Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Addict

Why do people allow substances, feelings, actions, thoughts, or desires to overtake them? What causes people to turn to lifestyles they would not have normally turned to given any other circumstances?

Here is an interesting article, Perhaps the answers can only be answered by those who have had addictions. But here are the results from a poll taken at Which of the following causes more people to have addictions than the rest?
  • 37% said Emotional instability.
  • 37% said Spiritual weakness
  • 25% said Bad decisions.
  • 0% said Physical illness, a disease.
  • 0% said Genetics
  • 0% said Bad childhood.
  • 0% said Other.
First if all what needs to be remembered as you read is that addictions are not just about drugs. There are plenty of forms of addictions. There are drugs, alcohol, work, sex, money, power, crime, and others. All of the above cause pain in our lives, even the ones that no one voted for. The problem is not in the circumstances that shape our lives of pain. The problem is in the reaction to that pain. Some choose to seek new relationships. Some seek a higher power. Some seek medicinal treatments. Some seek physical pleasures or mutilation. These actions can cause addictions and could put many people on a path to destruction. We all have some sort of circumstance in our lives that could or have formed into some sort of addiction, so we all can have opinions on this topic.

Those who have emotion instability are usually ones that have had some sort of relational problem in their life. They have been hurt by someone in their life. Betrayal, abuse, and neglect (traumas) are usually not absent in cases like these. This one could be added to the choice of bad childhood and perhaps that is why no one chose the answer. They move on from relation to relation. They can't seem to find that someone who will take them away from all of the pain they have suffered in their own mind. When that person can't take the pain away they move to another person. This relation does not necessarily mean one that involves sexual action. This could be friends. They can't seem to keep the same friends over time. It could be parents. Children start to look for other father or mother figures to have someone in their life. If they can not find the "perfect" relationship they look for a way to cope with that relationship by finding an outlet. That outlet becomes the addiction.

Oddly enough, no one said that genetics are a leading cause of addiction. But as stated in the article posted here 60% of alcoholics have had alcoholism in their family history. But maybe we recognize that even though our family has had problems it doesn't mean that we will. And it definitely doesn't mean that we have to follow those footsteps. But you can see this as being true. If babies can be born addicted to crack they can be born addicted to other things as well, or at least predisposed.

No one said physical illness or bad childhood either. Physical illness can cause addiction by either someone trying to relieve the pain they have in their live. They over use the prescriptions such as many celebrities do. Or they are being so stressed out by some situation they feel like they have nothing else to lose.

Probably the reason why no one said bad childhood is because it would be a redundant statement. Starting down a road that has plenty of bad decisions probably can not be pinpointed where it all started such as in your childhood. Besides one has to start making your own decisions and not blame the past for all the mistakes made.

The article has another page that talks about myths of addictions. Two of the myths are myths, in a way, that is. Science treats addiction as a disease. It's not a disease, but a sickness. But a sickness of what? The mind. The substance or action plays on the mind of the individual and the individual can not break free from this thought and thereby causing the person to make irrational decisions, changing the individual into someone they are not. The doctors try and treat the disease by using other forms of medicine. This is the myth that is a myth. The article said that many (when appropriate) are given medicine to curb their instincts, their brain functions back to normality. But then that means they will have to rely on the new medicine to stay functioning. That is better than the alternative but it doesn't cure the problem. The other myth-myth is that addicts are not addicted to all drugs. That is true for the most but there is an underlying factor here that is not mentioned. During an AA meeting at a rehabilitation center, after the prayer of serenity was said and all formalities out of the way, one patient said that he was glad he didn't escalate into other drugs and that he didn't start to substitute one drug for another. Meanwhile the room was getting foggier and foggier because everyone in the room had an average of about nine cigarettes in the hour meeting that was observed. Nicotine is a drug too. The man was substituting one for another but didn't realize it. That could be an example of how addictions are treated with other "medicines". The other myths seem highly accurate.

But the over all problem that causes addictions is the over all worldly problem of having spiritual weakness.

People turn to physical solutions when the real solution lies in the spiritual world. Places like AA, thank God for AA, even acknowledge that people have to recognize there is a higher power. But even as great as AA and other rehab centers are, there still needs that openness to not just accepting a higher power but embracing a higher power. Accepting a higher power is fine, but what is needed is a full surrendering to the higher power, because if you don't then you are still fighting the sickness. And yes, the higher power is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


  1. I like your way of discussing this as a universal human problem. We are all enslaved to various things apart from Christ, its just that some are more socially acceptable and less blatantly destructive than others. But ultimately, anything that holds a potential competitive hold on our desires other than Christ, is sin. We should strive to be as free as possible to pursue Christ, even when starved of our usual/expected supports and satisfactions.

    I also like the way you avoid a simple naive explanation for addiction. Ultimately God is sovereign over addictions, but He involves our wills in complex ways, and uses means (like genetics, upbringing, and environment) to do so. Ultimately we are going to be enslaved to something, so the only way to escape slavery to sin is to become enslaved to Christ. Which is impossible in our own strength (in fact, trying can become an 'acceptable' addiction in itself).

    We need God to open the eyes of our heart, and we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. This is the only way to 'out-compete' other enslaving desires (even the 'good' ones). This is what makes other religions and secular psychology different from Christianity. I think Romans 8:24-25 (and associated passages) describe it perfectly!

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  3. Excellent and thought provoking overview!
    Just to point out... 25% picked "bad decisions", below the stats you said no one.

    What you concluded here is so true. Even us christians keep turning aside to find our pleasures solely in this world. If only we could grasp continually that our Hope is in God. Life then becomes orderly, even in chaos, simply because we look to Someone higher than our struggles and addictions, Someone that turns apparent chaos into harmony.

    I love what C.S. Lewis said about the dreams of mankind

    "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

    and slightly off topic but still relevant:

    “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

  4. Pilgrim,

    I think I was trying to say bad childhood. No one can pinpoint when the bad decisions started, so to say bad choices AND bad childhood may have been redundant. Thanks for pointing that out. I will try and fix it.

  5. I appreciate both your comments. I teach and I give this survey out to my students as well. They don't realize they are part of my studies about human life.

    Yes, these are univseral problems because God is universal. He is the only answer. You all take care. Spread the Word and never back down! Come on over and vote on the polls I have to help out with my studies. Thanks for allowing me to post here.

  6. I think I fixed it to what I wanted to say. Sorry for the mixed up words.