The Bible teaches us that we when we become a Christian, we are to put off our old way of life. It is easy to feel that when we put our trust in Christ our tendency to sin and crave addictions should be changed. While you are no longer separated from Christ, you still have the tendency to think, feel, and act in sinful ways. The Bible tells us “People are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” (2 Peter 2:19)
But we are given this hope: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22–24)
What is addiction?
Addictions are compulsive behaviors that lead to dependence on somethings. This dependence results in damaging patterns of thinking and behavior.
There are two types of addictions: substance addictions like alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; process addictions like gambling, eating, shopping, etc. Many people struggle with more than one-type of addiction because of the high firing in the brain. The chemical release in the brain causes your body to crave more, which then leads to another addiction or finding another high.
Signs that habits turned into addictions
It is critical to understand the difference between habits and addictions. You control one while the other controls you. Good habits, like exercising regularly, can go from being a positive habit to a compulsive addiction.
How do you know if your habit has gone from a positive, productive habit to a compulsive addiction? Here are 10 signs that your habit has changed to an addiction.
- In the past, have you stopped the habit, only to consistently relapse.
- You are abnormally preoccupied with the habit.
- You continue it even after suffering its negative consequences.
- You are practicing the habit because it changes your mood or comforts you.
- You engage in the habit to achieve the mood-altering experience you had at the beginning.
- You are persisting with the habit even though it is harmful to you.
- You are trying to hide it from those around you.
- You are neglecting relationships in order to accommodate the habit.
- Problems at work are a result of the habit.
- You consider getting help for the habit.
If the above sign describes you then you are on the road to forming an addiction, or you are already fully wrapped in the web of addiction. The best course of action is to seek help, so you gain take control of your life.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
The cycle of addictions
No one wakes up in the morning and decides to form an enslaving addiction. Many develop an addition through repetition of behavior that seems to satisfy a deep desire or meet a neglected need.
Usually, there is a deep pain that you are trying to ease. This leads to attempt to temporarily relieve the emotional or psychological pain. Then you start to participate in these activities on a regular basis. You feel guilt over your actions. Then shame because of your addictions. This creates a present pain and motivates you to find a way to ease it. The cycle begins again.
Ministering to those struggling with addiction
The human heart desires to know God through a loving, personal relationship with Christ. Our addictions often represent an effort to meet the need for love, significance, and security that only God can meet. Many people seek to meet these needs through unhealthy dependencies on people, things, or activities.
Meeting the need for unconditional love: God created you to have a loving, personal relationship with him. “I [the Lord] have love you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
Meeting the need for significance: God created you to find your significance in a relationship with him. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lords, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Meeting the need for security: God created you to be secure in his relationship with you. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Change always takes time. Breaking an addiction is not a quick or easy task. Remember, God is with you every step of the way to help you break an addictive behavior and establish a new habit.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)