Addiction is a condition in which a person continues to engage a substance or behavior for short-term gratification despite detrimental consequences and the compromise of his or her moral code. The American Psychological Association estimates that one in seven Americans suffers from an active addiction. That represents about 50 million people. Some organizations recognize as many as 166 specific addictions, but some of the most common are alcohol, drugs, sex, video games, shopping, gambling and food.
The Addiction Pyramid
There are many theories on the causes of addiction, but this model can be helpful in understanding the genesis of addiction and the process by which it develops into destructive and unwanted behaviors.
Level 1 - Beneath the Surface
Addiction is both a disease and a choice. It is a disease in that addiction usually results from circumstances that were beyond the addict’s choice, while it is a choice in that each time the addict “acts out,” he engages a behavior that he didn’t have to. Three primary factors beneath the surface that cause most addicts to be more vulnerable are: trauma, abuse, and isolation.
Level 2 – Triggers
Some addicts will go months without engaging in addictive behaviors, only to “slip” or “relapse” under certain conditions. These conditions are known as “triggers.” The acronym B.L.A.S.T. is helpful in identifying the primary triggers that make addicts most vulnerable. They are in the danger zone when they are bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or tired.
Level 3 – Behaviors
Once triggered, the addict is susceptible to his pattern of past behavior. He is at risk of repeating his past destructive behaviors until he learns new coping skills which help to rewire the neurological pathways of the brain.
How To Overcome
With the help of God and skilled professionals, an addict can become well. In John 5:1-15 we read the classic story of how God heals the sick. In the story of the paralytic, who was healed after an illness of 38 years, we see the four components to overcoming addiction.
1. You Must be Desperate.
Before healing the man, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?” (John 5:6). This was a question of intensity. “How bad do you want it?” If you are 90% in, you’re 100% out. To overcome an addiction requires total desperation.
2. You Must Surrender to God.
Jesus told the man to pick up his mat (John 5:8). This made no sense to a man who could not walk. But it is when we do the improbable that God does the impossible. We must surrender completely to Him.
3. Someone Needs to Know.
One study showed that only one in 10,000 overcomes addiction in isolation. Someone needs to know – a spouse, friend, counselor, or addiction specialist. Addiction cripples, but secrets kill.
4. You Need Community.
Not long after the paralytic was healed, “Jesus found him at the temple” (John 5:14). In other words, the man went to church! We need community. That’s why Fellowship Church is intentional in creating ways to get involved for every age and stage in life!
Though the journey toward sobriety isn’t easy, you are not alone. As you look to God and lean on others around you, He will give you the strength for the journey.