Natalie* stared at mirror. “Ugh! I’m so fat. I hate myself,” she thought. She stepped on the scale. The numbers flashed 92. At five feet four inches tall, Natalie had all but stopped eating.
Her addiction? Control. (Starred names have been changed.)
Once her son hopped on the school bus, *Karrie felt an adrenaline rush. Shopping! She told herself she’d buy one and only one outfit for her seven-year-old. Three hours and many shopping bags later, she collapsed on her couch and cried.
Her addiction? Shopping.
Suzanne picked up her kids’ toys in a flurry. Ben would be home any minute, usually in a sour mood, and she didn’t want to make it worse. Negative thoughts attacked: “I do everything I can to keep him happy. I wash his clothes. Make his dinner. Keep the kids quiet. Share his bed. But does he care about us? No! All he really wants is his remote and a twelve-pack of beer. Sometimes I wish he were dead.”
Her addiction? People-pleasing.
An addiction is a recurring compulsion to engage in a specific activity to the point of harm.
Among the addictions that mess up the lives of women, men and children are drug use, gambling, tobacco, work, sex, pornography, overeating, perfectionism, cutting, shopping, video games, exercise, and religion. Addiction hits every ethnic and socioeconomic group. It is in your church.
Where Experts Disagree
Folks who study addictions differ on its cause and the best way to treat it. Most scientists insist that addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that can be treated successfully with medication and behavioral therapy, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Neil T. Anderson and numerous other Christians in the field say addiction is a spiritual problem at its core. In Freedom from Addiction, Anderson makes an amazing biblical observation:
“You are not a derelict, you are not a bum, you are not a drunkard, you are not a pervert, you are not an alcoholic, you are not a drug addict, and you are not a pimp — you are a child of God. Knowing that wonderful truth and everything it implies provides the only real answer and lasting hope [that you] need to overcome bondage.”
Anderson and biblical counselors (who rely on the Bible for insight to life’s problems) agree that people become addicts in order to ease pain or fill a void — which only Jesus can meet. When a believer realizes her true identity in Christ, she is well on the road to healing.
Why Can’t She Just Stop?
If it were only this easy. An addict is caught in a vicious cycle. Like a hamster running a wheel, she turns to her addiction of choice to feel pleasure or relief, but succumbing to this “god” fills her with self-hate, shame, and hopelessness.
Often a women with an addiction doesn’t know she has a problem until it has a foothold in her life and her world begins to crumble. Her marriage, job, friendships, her children, finances — they are all at risk.
What Does God Say?
A woman with an addiction has her mind programmed by the world. The Bible says, “Do not be conformed any longer to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NASB).
As her mind is renewed and she realizes who she is in Christ, she begins to demolish strongholds with the truth of Scripture and experience freedom.
If you or someone you love needs Christian pastoral/biblical counseling for addiction or another hurt, get help today. God loves you. . .wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done.