This post I am currently writing right now I feel is a serious discussion, and that there are large number of elements that come into play when it comes to addictions. Addictions have a way of appearing in a person’s life without them knowing they have an addiction, because our personalities tend to have addictive tendencies. We always are craving something, wanting something, or needing something. And for the most part, I feel we have fair warnings of possibly becoming addicted to anything we start.
“Harmless” stuff like TV shows and movies can over ride one’s life to the point that they have no “life.” But when we have that friend that says “Hey, try this show, you’ll love it!” We refuse to actually see this as the first steps to an addiction…but it is.
Generally, the person simply says “Oh, I will have another,” or “Oh, I will just do it one more time,” and that is just enough to start an addiction. Addiction can ruin relationships, break apart families, and ultimately can lead to death (literally and figuratively…I will explain how figuratively later in this post).
Through this post, I pray that I can help people understand addictions better and help those that have addictions realize they have an addiction and begin the process of removing the addiction.
First, what is an addiction?
An addiction is when someone is attracted to a certain substance or activity, and expresses obsessive traits toward this substance.
Examples of addictive substances include the following: Cigarettes, Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Caffeine, Food, Pornography, Self-harm, Video Games, Sports, TV Shows, and Movies. See, to be an addiction, there has to be some type of reward, that stimulates the reward system in our brain. And this reward has to be greater than the risk created by the substance of the action.
Basically, there has to be a feeling that is interpreted as “good” by our brain, otherwise we would not like doing it.
Lets take bread for example. Bread is a carb and when eaten, it causes a release of serotonin and dopamine (or the “Feel Good Hormones“). Thus stimulating the reward system in our brain. “I eat this bread. I feel good. I should have more of it to keep this feeling up.” Then, the person has more bread and continues to stimulate his or her reward system.
This creates an addiction, and this person is now an over-eater, possibly on his or her way to morbid obesity and death. Simply increasing your… well, I guess I will call this your “happy mood,” is the simplest way to cause an addiction. “This makes me feel good and happy. I am going to keep doing it.”
A lot of drugs work this way, such as Marijuana and Cocaine. And by continuing to participate in the these types of substances and activities, your body eventually builds a tolerance for it, meaning you will need more of that substance to receive the same intensity as the first time you took or did it.
This leads to people spending all of their money on whatever substance they need, and ultimately leads to financial problems. If these people have families, then they are not supporting their family, or even worst they could be stealing from their family to finance their habit.
Also, this type of behavior can lead to depression. If your brain is used to being at a certain level of euphoria, and then it is lowered because it needs more to maintain that same level of intensity then couldn’t that lead to a level of depression? This creates even more problems for the individuals and their families.
However, not all activities or substances truly cause a “good” feeling. For some people, they are living a life that they feel is extremely difficult for them. This ultimately can lead to a state of depression and these people turn to substance or objects that cause them to feel better than the current circumstance.
Self-harm is an activity that can be viewed in such a way. The body never wants to be injured. Injury results in a sympathetic nervous system response (or a fight or flight response). It is a primal instinct to avoid injury because being injured (in your mind) can lead to death. That is why when you put your hand on a hot stove, you yank your hand away and you do not do it again.
But when there is an imbalance in someone’s hormones, this can allow for a misinterpretation in the brain. Thus allowing for self-harm (such as the cutting of arms or legs) to be interpreted as a “good” feeling, when in fact there is no “reward” for harming yourself.
Ultimately, this creates a better feeling than what the individual is currently feeling, thus leading down the same old road that we have already discussed with the bread.
Self-harm can evidently lead to infection and death. When tolerance sets in with self-harm, then the individual has to create a more significant wound to achieve that same intensity from the first cut. This can lead to the permanent damage of superficial nerves and also death (either through infection or if the person attempts suicide by cutting).
All of this is dreadful and horrendous. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. People with depression and this addiction tend to only see one way “out.” However, I feel there are other, safer means to rising from an addiction and depression that I will talk about in another section.
Now, some people use depressants to escape their world, and probably the most abused depressants would in fact be Alcohol.
One of the many staples of the world is being able to have a drink with your friends at a ball game, or out at the bar. However, alcohol can become an addiction, and one that can devastate families and relationships. See, alcohol is perfectly okay every once and awhile.
However, it can soon become an addiction in which the person who drinks requires it to function in every day society. Alcohol inhibits our way of thinking and processing certain things. It creates a skew of what is truly going on. There is a reason it is illegal to drink and drive and that is due to the effects that alcohol has on the body. It slows down reaction time, alters ones vision, and inhibits their decision making skills.
Alcohol also depresses our emotions, making us virtually null to our own emotions…in other words it makes whatever we are feeling go away to the point we don’t really feel or care about what we do. This is why bar fights occur, and one night stands, and people who think they are ok enough to drive.
For people who are addicted to alcohol, it is this numbing effect that it has on their feelings that allows them to escape whatever pressure it is they are facing. People like this would much rather have a drink than spend time with their families. They waste all of their money on alcohol, leading them into debt and unable to provide for their families. But they do this because it creates a “better” situation than the one they are in… even though it is actually slowly destroying not only their relationships with their families, but also their body.
Alcohol causes tremendous stress on the liver. It can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, which ultimately can lead to death. A drink every once and a while will not hurt anyone; however, drinking to get drunk or drinking in excess over time will result in death. People would rather risk death and feel nothing, rather than try to find a healthier outlet.
Addictions can ruin your life, and the lives of those around you. And the ones mentioned here are definitely not the only addictions in the world.
Pornography can lead to the destruction of relationships, and mentally can cause a disconnect between spouses due to the abnormal release of oxytocin… basically, it causes the person to fall in love with the feeling of orgasm rather than falling in love with the person they are with.
Video Games can be great for relieving stress and escaping life for a short while (because we all do need an escape every now and again), however when someone spends all of their time focusing on a game, it can lead to the person not taking care of themselves and dying on the inside (in other words they have no life, except the false life they are living in the virtual world).
Matthew 6:24 says,
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (ESV).
This verse specifically talks about money being an addiction, but it rings true that no one can serve two masters. So if you think you can be addicted to anything and still be able to serve God, I fear you are mistaken.
You see, these are more than just addictions. These are worldly things that people feel they cannot live without. They will do anything and everything to get their “fix” and when they do, all they want is more. These items have become a god in their life.
People are born with the instinct of worship and when it is focused on worldly things, that in its self creates the root of the problem. They are worshipping something that cannot truly save them from whatever pressures they are running away from.
I am going to say it like my mom would say, “They need them some Jesus!”
That is ultimately the way to get free from an addiction.
The person has to be able to admit they have an addiction and they must be sincere when they say they want to get rid of the addiction. There has to be a transformation in the person to be able to get rid of the addiction.
I believe they have to take their addiction and replace it with the love of the people around them and become “addicted” to that. Or better yet, I feel they need to accept the love of Jesus and allow God to transform them.
If we can become something better through the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, then we no longer need that “something better” that was found in the addiction.
God uses people who go through these types of situations to be able to then guide other people out of them.
I like to look at the Bible Verse John 8:32.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (NLV).
Jesus, who is the truth, can set us free from anything that is binding us. It is through Him that we can experience love that truly can transform us and allow us to break free from the chains of addiction, and go forth not in death but in life that will truly endure forever.
When we break through the addiction, then one of the roles we play in building his kingdom is to help the sick that are addicted, and help them experience the love that we have experienced. God will work through us to help others, just as He had once helped us, when we were enslaved to our own addictions.