Addictions are complex and damaging with many ripples affecting not just the addict, but spreading like an infection to harm, change, or damage close loved ones and even innocent bystanders.
Whether you are an individual struggling with an addiction, you’re headed down that path, or you are the loved one of someone who is, know that people are praying for you and hope, real hope, is within your reach to grab onto.
The foundation of hope will come from the peace and love of God. But we can also add significant blocks in our hope shelter by bringing some light in so we can see and understand addictions more clearly.
Addictions never just occur, come out of the blue, or come from a genetic defect. Addictions are caused by struggles in all 3 spheres, Spirit, Mind, and Body. So in order to understand why someone gets addicted, all the symptoms and struggles they experience, and how to treat or heal them, we must dig in and understand not only how God designed us with these 3 spheres, but also how the 3 are braided together like a tight and strong rope for our incredible mind to work well.
I’ve been a Christian psychiatrist since 1989, have successfully treated many addicts, and put together Christian programs to powerfully transform people’s lives. I’m also a former alcoholic who is now blessed to live an amazing life of freedom, joy, and peace. I’ve found knowing the science of how God designed us makes it easier to apply those awesome, but sometimes complex, Biblical truths to slow down our thinking so we can both understand and get the most of our mind and life.
Below, I’ve combined what I’ve learned professionally and personally to develop resources blending cutting edge psychological science with Biblical truths in understandable terms for you to get practical wisdom and impact. Our team at Lighthouse Network and prayer partners hope you and those you love or care for are blessed by these resources.
- Alcohol Rehab Guide
- Adolescent Rehab Guide
- Parenting Addicts
- Opioid Rehab Guide
- Stepping Stones Daily Devotional– Addictions
- Media Interviews
- Assessment Tools
Some Sobering U.S. Statistics
- Sad News Flash: Addictions are the #1 cause of death
If you count not just the acute deaths from accidental overdose, suicide, accidents, and murders, but also include the chronic effects and diseases of alcohol abuse, tobacco use, and overeating (yes, that is an addiction), then deaths primarily caused by addiction far outnumber deaths caused by any other disease group including heart disease, cancers, and any other illnesses with special ribbons or awareness days.
- By medical science standards, recent research states 47% will have a substance or process addiction THIS YEAR. This 47% doesn’t even include caffeine addiction (the most common substance addiction) or pornography (the most common process/behavioral addiction).
- 82% of society will have a close family member – spouse, parent, child, sibling – with a substance addiction in their lifetime.
A simple definition for addiction is when a person continues to use a substance, engage in a behavior, or gravitate to a feeling state, even when doing so causes distress, decrease in functioning, and consequences or harm.
- Examples of common substances or chemicals people get addicted to are tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, marijuana, food, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, various hallucinogens, or inhaling gases. Some are prescription medications like tranquilizers (benzodiazepines), painkillers (opioids), or stimulants (Ritalin/Adderall groups).
- A process addiction is substituting a behavior or feeling/mindset in place of a substance or chemical in the addiction definition.
- Common addictive behaviors are gambling, pornography, shopping, screens (think video games, TV, cell phones, computer), social media, eating, workaholism, education/degrees, productivity, controlling people/things, sex, exercise, or high risk activities (adrenaline junkies)
- Common feelings or mindsets people get addicted to are victim, guilt, shame, fear, anxiety, power, control, loneliness, sadness, co-dependency, or anger
A Christian definition for addiction would be when a person pursues something other than God to have their needs met. God knew we would get drawn into this addiction trap and warns us with commandments to avoid this addiction trap:
1st Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me,” and in the
2nd Commandment: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
Sadly, we all have idols of the heart and promote something other than God onto the throne of our mind on a regular basis. Here’s both the proof and how you can identify your addiction object … the thing you are addicted to.
When you are experiencing stress, adversity, or life throws you a curveball,
- what do you turn to or think of first
- what are you afraid of losing
- what is your main need in that moment
- what are the main immediate motivators for the decisions you make to relieve that pressure
- what brings you relief or a fix to the situation
The opposite of addiction is belonging. You see, when we feel insecure, don’t feel connected to people, or feel distant from God, we don’t feel good and we start looking for quick fixes to feel better. As we use those fixes and get the temporary relief or escape, we develop a relationship with that substance or behavior, and our other relationships start to fall away. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, insecurity, and need for the addiction object drive others away and make God seem distant and disinterested. This deepens our pain and we turn to our addiction more frequently, using it to solve more of our problems until it is the main relationship in our life, controlling us instead of us controlling it.
Jesus performed many physical healings, but the main reason He came to earth was to heal the broken-hearted and set the captives (imprisoned by their addictions) free – to bring a lasting psycho-spiritual healing for all. Then Jesus not only taught what we need to do but also role modeled it as well. Primarily Jesus taught and died to show God’s love for us and that we do belong to God. He even pursues us even though we try running from Him and He always wants us to come back home. He’s provided a way for us to refresh our bodies, renew our minds, and transform our lives. We want to help you overcome your addiction and experience the love, forgiveness, freedom, peace, hope joy, and fulfillment only fully found in God.
Lighthouse Network Commitment
As a psychiatrist, I am committed to share with you the cutting edge science about our brain, decision-making, and addiction, which then allows us to understand and apply the rich and powerful principles taught to us in our Creator’s Instruction Manual, The Holy Bible. As a former alcoholic, these principles saved and transformed my life, and I am confident they will help you regain control of your decisions and life if you humbly accept and practice them.
Please be blessed by the following resources designed to help you.
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- Behavioral Warning Signs of Alcohol or Substance Abuse:
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- What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Ecstasy Abuse?
- What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Heroin Addiction?
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- What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Smoking and Nicotine Addiction?
- Parenting Drug or Alcohol Addicted Children
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