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The Face of Addiction - Part 2
Clarifying Our Definition of Addiction
In Part One of this series we used for our working definition of addiction - "When that which we sought to control begins to control us."We used the following definition for addict - A person who is confirmed in a habit; to apply or devote oneself to a habit or practice, usually harmful.
We must also look at what addiction is not. Addiction is not a disease. We must call it what it is - sin. Addiction is a progressive state of sin contrary to Colossians 3:9 and 10 - " Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Certainly addiction can lead to disease, but the addiction itself is not a disease. An addiction to cigarettes may lead to lung cancer. An alcohol addiction can cause liver disease. Sex addicts may end up on the wrong side of AIDES. A person's addiction may be responsible for causing a disease, but the addiction, the compulsion, is not a disease.
Sin? Yes, sin. If an addict is true to himself (which by definition is almost always impossible) he would have to admit that he violates Exodus 20:3 - "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Truly his addiction has become his god. What about stealing to support his habit? Exodus 20:15 says, "Thou shalt not steal." What if he steals from his parents? - "Honour thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12). There are thousands of addiction related murders each year that wouldn't have taken place had the addict been in his right mind - " Thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13).
I realize there are psychological issues as well as physical issues involved with treating the addict, but he must first come to terms with his lifestyle. Until an addict is ready to admit that he is in the wrong and needs help, he will never get the help. Even in cases where intervention is used, unless the addict is ready to make the change, he will in time revert to his old ways.
The Depth of Addiction
But addiction is more than sin. It is a search for intimate relationships. In the search, the addiction itself becomes the primary relationship. The addictive process actually alters the person’s existing personality contrary to Romans 12:2. The addict enters an abnormal love/trust relationship with an object or event of his choosing. Although there is psychological, and sometimes physical damage, what the addict really needs is to establish an intimate relationship with God. Addicts try to get their emotional and intimacy needs met through the object or event.
Four Natural Relationships
There are four natural relationships that must be in place. If one or more of these is lacking, it opens the door to possible addiction. Remember that the base cause of addiction is a lack of intimate relationships which cause people to search for intimacy in other objects or events. If one has never experienced addiction, it may be hard to understand the desperation the addict feels. Over time he has come to rely on his addiction as his primary relationship. He literally needs his addiction as much as he needs air to breath. What he must learn is that he can and must replace his harmful addiction(s) with real relationships.
First and foremost is a right relationship with God (Genesis 5:22-24). He needs intimate relationships with family and friends (Genesis 2:18). There needs to be a healthy relationship within his community; and last, but certainly not least is a caring, intimate relationship with self (Ephesians 5:29)
These relationships are God-given for our protection and help provide peace and meaning to life. And yes, they are a need. If the need of intimacy is not met in the addict's life, he will self-destruct. The end of all addiction, if left untreated, is death - exactly what satan desires. The addict gives up on these natural relationships and develops a primary relationship with the object/event in order to meet his intimacy needs.
The Search for Intimacy
The natural forms of relationships are not as reliable or as predictable as addiction. Negotiating is required. Rather than rejection, which is highly possible, from one of the four natural relationships, the addict turns to the needle and the spoon. The high is somewhat predictable, and except in the case of overdose and death, the pain of life is temporarily forgotten. In the process of addiction the addict gives up on other forms of relationships, and they betray their humanity every time they turn away from the natural relationships.
Furthermore, addicts get intensity (including euphoria and control) and intimacy confused. They fall into the delusion that intensity is intimacy. Grab another chocolate bar. The addict is in control of the situation unlike he may be in real life relationships
Because of the need for relationships and especially that of a God relationship (Isaiah 43:3), it becomes easier to fill the void of relationships with other pleasers. As it was noted, there is a pleasing affect in addiction. The object or event of that pleasing will begin to fill the void left by improper relationships.
As these pleasers are repeated, habits are formed. As habits are repeated, addiction is formed. As addiction takes root, an altered personality is formed. The person loses control of who he once was.
We will dig deeper into the mind of the addict next time. If nothing else realize that addiction is an attempt to fill the void of a lack of intimacy. That is what it is all about, and that is where the healing must begin.