What Addiction Looks Like
DescriptionAddiction doesn’t always look the way we think it does, it comes in all forms and is seen in all walks of life.
When you think of addiction, you might think of someone rocking themselves in an oblivious state as they experience the high from their drug or drink of choice. But addiction comes in all forms and is seen in all walks of life.
Yes, people can become addicted to drugs and alcohol, but we can also become addicted to work, or a screen (computers, games, TV), or food, or exercise. Social media, selfies, and our phones in general have a tendency to be addictive. Negative thoughts, obsessions, and pornography are all addictive.
An addiction is anything that enslaves you and overcomes your desire for God with a desire for that object or anything other than God that promises to momentarily relieve your feelings and emotions. This post paints a picture of what addiction looks like.
"Addiction Recovery: Part 1" by Alan Wright
Are you ready for some good news?
Addiction is deep rooted, complex and certain to destroy; but in the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is the power of God unto freedom.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15, ESV)
In C.S. Lewis’ opening Narnia chronicle, a white witch has placed a spell on the kingdom causing it always to be winter, but never Christmas. The skeptical, braggadocios, bratty Edmund stumbled not only into Narnia but also into the white witch herself. When the witch realized that Edmund was a human (of which many ancient prophecies had been told), she sought to pry information from the lad. She spoke to him ever so kindly: You look so cold there standing in the snow. Why don’t you come up here in my sleigh?
The naïve brat climbed into the sleigh and she put her fur mantle around him. Wouldn’t you want something hot to drink? she asked, and Edmund said he would very much like that. The witch poured a drop of magic potion in to the snow and in a moment there was a beautiful, shimmering cup of hot, foamy, creamy drink. The witch further lured in the boy: “It is dull, Son of Adam, to drink without eating. What would you like best to eat?”
“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
And so the queen let another drop of the magic potion fall into the snow and there appeared a round box, beautifully decorated, filled with the most delicious treat that Edmund had ever eaten. Every piece was sweet, all the way to the very core.
Once he’d tasted the Turkish Delight, all he could think of was having more. Leveraging the lad’s love of the treat, she convinced him to bring his siblings to her. Folly, betrayal and destruction became the fruit of Edmund’s obsession with Turkish Delight. In the end, of course, the witch fulfilled no promise to the boy – she only used him.
What a clever picture of addiction.
Here’s how I define it: Addiction is a preoccupation that enslaves a person by misdirecting his or her desire for God to a desire for lesser things. At the root of most addiction is deep-seated shame – a lie from hell that tells me I don’t measure up and, therefore, the pressure is on me to make myself acceptable. Desperate to escape the gnawing anxiety that accompanies shame, addictive persons are drawn to anything that momentarily relieves the weighty cloud of shame. The Gospel heals addiction by healing shame. Simply put, when you discover grace, you discover acceptance. When you discover acceptance, addictive forces lighten and freedom is at hand. And that’s the Gospel!
Father, reveal to me what I use to substitute a relationship with You, and give me the courage to learn how to face it.
What do I make most important in my life—to the point of it being more important than God?
Prayerfully consider what is becoming an addiction in your life; be honest with yourself about what you put before God in your life. Make the commitment to yourself to start facing your addiction.
Addiction doesn’t always look the way we think it does. Sometimes it can start out looking like something good, fun, or benign (like Turkish Delight). But it always turns into something that changes you. It will always make you do things you didn’t think you’d do. Sometimes the addiction comes as an external distraction, but often it can come to you as a physical manifestation of a spiritual stronghold. The next post will help you identify and deal with any strongholds you have that may be contributing to your need for an addictive substance.