This is the first article in our new series on addiction. In this series, our counselors are sharing how everyone can understand, overcome, and find freedom from addiction.
What image comes to mind when you hear the word “addict?”
You may picture an addict as homeless and strung out, an alcoholic craving his next drink, or a teen who can’t focus on anything but screens. However, addiction is a much more common experience.
Addictions can be related to food, shopping, substances, technology, sexual desires, relationships, work, and more.
In some ways, all of us are tempted towards addictive experiences.
For some, addictive experiences become stronger and stronger to the point where they seemingly control their thoughts, actions, and priorities. It’s at this point when addictions can lead to hopelessness, or what the Bible often refers to as despair.
Not every addict gets to the point of hopeless despair, but all addicts experience serious frustration. Virtually every addict wishes for peace, rest, and a free future.
There are no easy answers for addiction because addiction is not an easy experience. But our faith does help us understand the experience of addiction and offers more strategies to overcome the practice of addiction than you may have realized.
There is hope for addicts because God cares for addicts.
God’s character, the way He really is, offers hope when we truly understand it. This article lays out three attributes of God that help us better understand how He helps with the battle of addiction.
1. God Is Wise – He offers you wisdom for a better life.
Every addict comes to a point where they realize that they’ve been tricked. Their experience no longer delivers the reward that once looked promising.
The Bible paints the battle with addiction as a battle of wisdom versus foolishness. The addict is living a life where the desired experience of addiction has become primary. They want relief so badly, that they fall for the same trick over and over, until it becomes a habit that their body relies upon to function day-to-day.
In many addiction recovery programs, the first step describes it as “unmanageable,” but the Bible takes it even further. Rather than turning to God for wisdom, the addict has chosen a path that’s led them to foolishness.
Proverbs 12:15 describes the experience like this, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” The addict keeps falling for the same trick, often failing to recognize that it’s their own eyes that are failing them. Rather than seeking and trusting the wisdom of God about how to deal with the desires and struggles of life, they choose the path that seems right in their own eyes.
This can often lead to the tragic results described in Proverbs 13:13, “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.”
Addicts can find hope when they come to realize that God desires to give wisdom to those who humbly seek it. I love the way the Bible describes this in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
There is hope because God is wise. He desires to help everyone find wisdom if they are willing to seek Him.
2. God Is Trustworthy – He offers you opportunities to succeed.
Almost universally, addicts share personal stories of deep hurt and pain. They often feel betrayed, used, and unwelcome in many of their relationships. Sometimes their relational pain started at a young age, and for others, it evolved over time. Either way, most addicts find it hard to trust others.
One of the most beautiful descriptions of God comes in Lamentations 3:22–23 “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
The bondage of addiction (the lived experience) often leads the addict to curse every morning. They view it as the necessity of living another day in pain. In reality, every morning God extends His mercy again. He offers you a fresh start every day.
This raises an interesting question: “If God is trustworthy, why doesn’t He just take this pain away from me? Why can’t He show His faithfulness by giving me what I want?”
A really interesting answer to this dilemma is shared in 1 Corinthians 10:13. “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.”
God is faithful in giving us a fresh start, the option to choose a new path, and an escape from our temptations and foolishness. It’s up to us to take the way of escape. Learning how to overcome addiction will require individuals to find the escape paths that are most likely to lead to freedom.
3. God Is Forgiving – He offers you forgiveness to restore.
In the past, I’ve been on the phone with a concerned family member who can’t locate an addict they love. They know the routine – the scenario has played out far too often. An addict will often hide in shame long after the thrill of the experience has worn off – fearing what comes next. A child may sleep in the car, a spouse might turn off their phone, an employee may never return again – all because of shame.
God paints a different picture about His heart to those caught in the bondage of sin.
Matthew 9:10–13 says “And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and His disciples.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But when He heard it, He said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
God doesn’t demand that you pay for your sins before you can return to Him. God invites you to draw near to Him and receive the forgiveness of sins that He offers. He paid the sacrifice so we didn’t have to.
Too often, addicts live in shame, because they are convinced that they must prove to God they are sorry and clean up their act before God will accept them. They hide because God must be angry or at least terribly disappointed. God paints the picture differently- He is moving towards you.
The Bible says that God “despises shame” but endured our shame by dying on the cross for us. He offers the answer to our shame: forgiveness of sins for everyone.
In the series ahead, we want to help addicts better understand and respond to the experience of addiction. Several of our counselors will be sharing stories about how God took them from addiction to freedom in Christ. We also hope to educate others on how to wisely respond and help those struggling with addictive habits. We hope you see more of His heart and plan for you through this series.
There is hope for addicts because God cares for addicts.