Reversing the Grip of Addiction

Can we redirect the power of our obsessions into something good?

Ask any child of an alcoholic or drug abuser and they will tell you—addictions are ugly. As a firsthand witness of my mother’s struggle as a child, I will tell you the same. It was painful to see how addiction consumed her life and it was hard to be around her when she was in the thick of it. She fought hard, and sometimes her strength came through, but I never knew what type of mood or mindset she would be in. Her instability negatively affected not only her life, but the lives of those around her.

Immediately from birth, life is a shocker. We develop and grow, but there remains a natural human inclination to reach out to anything substantial, to stabilize us and lend us support. For some people, this innate need can turn into a full-blown addiction. In fact, 16 percent of the U.S. population is dependent on alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs.

Addiction has both a personal and national effect. It is a disease that runs its course in the brain, and a new report shows that substance abuse beat out obesity as the number one health problem in America. It is also America's number one healthcare cost, claiming approximately 30 percent of our federal and state healthcare spending.

Many of us do not even realize we suffer from addiction, or we live in denial, but an addiction can still consume and drain us even if we do not acknowledge it. Sadly, the very attempt to gain stability can actually tip our lives into a dangerous imbalance. The overly consuming nature of addiction can take over the minds of addicts, and destroy their lives.

A Surface Cure for a Deeper Problem

But not all addiction is chemically based. We also hold dependencies on things that might not necessarily be negative such as sex, food or social media. But for all the social media junkies out there, America has a bigger problem than our Facebook obsession. With new media and technology advancement, it’s now easier to become addicted to the approval of others. Addictions stem from the need to be satiated and to feel whole or complete, which can be superficially fulfilled with a simple Facebook “like” or admiring blog comment. No matter the substance, the root of addiction is the same: to fill or to meet personal inadequacies. Often an addiction is used as a substitute to avoid having to face a deeper issue.

Given all the studies, there is only one “addiction” that has never produced any negative results.

The obsessive tendency in America abounds, but what if there is such a thing as a good addiction? Is it possible that an addiction could be more productive than consumptive?

A Different Kind of Substance

Given all the studies, there is only one “addiction” that has never produced any negative results. The side effects are more beneficial than terminal, and it actually increases focus rather than inhibiting it.

Perhaps the most controversial dependency of all, the Bible calls faith “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). There may a stigma attached to it at times, but faith is the most captivating power on earth.

Faith is a stimulant, producing with the Holy Spirit the side effects of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). Faith is grown by passing the word; it is more powerful when it is lit with passion. It is life-changing for those who receive it. It empowers us to overcome, instead of going under. And many of us can speak of the medicinal quality of joy and laughter.

Choosing Better Habits

Addictive tendencies can result from suppressed passion, so activate your faith and allow it to stimulate your life. Stay busy, and feed those activities that drive your passion. We are all given something that we’re good at and love. Choose something that creates a positive and productive effect in your life, and go for it. Keep your hands and your mind busy. Actively pursue your passion, instead of waiting for it to come to you.

Also, keep in mind that faith is based in trust. Just like the good force behind every AA meeting, support is essential, and you are never alone. There is someone in your corner you can always turn to. Even if our parents are not physically or even mentally there, we have a Father who loves us. He knows all, sees all and cares immensely.

When I was eighteen, my mother lost her life battling a drug addiction, and I will miss having her as an active part of my life because of it. I know all too well the toxic toll an addiction can take on a life, but I also know what it means to be whole because of faith. The greatest substance I know of is faith in Christ—the true remedy for any void we try to fill through an addiction.

5 Comments

85,157

Anonymous commented…

Thank you for writing on this tough topic, and for having the courage to speak from your own experience. May I add a professional comment? I agree with what you wrote here, and in the importance of God's influence on helping us overcome addictions. My concern is that it can carry with it a dangerous implication that creates huge amounts of shame for Christians who are also struggling with addictions; that faith & trust in God alone will cure your addiction. (Not implying that you're being that simplistic, but some could infer as much) Therefore, if your addiction remains, then your faith must not be strong enough, good enough or sincere enough. This can actually increase the power of the addiction as it feeds into the Shame Cycle which supports addictive behaviors. We should turn to God, seek his support and help; but we also need to seek healing through professional sources, to identify the hidden hurts and needs that are driving the addictive cycle and to break it, inviting God into the healing and redemptive process.

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Chris commented…

@facebook-55301268:disqus did she say "faith and trust in God alone will cure your addiction"? No. she did'nt. Who exactlyare the some that could infer as much? Clearly this peice does not insinuate that if you actually have a negative addiction that it's shameful. It is a testament to the benefits of faith.If you have personal issues with your faith that you feel it's not strong enough continue toseek guidance. This article does not feed into the shame cycle because "your" concern (as stated) is not mentioned in the actual article. Anyone who suffers from a negative addiction should defintely also seek support from professional sources, as well as the savior. Thank you for your correspondence.

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Anonymous commented…

One caveat I would add is to make sure that you surround yourself with people of faith and a church that are properly grounded in scripture. Someone very close to me went to a church that was WAY out of balance in a LOT of areas. The church she was associated with wasn't really equipped or prepared to handle her "addiction to God". And "Addiction to God" is probably the best way to describe her mental state. To be completely honest, I have to say that this particular church chewed her up & spit her out when she was no longer useful & became "inconvenient". As such, it threw her into a crisis of faith to such a extent that she ended up taking her own life. I think that Shane is right on the money about seeking professional, as well as spiritual help...& I take his comment for the cautionary warning that I'm sure he meant it to be. I've seen first-hand what an "addiction to faith" can lead to...and there's nothing to be ashamed of by asking for help.

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Thepadre33 commented…

The sad truth today is that "The Church" is just as sick as most addicts...... this is a very difficult issue. I am a recovering alcoholic and I can tell you the church can drive addicts back into active addiction just as quickly as other stimulus. There is a very high percentage of people in recovery who still harbor fear of God inspired by overbearing Christians. I will tell you that "God did for me what I could not do for myself" but I needed love and encouragement from others who had walked the same road as I have. I trusted them and wanted the peace that they had. Humility is the key.

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Anonymous commented…

The church knows where to go for healing however: http://www.breathoflifedaily.c...

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