Many people struggle for months and years trying to understand their addiction and learn how to overcome it. The road can be long and tiring, especially for those who don’t know why they do what they do and more importantly, don’t know how to stop doing it. These people often find themselves relapsing again and again, never feeling completely comfortable in their recovery, and never really believing they will live a sober life again. But true recovery is possible, and eventually the feeling of being pressed down by dependence on drugs or alcohol can be replaced by a sense of calm confidence. First, though, we must get to the heart of addiction.
What is Addiction?
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is defined as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.” In other words, the individual who is addicted suffers from a change in brain chemistry, becomes controlled by their substance, and is powerless to stop using it.
But the definition of addiction doesn’t explain why some people become addicted in the first place, and why others continue going back to their substance, even long after they’ve stopped using and are not physically dependent any longer. It also doesn’t explain why people can be addicted to substances that are not habit forming or addictive, or why people transfer from one addiction to another. Certain substances are physically addicting, drawing the user in and taking control of their life. Addiction can happen with drugs, alcohol, and other substances, but it can also happen with processes like eating or shopping.
So what is it that causes the person to lose control and give in to their addiction? It has to do with what is going on in the person’s life, what they have experienced, and how they perceive themselves and their past. In order to understand a particular person’s addiction, we need to ask the how and why questions. Getting to the heart of addiction is necessary and is the best way to achieve sobriety.
Unmet Needs Can Lead to Addiction
The real cause of a person’s addiction can be tricky to identify. But all addiction stems from the desire to meet a need. For some people, the need is to be liked by others and to fit in. Other people have a need to deal with pain, disappointment, and bad memories or experiences. Still others have a need to punish themselves to deal with the guilt they feel for something in their past.
Looking at it from a Christian perspective, deep down all these needs relate directly to sin and our need to be loved and forgiven by God. When we turn to other people, activities, or substances to fulfill a desire that can only be filled by God, we become frustrated, depressed, and helpless to control our lives and our actions. The addiction snowballs, dragging us further and further from God and from the solution to the problem.
The solution to every addiction is God. Once we see that and learn how to apply God’s power and love to our everyday struggles, we can become free from the addiction that so easily entangles us.
How God Helps Us Overcome Addiction
What does God say about getting to the heart of addiction? He tells us that He knows everything about us: our insecurities, our desires, and our failures, and He loves us anyway. He tells us His grace is sufficient for us. He tells us He is with us and will help us through every struggle we face. For the person who is an addict today because their father was an abusive alcoholic who never showed love, God is the heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally. For the person who was never good enough, popular enough, or smart enough, God is the Comforter, the Friend, who is always there. For the individual who is overwhelmed with guilt over all the things they’ve done wrong in the past, God is the ultimate Savior who grants full forgiveness. God promises to never leave us, and if we listen, He will grant us renewal and new life.
The Importance of Christian Rehab to Get to the Heart of Recovery
God has an answer to all of our unmet needs, and He can help us in our addiction recovery. Christian drug rehab is so important because it brings God back into the picture and helps us see our past through His eyes. Psychotherapy with a Christian focus helps identify the root cause of addiction and provides resources and techniques to help the person refocus their mind and to heal. When a person simply tries to be good and stay sober, they often fail and relapse. But when there is Christian motivation and encouragement for a new direction in life, rehab is much more productive and sobriety can be achieved.
Yes, recovery will still be a struggle. It’s not easy to retrain the mind from focusing on ourselves and the needs we see and instead turn that focus to God and what He promises to do for us. When we do let God become part of our recovery, we see that His love for us never fails and that He is powerful enough to help us through even the toughest challenges.