Dealing with Addictions
How to conquer an addition
Prayer alone is not 'enough' for many.
So, why is it many people pray for the cravings to be taken away and nothing happens? Why isn't just claiming a Bible promise and praying for deliverance the answer to all addictions? Not an easy question to answer but we can shed some light on it. Power of choice. God protects our power of choice to such a degree that we should see how important freedom really is. One of the most common themes of action and sci fi movies is control verse freedom. It's hard wired into our brains. We value freedom of choice because it makes us who we are. God can't simply take away our power of choice. But why doesn't He take the 'desire' for harmful things? I can't answer that. Sometimes God does take away the desire instantly other times we struggle with it for years before it fades. We do know God will not allow us to be overwhelmed when we put our trust in Him. "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV.
Seven Steps to Breaking Your Addiction
1) Acknowledge you need help.
Coming to the realization you want to change is the very first step in making a change. No one can make you choose but what if you feel like you don't have the power to change or choose for yourself? Acknowledge you don't have the strength on your own to overcome this addiction. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." Jeremiah 13:23, KJV. Reach out to God for support He CAN and WILL guide, protect, support, and sustain you.
2) Search for what is motivating your behavior and choices.
Why do you do it? To numb anxiety, bear grief, squelch guilt, ease pain, or deal with stress? Does it help you ignore something you don't want to deal with or can't control? Does it drowned out your own self-condemnation? Understanding ourselves can be a difficult and painful process but it is very necessary. Journaling can help with this step or even just writing a letter to yourself, to someone who has hurt you, etc. What is driving you to make the harmful choices needs to be identify so you can learn to cope. But fear not there is help. "Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7, ESV.
3) Get rid of stinking thinking.
Negative thoughts about yourself and/or your addiction will NOT help you but of course neither will ignoring it. Your thoughts are very powerful and if you stop the process before it starts on the downward slide, you will gain a tremendous victory. Click HERE to download an information sheet on dealing with your own though. If you can't get through the day without your vice (addictive behavior), you may need to count on others to help you think rationally. Find a counselor who is well versed in Cognitive Behavior Therapy or join a 12-step program or other support group. Even going to church can be enough to help you gain the support you need. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8. A great FREE resource for how your brain works watch these videos or listen to the MP3 by leading Psychiatrist T.M. Jennings.
4) Identify triggers.
Triggers for your addiction can be a certain time of day, a particular place, or a circumstance - like certain stressors. This doesn't mean you can avoid all stress, pain, and troubles but you can learn to cope with the ones you can't avoid and you can see the trigger coming before the overwhelming desire for that addictive behavior takes control. Once you see it coming you can use CBT (see the info sheet above on thoughts) to sure up your new choice to be free. Tips for dealing with stress can be found in this pamphlet - download it free here. Of course, which you can only partly control the triggers, you CAN avoid the addictive substance if it is physical like drugs, smoking, or alcohol. Don't buy it, don't have it in your home, and as far as possible don't go around it. "And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." Matthew 5:30, NIV. Again you may need to make hard choices to change your patterns as mention above but it will be WORTH IT!!! You can have control over your life. "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13, ESV. This step prepares you for the next but really both steps MUST be done together!
5) Create NEW habits.
People don't break bad habits, they replace them with new ones. . First make new patterns, schedules, choices, etc. to avoid your triggers as much as possible. It can be as simple as moving your furniture around and walking a different way to work to as life changing as finding a new job or hobbies. Pray for guidance God is there to help. Simpler, instant alternatives when the cravings hit include breathing exercises, reading the Bible, repeating a scripture promise, prayer, or other meditation or relaxation techniques. Physical exercise can be EVERY effective. Not only is it hard to drink or smoke or eat while running (fast walking), but exercise helps you physically feel better. It is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle for both mind and body. "To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24, ESV.
6) Don't 'give in' but if you do don't 'give up'!
Abstaining is the most effective way to conquer any addiction. For some habits this is easier than others. And if you do fail, remember every time to make a positive choice you are creating a new pattern of thought, a new habit. That new habit takes time to grow stronger than the old one. Neuropathways never completely go away (without a miracle) but the new one can become so strong the old one fades so eventually it is as if it never existed. "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;" 1 John 2:1, NASB.
7) Get a support system.
Get a buddy! Find someone who will will not only support you, but is willing to be firm with you and tell you the truth. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten:" Revelation 3:19, KJV. You may also need community help or a support group. See below for more.
The 12 step or OTHER programs specific to an addiction need.
A twelve-step program is a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for tackling problems including alcoholism, drug addiction, and compulsion. Originally Alcoholics Anonymous, the method was so successful it was adapted and became the foundation of other twelve-step programs.
The key to making the program work is following ALL the steps and not just use it like a chat room sympathy group. The twelve steps are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (or other addiction) —that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics (others with the same struggles), and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
To find a group near you (they are found everywhere even in small towns) open your local paper or visit your chamber of commerce or visitor info center in your area to find a 12 step program in your area. This program has been an effective program for over 75 years!