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Breaking Addictions

When I saw Randy, he appeared to be at death’s door. After a long embrace I looked into his eyes, which were sunk way back into his head. I watched tears welling up. He told me how good I looked, and how proud he felt that I was clean and sober. I looked him squarely in the eyes and said, “Randy, you don’t have to live like this.” He responded with a perplexed look, cocked his head a little and asked, “I don’t?” No one had ever told Randy that before. My old friend who did drugs with me, who had abused substances his entire adult life—like my wife and me—knew no other way.

But here’s good news. No one has to live with an overpowering addiction. My wife and I broke free after 25 years—and so can you.

Some people spend their lives in a long search for pain relief. The pain and the relief come in many emotional and physical forms. Believe it or not, an addiction is often used as a coping mechanism. People use addictions to get through life. They come in two varieties: substance abuse and people abuse, better known as substance addictions and behavioral addictions.

Substances most commonly abused are marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, as well as prescription painkillers. Behavioral addictions are much broader and more complex. They manifest themselves in a variety of ways ranging from gambling to anger, sexual addictions, jealousy, gossiping, media addictions, food addictions, overwork, or any other type of behavior that people use to escape reality.

Problems From the Start

Often, the origins of addictions can be found in childhood. Although you were not aware of it, during the early years of your life, your brain was developing its own equipment and chemicals that were going to allow you to deal with life and its ups and downs. If this equipment did not develop to its full potential for whatever reason (physical abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and so on), you would find yourself searching for other ways to cope with life.

You may be in one of these situations right now, unknowingly trying to deal with scars and emotional distress from the past. You may search for pain relief in a behavior or use a substance that you know is not good for you, yet nothing else brings relief. You say in your heart, how can anyone take this away from me? It’s the only way that I can deal with life. Sometimes you can’t even identify the pain and the problems that you’re running from, and that is exactly what makes this kind of addiction so hard to break.

Sometimes addiction results from simply fostering your natural human lusts. The Bible says that “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). The Bible describes someone in this apparently hopeless condition as a slave, “caught in the cords of his sin” (John 8:34; Romans 6:16; Proverbs 5:22).

These addictions often seem to be a hopeless situation, and believe me friend, I have been there. Your addiction is the habit that controls you; you don’t control it. The habit tells you