From the beginning of recorded history men and women have become entrapped by vices that eventually become habits that lead to addictions. When a child comes into the world, that child is born with certain drives which are vital for survival. The strongest of them is the desire for food and water. As we grow older, emotional drives include the need for community and relating to each other. You will never find a hermit living alone or secluded who at some point in his life wasn’t wounded emotionally.
Question: How does an addiction differ from a physical or emotional drive? First, an addiction is a thirst which, if denied, has devastating physical consequences. You can go without food or water for several days without harm, but when you are addicted and denied the drugs or the source of your addiction, you suffer. The second differentiating mark is that an addiction is something you cannot control; it controls you. And third, an addiction is something that is generally harmful to your mind, your body, your relationships, and/or your spiritual life.
The experts say that addictions are on the increase today as the result of the stress confronting us, the disarray of relationships, and the visual stimulation of our senses which produces an unreal sort of existence. Initially, those who become hooked on an addiction, whether it is to porn, drugs, or alcohol, live in denial. “Sure, I can handle this,” people say.” But the reality is that they don’t and won’t admit that they can’t. They turn to their addiction because they are not able to resist.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
How do you break out of an addiction? The following guidelines can help you break through your bondage.
Guideline #1: Come to grips with reality.
As painful as it may be, you need to admit that you are hooked–addicted is a more descriptive word. Denial is deadly. You also need to acknowledge that your habit is detrimental to your life and those who love you. Long ago James wrote, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17, NKJV). Society may call it a moral lapse, a mistake, or a failure, but God calls it to sin. The good news, however, is there is help and hope for those who confess their sin and forsake it.
Guideline #2: Be willing to get help or allow others to help you.
If you were capable of shutting off your habit, you wouldn’t be addicted to it. Talking to your pastor, to a trusted friend, or a counselor is a positive step.
Guideline #3: Be accountable.
When James wrote in the New Testament book that bears his name that we are to confess our faults one to another, he wasn’t suggesting that you broadcast your failure, but he does mean that you become willing to let someone look you in the eye and ask you the tough questions, the ones that you would prefer not facing. If your husband or wife talks with you about weakness in his life or character, don’t turn your back on him and walk away. Rather be the encourager who helps him get unhooked and be a better husband, father, or friend. You can be a positive influence that can make a difference.
Guideline #4: Trust God for the strength you lack.
There is divine strength for your weakness, forgiveness for your failure, His help for your need, and His grace for you to overcome. The God of all hope still sets the captive free and delights in doing so. That’s the most satisfying solution to our deepest needs.
Resource reading: Romans 8:26,27