People get addicted to things for a variety of reasons. The overarching reason is that we are human “separated from God and his life“ and as a result we find ourselves out of control in a lot of ways. Yet, first let’s summarize some of the specific forces that drive an addiction.
Some people seem to have a particular genetic makeup that is prone to addiction toward a certain substance, such as food or alcohol.
Environmental forces may be at work. People who are injured by significant relationships or grow up in families where certain relational and life patterns are “caught” and modeled may not develop the coping skills needed to deal with hurts and injuries. Some turn to an addiction to medicate their pain.
Some people’s emotional makeup and dynamics can predispose them toward an addiction. These dynamics include:
- An internal sense of relational isolation and alienation, resulting in loneliness and a hunger for love
- A sense of powerlessness in life, and being controlled by others, circumstances, and forces bigger than themselves
- Inability to gain mastery and an ability to cope with and thus develop a sense of personal power that is adequate to deal with other people and life
- Feelings of shame, guilt, “badness,” or failure, or other ways of feeling bad about themselves
- Unresolved losses and failures and the inability to deal with them
- Unresolved trauma, hurt, abuse, and pain of all kinds
- Feelings of inferiority and inability to develop competencies in life
- Feelings of being dominated by others and not living up to their standards
- Difficult times in life, along with the ineffectiveness of coping mechanisms and skills
While all of these can be factors in the cause of addiction, they are all symptoms of another, deeper condition. It is the spiritual condition of being “alienated” from God and his life as he created us to live it. When we are cut off from him and his life, the Bible says that we become subject to addiction.
Paul says in Ephesians 4:17-19:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
When we become “darkened in our understanding” and “separated from the life of God“, then we find ourselves in a lost state, craving things that will never satisfy. We experience a “continual lust for more.” This craving drives us to want just one more drink, one more experience, one more sexual encounter, one more pizza, one more purchase. The desire is “continual,” which means that it does not go away with the experience of the behavior.
This is a downward, futile, destructive cycle because it causes us to become separated from God and his life, even among people who are “spiritual.” A part of the soul is disconnected from God and His life, or from the resources and healing experiences that will meet the need in ways that are truly satisfying, the things that can truly “make a way.”
If separation from God and His life is the cause, then reconciliation to God and His life is the answer. That is how God makes a way for anyone with an addiction. He truly can set slaves free.
By Steve Arterburn