The Bible and Addiction
Dealing with Addiction - Part 2
Let us review what we've learned so far.
- There are addictive substances which are categorized this way for a reason.
- All drugs have an effect on the individual to one degree or another.
- They speed you up making you think you are stronger, faster, smarter, etc.
- They slow you down and make everything feel in control, pleasant, relaxed.
- They change your perception of reality, time and self-awareness.
- Regardless of the drug, addictive substances have various things in common:
- If you take them into your body, you will pay a price which is usually negative (MRI scans show the true negative impact).
- Some medications help solve problems if taken correctly but there are always side effects.
- All recreational drugs have long term negative effects on the person using them.
- Drugs are addictive. This is why they are usually controlled or outlawed.
- An addiction is when your need for the drug is greater than your ability to reject it.
In this chapter we are going to talk more about addictions in general and also see what the Bible teaches on this subject.
The dictionary defines "addiction" as a strong habit, but it doesn't explain how that habit starts and grows.
1. Types of Addictions
There are two groups of addictions:
A. Substance addictions
This is where the substance ingested has an ingredient that creates an addiction in the user. We learned previously that the path to addiction has four stages:
- Learn mood swing
- Seek mood swing
- Dependent on the substance for normalcy
- Addicted to the substance to control the pain caused by the substance.
B. Psychological addictions
These are just as strong but are more complicated to understand. In a psychological addiction there is something about you (the way you think, the experiences you've had) that make ordinary things addictive for you (i.e. Cigarettes have nicotine and anyone who smokes, or chews tobacco become addicted).
Food is not addictive in itself, however, for some people, because of the way they are, food becomes an addiction. They either can't stop eating it or they can't make themselves eat it.
With psychological addictions there are all kinds of things people can be addicted to - T.V., video games, certain kinds of people, shopping, hoarding things, sexual images, etc.
2. Causes of Addiction
There are many reasons why people become addicted psychologically or to substances physically:
A. Substance Addictions
- Curiosity – They want to see what it's like
- Peer pressure – They want to fit in /get talked into it
- Ignorance/Immaturity – They don't believe the danger
- Depression – Unhappiness for some reason or other makes them try drugs to ease the pain (Self-medication).
B. Psychological Addictions
- Self-image – we see ourselves as we really are
- Anger – Repressed angry feelings make us hurt ourselves. Many angry, frustrated people use porn, cutting or burning self as an outlet.
- Low self-esteem – we don't like ourselves, so we lock into addictive behavior
- Fixation – we fixate or hero worship a person or thing and begin a repetitive mode of behavior. For example, a girl who is fixated on a model who is very skinny and tries, to her detriment, to look like her by not eating even though she is built quite differently.
- There are many other triggers for various types of psychological addiction including fear, abuse, depression and confusion to name a few.
3. Steps to Addiction
There are many different types of addictions but the way one becomes addicted is similar. I listed the steps to the psychological process, now we'll examine the personal process.
We take into our bodies a substance that has addictive properties. We eat it, see it with our eyes (porn), smoke it, pick up an emotional habit (in psychological addictions). Any way you do it, an addictive thing gets into you.
Once it's inside (like a virus) it, meaning the chemical or habit, begins to send a signal to your brain that basically says, "Repeat this process because…"
- This feels good
- This works for me
- This solves the problem
When we obey the demands of the substance to repeat the process of ingesting or continuing the habit, the repetition of it makes the virus send another message to the brain, "Continue repeating because…"
- I need this
- I must have this
When the addiction is firmly ingrained and you are ingesting and/or repeating the action as a habit, then the virus sends its final message to the brain, "Continue repeating because…"
- I can't live without this
The goal of the addiction virus is to 1) control you 2) dominate you 3) kill you. People have known this for a long time, this is why addictive drugs are either illegal to possess or controlled by law for medical distribution. Addictions can destroy peoples lives. This is why we must be very careful when handling them medically or completely reject them when offered to us for recreational use.
The Bible and Addiction
As Christians we don't need the Bible to see the danger of addiction because there is plenty of scientific evidence to demonstrate the terrible consequences associated with them. We do, however, need to know about the moral implications regarding the ingestion of things that may lead to addiction, and what the Bible has to say on this topic.
Of course, the Bible doesn't specifically name cigarettes or heroine or other modern addictive substances because these change throughout history, however, what remains the same is the problem of addiction. Human beings have become addicted to drugs, ideas, or people from the moment Adam sinned, therefore, God's Word has dealt with addiction, not just with the things people have become addicted to, throughout history.
The only drug the Bible even mentions is alcohol because it is the oldest. The first time a drug problem is mentioned in the Bible is when Noah gets drunk after leaving the ark. The Bible says that after he left the ark, he planted a vineyard and drank of its wine. As a result he became inebriated and went to sleep in his tent naked. This led to his son, Ham, mocking him and created a problem in his family.
Throughout the Bible the problem of drugs or addiction is dealt with by references to wine because it was the most widely used drug at the time.
What the Bible says about addiction
When the Bible talks about addiction, it's talking about drug and alcohol problems.
"You shall have no other gods before Me."
- Exodus 20:3
Addiction is when some idea or substance controls or dominates you. God says that only He has the right to control and dominate you. Only He can be your God. The reasons for this are simple:
- God is the creator and worthy to be your leader, your God. Drugs are things, part of the earth. A human dominated by God is natural, orderly; a human dominated by a thing is not natural, it's undignified, like a dog walking a man on a leash.
- God wants to lead you to a life of happiness, fulfillment and eternal existence. Addictions lead to pain and death. Taking drugs, etc., violates the first commandment. It's a form of idolatry.
- God gives you life and all you have; He has a right to lead you. Addictions bring nothing but misery and death. Addictions are wrong because you replace God with a "thing".
1Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Romans 12:1-2
The purpose of our lives is to find God, serve God and honor Him with what we say and do. This means when people look at our lives they should be motivated to believe in God themselves or serve God more than before or say to God – you are wonderful if this is the kind of person that represents you. A person who is addicted doesn't motivate anyone towards God, there is nothing spiritual or Godly about someone who is a slave to something they smoke, look at, sniff, eat, think, or do to themselves, etc.
How many of you would take me seriously about anything I said, or how many of you would really make a great effort to become better Christians if you found out that I secretly was a heroin addict? The power of my influence over you for good is based on my ability to give a good example of freedom from addiction.
19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
- I Corinthians 6:19-20
People defend their addictions or experiments with drugs by saying that it's their life or their body, no one can tell them what to do with what belongs to them. The Bible, however, says that the body belongs to God, not us.
- He creates the soul and the body.
- He allows us to be born and come into being.
- He provides all that we need to live.
- He will judge us when we die.
- He will reward or punish us based on how we used every part of our bodies.
Drugs cause addiction and addictions cause loss of power, illness and death. God didn't create our bodies for this kind of usage. Our job is to find out what God wants us to do with our bodies, minds and talents, not to waste our lives on foolish and destructive addictions!
Our bodies are not ours to ruin!
If someone says, "What does the Bible say about drugs?" your answer will be:
1. The Bible is against the use of illegal drugs because that behavior is illegal (Romans 13).
2. The Bible is against the use of illegal or legal drugs, used in the wrong way, because they lead to addiction.
I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
- I Corinthians 9:27
3. The Bible warns us against becoming addicted to anything because:
- It replaces God in the number one position of your life, and this is idolatry.
- Addictive behavior does not honor God and actually pushes people away from faith in God when they observe a person claiming to be a Christian but possessing a full blown addiction.
- Addiction uses the body for short term pleasure that leads to sickness and death. God did not intend for the body to be used in this way.
There is no place in the Bible where you will find a command that says "Thou shall not use any addictive substances." If there were we could not in good conscience drink coffee or eat chocolate because these have caffeine and caffeine can be addictive. Rather, the Bible warns us against the dangers of addiction (calls it drunkenness, the addiction that comes from alcohol abuse); as well as illegal activity that leads to addiction. Science proves how destructive it is and how easy it is to go from experimentation to addiction. The Bible warns against behavior that will lead to addiction and why this will cause us to lose our souls (I Corinthians 6:9).