Addiction is a serious, chronic disease with far-reaching consequences for you and your relationships with your loved ones. It also affects your body and brain physically, with both short-term and long-term consequences.
As you or someone you know may be struggling with long term addiction, whether alcoholism or recreational or prescription drug abuse, the Bible gives a source of light in what can only be described as an otherwise dark and lonely world. Many have struggled to find sobriety (to be sober) and many have received a helping hand through their own spirituality with a personal connection to Jesus Christ.
How addiction affects your brain
The brain regulates important life-sustaining functions, like thought, memory, emotion, touch, motor skills, vision, breathing, temperature, hunger, and every process that regulates our body. It allows you to interpret all the sensory impressions you are constantly picking up. These factors all influence your behaviour. Drug and alcohol use has a tremendous effect on the brain and severely diminishes your brain’s ability to perform these important functions.
There is a part of the brain that contains the “pleasure centre”. It controls and regulates our ability to experience pleasure. When activities are pleasurable, we tend to repeat them. This system is stimulated by healthy, positive activities, such as eating, exercising, and spending time with family and friends.
Drugs affect the way the brain normally sends, receives, and processes information. Some drugs activate the “pleasure centres” in the brain by “fooling” the brain’s receptors and attaching onto cells in the brain. They mimic the action of the brain’s natural chemicals but don’t activate the brain in the same manner as its natural messengers.
When addictive drugs are taken, they release much more dopamine than the brain can produce on its own. Most addictive drugs give off these effects and are felt almost immediately. They also last longer than the pleasure felt by natural means. This reward can be so powerful that it motivates users to repeat the experience, over and over and over again.
God is love
God’s love for us burns so strong, so hot, so brightly. You just have to read the word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18), to know and to feel His unconditional love. He loves us so much, that even though we fail Him daily, He sent His Son, the light of the world, to die for sin our place. When Christ ascended into heaven, God loved us so much, that He didn’t leave us alone – He left us a helper, a comforter, a guide, The Holy Spirit, to be with us through everything, including addiction.
God loves us so much that He wants the best for us. Yes, sometimes He takes us on difficult paths to reach and become the best He wants us to be, such as experiencing drug or alcohol addiction, but ultimately His agape (unconditional) love will win. The bible promises that God is always with us. Through our faith in God we will receive help when we are weak, God will forgive our sins and heal our hearts. In the darkness of addiction, we shut ourselves out from the rest of the world. When we lead a lifestyle controlled by alcohol or drugs, we avoid our family, our friends, we struggle to find pleasure in anything and we ultimately disconnect ourselves from God’s unconditional love.
People struggling with addiction or are in recovery have been greatly helped by a the higher power, by having a personal relationship to God a relationship with boundless benefits such as forgiveness, healing and hope. This personal relationship can give a person the motivation to stay on track towards recovery and sober living. Once they surrender themselves to God, they can find their commitment to real recovery. This experience is exemplary of various biblical scriptures that anyone battling drug abuse and addiction can relate to.
1 Corinthians 6:11-13 – 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
Although this passage of scripture relates specifically to sexual temptation and sexual immorality, you can apply the greater psychological concept towards any form of negative temptation. You may have the lawful right, for example, to consume any substance you could imagine but not all things are helpful to you. Other things like alcohol or rugs have the ability to dominate you and turn you into someone who you truly are not. Paul seems to preach moderation here but the point is that while all things could be legal, not all are beneficial to you. Ultimately, you should not allow yourself to become a slave to your own personal liberties.
Addiction and your Life
Once an addiction to alcohol or drugs takes hold of you, it becomes the main priority in your life. If you are addicted to drugs, you would find yourself spending more time and money acquiring and using your drug of choice. This means you would have less time for activities you used to enjoy, such as sports, reading, watching movies, spending meaningful and memorable time with family and friends and other hobbies. You may even start to staying away from family events and beg off from plans you had previously made with your family to get high and be alone. It also gets more difficult to keep up your regular schedule and keep your addiction fed; you will need time to recover from being high.
The addiction will also take a toll on your work or school life. Your attendance to wor and work performance will suffer since your full attention will not be on your employment duties or studies.
Alcohol and drug use to the point of intoxication puts you at increased risk of injury, both at home and on the job. You are also at increased risk of being involved in a car accident, which could lead to serious injuries to yourself or others.
Bad company destroys good character
1 Corinthians 15:32-34 – 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
The moments in life where we find ourselves swayed by bad influences are always much easier to identify in hindsight. We are always vulnerable in life and our experience reacting to these vulnerabilities can potentially make us stronger or weaker. Here, Paul warned about false teachers leading people astray from the teachings of Jesus Christ. But this is pertinent to patients in struggling with drug abuse too – as addicts may have been led astray by their dark lifestyle that surrounded them during their period of substance abuse.
How Addiction Affects your Family
Addiction isn’t just a disease that affects you personally. It also takes a toll on your entire family.
Since addiction leads to irresistible cravings and urges to use to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms, people who are addicted make substances their priority. They no longer have a choice in the matter.
Even though it may not seem like something you would normally do but if you are addicted you would likely find yourself lying to your family members about whether you are using and how much you are using. You may take money that is earmarked for paying bills and use it to support your addiction.
These types of actions destroy the trust built up between you and your family members, leading to increased conflict. Over time, relationships between you and your family will suffer due to multiple occurrences of lies, half-truths, and broken promises.
Once trust has been broken, it’s very difficult to rebuild it.
Someone who is living with an addiction can start to find their way back by seeking professional help at a drug a treatment centre. Long-term recovery and sobriety is possible with individualised addiction treatment. Just stick with the treatment and you will reap the benefits of been drug free.
Break the addiction
You may be seeking professional help for the first time or you may need to seek professional help again – either way, you do need professional help, preferably in a medically controlled environment. That way you have professionals giving you the tools, methods and techniques and appropriate medication to help you break the addiction.
Please – professional and medically controlled help is so important. Start it, finish it, and stick with it.
Most importantly, take God with you. Keep His Word with you at all times. His love, His grace, His forgiveness will be the ultimate help you will receive.
Pray Pray Pray
Prayer is the most powerful weapon, the most powerful connection you have with the Father. Pray through your journey to recovery and you will succeed.
James 5:15-16 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
For anyone in recovery, hope is a cornerstone in the path towards sobriety. This verse is a reminder that God can heal you, forgive you and give you the strength to carry on. When you are going through drug rehab, the temptation can seemingly lurk around every corner. While attending a rehab centre, God’s Word reminds us to be honest and good in personal character.
Through God’s watchful eye, we can maintain constant vigilance to keep us in the light and away from the darkness. Jesus is the light of the world.
Rejoice in your sufferings
Romans 5:3-5 – More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Everyone in this world will experience trials and tribulations. God knows that we can become stronger through conflict. God’s ultimate love is our redemption from the suffering we experience as we navigate through the difficult times in our lives. Our moment of rejoicing comes when we realise that no matter how bad our lives are, no matter how long we were addicted, there is always hope and a chance for a new life. God’s love is always there and we can find hope, courage and strength throughout our recovery if we remember this one simple fact.