“I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” – Romans 7:24-25, MSG

Photo by Tony Rojas on Unsplash

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a substance or indulging in an activity, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. It is an inclination towards a habit or thing that has the capacity to jeopardize one’s life. Addiction can either be to a substance, such as tobacco, cocaine, alcohol, or other illicit drugs, or it can be behavioral, such as gambling, sex, pornography, masturbation, etc. Addiction is synonymous with enslavement, abnormal craving for a thing, and uncontrolled dependence on that which is harmful to a person spiritually, physically, and psychologically.

The Prevalence of Addiction

According to statistics, 90% of people who have an addiction started to drink alcohol or use drugs before they were 18 years old. Every year, worldwide, alcohol is said to be the cause of 5.3% of deaths or 1 in every 20 deaths. Alcohol and drug addictions cost the US economy over $600 billion every year. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes reports that around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018, which is 30% more than in 2009, while over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders. In 2015, substance-attributable mortality rates were highest for tobacco smoking (110.7 deaths per 100,000 people), followed by alcohol and illicit drugs (33.0 and 6.9 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively). The worrisome trends in behavioral and substance addiction, especially among young people are a threat to the future of many young people.  

Symptoms of Addiction

Even though addiction varies, its symptoms are the same and devastating. The following are some symptoms of addiction.

  • Mental and psychological disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling of insecurity
  • Self-isolation and separation from loved ones
  • High suicidal and murder tendency
  • Inhumane, without human feeling when high on substances or hard drug
  • Restlessness and sleeplessness
  • Continuous guilt and a feeling of shame  
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • An uncontrolled urge for the abused substance or chronic obsessive sexual thoughts and fantasies

Causes and Effects of Addiction

Addiction of any kind has a myriad of causes which includes; bad company (negative influence), family background, low self-esteem, depression, curiosity to experiment with the wrong thing, a victim of abuse, etc. Substance or behavioral abuse has the capacity to alter an individual’s way of life, causing setbacks in every area of life and leading to wretchedness. Studies reveal that like drug or alcohol dependence, sex addiction has the potential to negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health, personal relationships, quality of life, and safety. The Bible summarizes the effects of addiction (even though for alcohol, it is attributable to all forms of addiction) below:

“Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It’s those who spend the night with a bottle, for whom drinking is a serious business. Don’t let the sparkle and smooth taste of wine deceive you. For in the end it bites like a poisonous serpent; it stings like a viper. You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up?” – Proverbs 23:29-35. 

Breaking Free from Addiction

What is the way out of addiction? Addiction of any kind is a sin and can be broken if its victim is willing and determined. The following are useful recommendations that will help in breaking free from addiction.

  • Acknowledge and express your need for help to the appropriate persons or party, e.g. family, church, trusted and responsible friends, etc.
  • Be open and sincere in your quest for recovery.
  • Do not pass blame, but accept responsibility for your situation as you trust God for a change.
  • Confess and accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour, and be rest assured of the unconditional love of God for you.
  • Put away all addiction materials such as pornographic content on your mobile device or CDs.
  • Stay away from friends and places that incite you into behavioral or substance addiction.
  • Submit to counseling by Spirit-filled counselors.
  • Be prayerful and continually renew your mind with the Word of God.
  • Get a reliable accountability partner, and report every progress made and setbacks encountered.
  • Put the past behind you, never stay down after a fall, and do not be discouraged; rather, be determined to make the most of your life because a journey of a thousand miles begins with a step.
  • Celebrate every win by being grateful to God.
  • In your celebration, be determined to make further progress.
  • Be very consistent with your healing process until victory is finally established.

The above list is not exhaustive but is helpful in gaining freedom from addiction. Addiction is a taskmaster and Satan’s weapon to keep his captive in perpetual bondage. The Word of the Lord stands true, even for all victims of addiction; “In that day the LORD will end the bondage of his people. He will break the yoke of slavery and lift it from their shoulders” – Isaiah 10:27.

Excerpts from Agents of Change Singles Forum Discussion compiled by Abraham Ogenyi