“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” – 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Addiction comes in all shapes and sizes. And, in the United States, it’s quite prevalent. Approximately 40 million Americans are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or nicotine – a figure comprised of over 12% of the population.
Popular culture paints a particular image of the common addict. The addict is weak, both physically and morally. She can’t keep a relationship, giving up everything for drugs. He works a menial job and can barely afford to feed his family, squandering his cash on his habit. Addicts are poor excuses for a people, and someone to shame, not help.
In reality, of course, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Addiction’s grasp covers virtually everyone, from teenagers to adults in their 90s. They are parents, CEOs, college students, blue collar workers, family men, and even men of faith. Addiction doesn’t discriminate; anyone who tries a substance is at risk of developing a long-term problem that a little resolve alone can’t address.
You may find yourself reading this passage and doubting the veracity. After all, good people aren’t addicts. Good people don’t try drugs or drink too much or make mistakes. Addiction is a moral failing, right?
Unfortunately, addiction is a shade of gray, and it’s not necessarily a reflection on a user or his habits. Instead, addiction is a lifelong, chronic disease that can affect anyone and everyone, regardless of color, age, creed, or gender.
Christianity and Addiction
For Christians struggling with substance abuse and addiction, rectifying beliefs with compulsion is often among the largest roadblocks. Even as you’re sipping a drink or preparing to smoke, admitting the conflict between faith and feeling can be a hard reality to face.
The lessons in the Bible on addiction are quite clear. Despite the inherent weakness of humanity and the temptation offered by sin, God’s stance on substance abuse is one of condemnation. Proverbs 20:1 says that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” Isaiah 5:11 carries this idea further, stating that “woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”
Accordingly, it’s not hard to understand why many Christians feel as though abusing illicit substances, like alcohol, prescription painkillers, or drugs, is akin to turning away from God. If developing an addiction is completely contradictory to Christ’s teachings, is it really possible to be a Christian and an addict?
Do Christians Suffer from Addiction?
So, if abusing substances means going against the Lord, can you suffer from addiction as a Christian?
The answer is yes.
Humans are not perfect creatures, as much as we wish we were. Even those of us who are dedicated to living a good, productive, and Godly life aren’t going to live absent of accidents and incidents, no matter how hard we try.
As a follower of Christ’s lessons, you know that erring is human. We all make mistakes and fail and fall down time and time again before we manage to get back up. And, of course, addiction can be a part of this process.
Romans 5:12 reminds us that “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” We were all born into sin, will live in sin, and will die in sin, but that doesn’t mean that we are not Christians. Jesus loves all of his followers; he died for us, forgives us, and is there to help us reach a path to heaven, even though we may stumble along the way.
1 Peter 3:18 states this clearly: “or Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
The Nature of Addiction
Addiction is not a matter of faith. It is a chronic disease that has no cure and will always be a part of your life. Relapse rates are quite similar to those of other chronic conditions, like Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, and Asthma.
While addiction can take many forms, it largely starts and ends in the brain. When you take a drink or try a drug, your body reacts to the chemical composition of the ingested substances. Opiates, for example, target opioid receptors in the brain. These unique areas are a part of the reward system, helping you to feel pleasure, excitement, and euphoria during enjoyable moments. In general, these areas are activated normally through the course of regular life, but opiates can activate these receptors directly, acting like a naturally-derived neurotransmitter to send irregular signals to the brain to increase the release of dopamine. For particularly potent drugs, like heroin, its estimated that dopamine levels can be up to ten times higher than normal.
The process creates intensely pleasurable feelings, triggering a desire to continue taking drugs. Over time, increased levels of dopamine can actually lead to a change in the brain’s chemistry, rendering natural levels of endorphins ineffective.
When drugs and alcohol begin to impose physical changes on the body, addiction’s role shifts outside of the grasp of faith and no amount of prayer and worship alone can break the cycle. Without professional assistance, there may be no hope for successful recovery.
Faith in Recovery
For those who find faith in the Lord, the power of His word can play a vital role in getting clean and sober. With a combination of medical interference, professional counseling, and a return to Christian teachings, it’s possible to overcome the crushing grasp of addiction.
As a Christian rehabilitation center, we believe in incorporating your beliefs with our expertise to provide a safe, comfortable place in which to start over new. Our doctors and nurses can alleviate the pain of withdrawal while our spiritual leaders can help you turn your focus back to God, recommit yourself to His word, and utilize the power of his love to stay strong in the face of temptation.
At Road to Freedom, we will prepare you to seek forgiveness for your sins and return to life as a faithful, caring, compassionate Christian. Contact us today at (844) 402-3605 to learn more.