How to Break the Addiction Cycle
Jul 31, 2022 1262
I know a thing or two about the addiction cycle. I hope you’re not judging me already!
Of course, when we think of addiction we think of alcohol, drugs, and other things. We think they’re the bad ones, and they are bad, but there are many kinds of addiction.
You can be addicted to sugar, and that might be as harmful as other kinds of addition. What about being addicted to technology? Or being addicted to love. They can all be highly dangerous.
There are far more people in our society who are addicts than you could ever imagine!
Addiction is like a vicious cycle. Once you get sucked into it it’s very difficult to escape. To break the addiction cycle, you need to understand what fuels it. It is shame that fuels the addiction cycle.
There is a difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is a feeling you get when you perceive that you have done something wrong. On the other hand, shame is not tied to a specific event, but is rather a feeling that your whole self is defective, unworthy, inadequate and wrong. As a result, addiction is, at its core, a desperate cry for acceptance and for love.
Whether or not someone acknowledges the presence of shame in their life, it is a terrible thing to sit in it. Shame is a shadowy and silent vampire that drains the life out of your soul and darkens all hope. This shame is often deeply-rooted in our earliest experiences. It is shame that keeps the addiction cycle going.
Shame is so intolerable, that people will do almost anything to remove the feeling of shame for even a brief time. We will do almost anything to feel accepted and included, rather than rejected and excluded. We will do almost anything to feel good for a change. Fundamentally addictive behaviours are a way of “self-soothing” or “self-medicating.”
That’s how addiction begins, and that is how it is perpetuated in your life. As long as you are on that cycle of addiction, your need for your drug of choice (i.e., your addictive behaviour) will become more entrenched in your neural pathways and will in fact increase over time.
That’s why you simply can’t shame people out of addiction. It doesn’t work that way. The more you shame an addict, the more you are entrenching them in their addiction and misery. Even education and training doesn’t help by themselves.
To place shame and judgment on someone who is struggling with addiction is to fuel the very fires of that addiction. Most addicts know that their lives are messed up and that what they are doing is wrong, and they are desperately trying to escape.
If you love them, you have to love them through their struggle.
To recover, people don’t need judgment. They need acceptance, as difficult as that might be understand. They don’t need acceptance of their addiction or wrong behaviours. They need acceptance of who they are.
Because shame is a deep feeling that you are totally defective and unworthy, the antidote to shame, and therefore key to breaking the addiction cycle, is connection and inclusion. Connection can exist in a loving relationship, in a church community, or even in a supportive circle of friends. When connection is present, then other interventions and supports can all work together to help a person break the cycle of addiction.
In my own personal story, I found that fully embracing that my identity is established by God, and in his love for me, has been instrumental in my healing. I don’t need acceptance and approval from others. God already approves of me. I am profoundly and eternally loved (Jer. 31:3.) I appreciate that not everyone may have this same understanding of God. However, this has been a very powerful reality in my life that I hold on to, and that I have to remember every day.
Addictive behaviours become hard-wired into a person’s neural processes, and they take time to undo. That why it’s an “addiction cycle.” Although in rare occasions a person can be delivered from addiction from one moment to the next. However, it is much more common that there will be relapses, and even many of them, and over a long time.
This can be a difficult thing for people who are addicts, and for those who love them. If we love them, we have to love them through their struggle.
Jesus Doesn’t Want You to be in Slavery to Anything
I remember Mary Magdalene out of whom Jesus cast seven demons (Mark 16:9.) Although we’re not told the details about this, I wonder whether she fell again and again and had to be forgiven and restored by Jesus seven times. I also remember how Peter came to ask Jesus about whether he should forgive someone who had wronged him seven times, and Jesus told him, not seven times, but seventy times seven (Matt. 18:21-22.)
There is a saying that once a person is an addict, and whether that’s alcohol or anything else, it’s true. Such a person may recover, but they will always have a weakness for the object of their addiction.
If you have a family member or a friend who is an addict, then please remember to look after yourself. Do not stay in an environment in which you are in any way exposed to abuse or danger. If you don’t, you can’t help them, and in fact, you are just feeding their addiction.
I understood something as I recovered from my own addiction. I always through that God was looking down disapprovingly at me. Now I realise that when I was at my worst, he was right there with me, with his arm around me, suffering with me. He was with me every step of the way. He always has been.
Finally, whoever you are, remember that God doesn’t want you to live in slavery to anything. This is what I have found in my own life. Jesus is enough for me, no matter how bad things get in this world. And Jesus is enough for you too.
– Eliezer Gonzalez
I hope you are having a wonderful Sabbath, Eliezer. I'm actually an addiction survivor: wine was the substance, but what I was addicted to was the dopamine it triggered, in the nucleus accumbens. You'll be interested in what a paediatric neuro-endocrinologist - Dr Robert Lustig - has to say about this. You mentioned: "You can be addicted to sugar, and that might be as harmful as other kinds of addition." I realise you sort-of can't be excessively categorical - as the topic here is a spiritual one, we're not focusing on the physical - but based on studies conducted by Dr Lustig as well as his peers around the world, one can safely replace "might be" with "is": sugar in processed food, and in general, drives mitochondrial dysfunction - the fructose molecule is hepato-toxic - and mitochondrial dysfunction drives 80% of the non-communicable, chronic disease today. For me, when I put alcohol in its place, I ended up replacing it with another substance that would trigger dopamine in the reward centre, so I wasn't really ahead any: not really. It was with the book "The Hacking of the American Mind" that lights finally came on. And perhaps, most illuminating, Paul's admonition in 2nd Timothy: "... treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power." Lovers of pleasure. Wow. Pleasure vs contentment. Paul must have understood addiction more than I gave him credit for!!
I agree with these statements. "To recover, people don’t need judgment. They do not need acceptance of their addiction or wrong behaviours. They need acceptance of who they are. This can be a difficult thing for people who are addicts, and for those who love them. If we love them, we have to love them through their struggle." Long story short, I had shared the gospel to a man who was a son of my mother's close friend (both deceased). He as a drug addict for more than 40 over years. He accept Jesus as Lord. It was a genuine conversion. I brought him to a church that accepted his condition. Over the years he changed and faithfully YIELDED to the Lord's dealings in his life. He lived to an old age and has gone Home to be with the Lord since. "True repentance is a condition of soul before God wrought by the operations of the (Holy) Spirit of God upon the heart and soul of man whereby he is made to see and feel the sinfulness of his sins and also to forsake them utterly and with full purpose of heart to YIELD obedience to God in the future." "Justification can only follow true repentance and is an act of God's free grace wherein He pardoneth the sins of man, and accepteth him a righteous in His sight, only for the sake of Christ (Jesus)."
What a blessing to be addicted to Serving Christ by serving mothers, through love. You reall said well Dr. Gonzales. Christ is enough, we need to trust him and love him by loving others. Besides miracles in my life and besides all that l learned from my beloved famil, onlyDr Desmond Ford, taught me how to understand that the bible is the best book in the whole world. Now Dr. Gonzales is in his foot step s. What a blessing. Amen
Retrata muy nítidamente todos nuestros vanos esfuerzos de justificarnos por las obras. Muy lindo desafío para todos.
Thank you for your help and honesty,this topic is very challenging but an opportunity for true growth in our faith in Christ.
Aug 12, 2022
How this topic comes across just some few days of me receiving Jesus Christ as my personal saviour...God really allows everything to happen at its intact time...i have been addicted by alcohol for many years but once i entered the doors of the church have been taught the good news to fully seek and lead the Bible so that i shouldn't turn back to my past unrightious life.