I received a tortured call one evening. “Horrible things are happening, my life is coming unraveled,” the caller said, spilling out a litany of disasters that tangled financial loss, physical illness, family estrangement, and psychological despair.

Image © Krieg Barrie from

“Your addiction is catching up with you,” I said. The dialog between the two of us had been protracted, painful and interspersed with angry telephone clicks when my frankness offended him. Now he wept brokenly.

“I know.”

“You must get help.”

“But I’d have to spend all my savings to go into rehab! Plus I’d have to tell people the truth! What would they think of me? And I can’t leave my job.”

“You’ll lose it all anyway if you don’t get help—money, loved ones, job. It’s your choice; leave it now for a time or lose it forever.”

He reminded me of captain afraid to leave his sinking ship, willing to ignore the sound of water rushing into the hull.

“Why can’t I just stay here and quit?” he asked.

“It happens sometimes,” I said, “but most of the time addicts must leave their environment to escape the triggers. Plus they must have the help of others.”

“Can’t I just pray?”

“Sure, go for it. But that’s what you did last week.”

I believe in prayer. I’ve known a few cases where people recovered from serious addiction without any human intervention. But most of the time a drastic change of environment is necessary, partly to help the addict realize their desperate condition. One of the markers of addiction is minimization; the addict underestimates the problem. He believes he can “quit anytime,” or cut back when things get “out of hand.” Most of the time, the addiction keeps him in the dark. Searing moments of realization come with consequences, only to be quenched again by the lie that everything is under control.

Under control is right, but not the way the addict thinks. The addiction has control of him, not the other way around. Paul said, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey?” (Romans 6:16) He uses sarcasm here to make his point. When you give up your freedom, you lose your freedom. Duh.

And for this Jesus died? So that His children, His precious, image-bearing children, His fearfully, wonderfully made children, could riddle their brains and bodies with a soul-destroying poison or practice? Is this why He tasted death for everyone? So they could then drink, smoke, sex, and drug themselves to death all over again?

“I don’t matter,” you may say, “I’m a loser, I’m nothing, I’m worthless.” Momentary thrills and self-sabotage seem logical if we believe this. But God determines our value, which is equal with His Son. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) God could not have more forcefully declared our value; He gave His prized, precious, adored Son. Don’t you dare tell me you’re worthless.

We don’t belong to ourselves, so have no real right to destroy ourselves. We’re God’s property and self-destruction violates Him. Protect God’s child from the enemy, even when the child is you and the enemy is you. In other words, protect you from you.

Avoid addiction like the plague. Don’t use anything habit forming: alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, drugs, junk food, illicit sex, godless media. Use moderately what is good: food, exercise, social life, buying, recreation.

If you’re already addicted, agonize to enter the straight gate and do whatever it takes to free yourself. Go to Jesus as you are and tell Him you’re powerless. Pray for His guidance through the labyrinthine options of the mental health system. Get counsel from someone who has helped others. Get help from friends and loved ones. Seek anointing and special prayer from spiritual guardians. Most of all, cast yourself upon the mercy of the One who valued you enough to die for you. Amen.



Addiction — 19 Comments

  1. Hi Jen,

    Glad to see your post on addiction. Addiction may have underlying emotional issues and an inherited tendency. We had both in our family, going back generations. This was manifested in abuses of alcohol, cigarettes, prescription medicines, recreational drugs, sex, anger and self-absorbed living.

    I am grateful for a loving God who can free us from any inherited tendency and addiction and heal us of the emotional issues that drove us to abuse.
    Thanks Jen!

  2. Jennifer, I appreciate your frankness with this person. That is what people need at a time like that. I have many people who have called me to talk about the problem over and over but they never take my counsel or act on it. They just want to talk. You have inspired us to act to overcome addictions. Thank you.

  3. The idea of changing one's environment to avoid the so-called "triggers" is worth a try. I'll give it a shot by the grace and providence of God--as I too have an addiction I'm battling.

    • To "leave their environment to escape the triggers" may be necessary, not only for the addict but for the tempted (not fallen). Remember Joseph running without his garment? (Genesis 39:12). He thought it better to take a chance on streaking than to lose the garment of righteousness God had given him.

    • Hi Newton,
      Go for it. Please keep us posted on your progress. And I am sure that those of us reading these posts will be praying for your victory over that slave master.

  4. I have a real addiction to food. It is what I choose when upset, tired, depressed, etc.
    Changing my environment would be nice, but lack of funds make that difficult if not impossible for me.
    Would be nice to get away from the stress and aggravation and see if it can be overcome, though.

    • Gerry, the first step is admitting an addiction. So you're way ahead of many of us who have the same addiction but don't recognize it as an addiction.

      This is a tough one to deal with because, after all, you have to eat. So you can't just remove the food from the house. But maybe you can do something like "changing the environment" by changing the food. Absolutely do not keep junk foods or empty-calorie foods around as temptation. Next, lay in a stock of celery or carrot sticks and use those when you absolutely need to put something in your mouth.

      Better yet, would be to take a drink of water instead of eating. Substituting a different activity for eating when stressed would be good too. (It's hard to just stop doing something. It's better to do something else instead.)

      Does anyone else have suggestions?

      • I also am trying to overcome a food addiction , but i think it is more a lack of motavation , ailing health (Emphasyma + Oesteoarthritis).... it is the changing of a lifestyle over the years i found that food combining has had the best results so far , because if i eat the wrong food the next meal is decided already as the body needs time to get back to normality , it is not a quick cure but a great lifestyle change that's why i mentioned lack of motivation over addiction , i'm going on a fast with my mate this week the motivation is my mate (BUDDY) we support each other as christion brothers and pals so it turns into fun " but i'll learn from the challenge ' and grow from there i'm getting married soon and have never been married in my life and if that is not motivation enough i don't know what is lol, one thing i've found it seems to be easy to do it for someone as to do it for self .....but one thing i do know the Bible commands us to be overcomers and that's my desire , i hope this might help some one . God Bless

      • This is right Inge. One cannot just cut out the substance that causes the addiction since the lack of it stimulates a high need for the endorphins that gives that "pleasure in the first place". Rather, a healthy substitute that also releases endorphins, creating the same pleasurable response gives us a higher rate of success. The key is to find these other good, positive habits, albeit a food, activity, situation etc. When the urge comes for the negative one (addiction) replace it. This is better said than done. But remember that the power of Jesus will help. Look for it in daily meditation.

      • Tried to find one, but around here is none. Since posting my first comment, I learned the local VA health clinic is going to be having a MOVE program in either November or December. Waiting to hear from them about exactly when.

  5. Its must be a wonderfull thing to have no addiction. I find myself hook on Jesus and I don't want to get off.I Love to start with Him in the morning hold on to Him during the day and lay down thinking about His goodness before I go to sleep. Even my wife sometime think something is wrong. But I've learn to lean on and trust Him with all my addictons and cares. Don't ever stop praying.God can and will supply all your needs.I believe that.Its power in the name of JESUS.

  6. [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting.]

    Your article had been staring me in the face for a few days now. I finally broke down and read it, not knowing what it was about initially. However knowing I wake up every money looking for a word from the Lord, I finally started reading it. I have been tossing and turning for the last few days with a situation that my addition with spending got me into. I have three more car payments to make before I will own my car outright and yet I am two car payments behind living in constant fear of repossession. However, your article is proof that God is giving me the victory over my spending addition, but I am afraid of the consequences of it. Please pray that I remain faithful and trusting to God no matter what and that in His loving mercy he allow me to make those final payments and keep my car. I am working from 5am to 8:45pm to make ends meet because I am only doing part-time work. I need a breakthrough today. I trust God knows what that breakthrough needs to be.


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