure with your addiction, but it fades as you realize you can’t get out. Addiction will turn you into a liar, a cheat and a thief. This all makes the enemy very happy, while it grieves the Lord. We cannot be all that God wants us to be chasing after our “idols” of addiction (an idol is anything you place higher than Christ).
The cycle of addicting can be broken, but only through the help of Jesus Christ. Self-help groups or your own strength is not sufficient to beat addiction.
Tips on breaking free from addiction:
- Ask Jesus for His help. This cannot be underestimated. Nothing can break the chain of addiction long-term like Jesus can. He can set the captives free from addiction.
- Get rid immediately of ALL that represents your addiction, such as if you are addicted to alcohol get rid of all alcohol in your home and wine glasses; if you are addicted to food, get rid of the foods that cause you to emotionally eat.
- Change your friendships, or at least the ones who encourage your appetite for addiction. For example, I was in a Christian ministry group where many of the members drank alcohol and spoke of drinking often. Even though, I enjoyed them and they are Christians, I had to part ways with them to stay sober. I don’t judge what THEY do, but as for me, it whets my appetite to want to drink when I hear about their drinking. I began to “lust” after what they were doing.
- Change where you go and what you do. If you are addicted to gambling, don’t go to the casino just to eat or play one round of blackjack. Since I had a strong addiction to alcohol, I no longer eat in restaurants that serve alcohol.
- Prayer is a powerful weapon against the strategies of the enemy that could cause us to stumble. Take the time to listen to God as well, He will let you know insights such as, “Don’t go there,” or “It is not good to hang around that person for it might cause you to be hindered.”
- Read the Word daily and meditate on the Word. Let the Word renew your mind that has been darkened by addiction.
- Find a healthy activity to replace your addiction. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress, but it also increases the pleasure chemical dopamine in our brains.
- Tell someone about your struggles. Find someone you trust and become accountable to them.
- If you need additional help such as a detox program for drugs/alcohol or a Christ-centered recovery program like Celebrate Recovery, get the help necessary.
- Journal and begin asking the Lord to uncover the “roots” of why you are addicted. Most people become addicted to something as they are trying to fill a void in their lives and numb themselves from pain. Get to the root!
- Be mindful of stressful times that can heighten your desire for the addiction. Stress is a precursor or warning flag that you need to heed lest you fall into your addiction again.
You can break free from whatever addiction masters you, but only with the aid of Jesus Christ. Don’t try and go it alone. It usually takes 21-30 days to form a habit or break a habit. The first 30 days will be the hardest, and thereafter you will still need to be guarded by knowing your triggers. Never think or believe, “I got this and I can do whatever I want.” For instance, if I begin to believe that because I have not had alcohol in a long time and now I can go to a nightclub or bar, I could set myself up to fail. The enemy knows your weakest points, and trust me he will exploit them at any chance he gets. If you are tired, stressed, sick, or even feel you “got this,” beware! The enemy looks for opportune times to get us to sin.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with temptation He will also provide a way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
What has been helpful to you in breaking free from addiction? Please share to help others