Overcoming Addiction–Part Two
Keys to Victory
Virtually all addicts have a problem with denial. They are genuinely convinced that they can “handle it.” Accept that when loved ones believe that you have a problem, you have a problem–whether you believe it or not. Accept that you must deny yourself on the basis of their evaluation. God gives us loved ones, in part, to show us our blind spots and hold us accountable. Accept that it is the height of stupidity and selfishness to continue in a behavior that troubles our loved ones–whether we are truly addicted or not. If my wife tells me she thinks I’m drinking too much lemonade, it’s time to stop drinking lemonade.
Saturate yourself in reasons why your behavior must be changed. Create an intense inner desire to conquer it. Study the consequences of addiction in great detail–including painful and slow death and ruined lives of loved ones. Many children’s lives have been ruined as a result of the addictions of their parents–including parents who denied their addiction to the end. Of course, much misery and hurt has also come into the lives of adults whose loved ones have been captured by addictions. Ask God to help you truly desire the victory. This desire must be real, personal, and internalized. It is not enough to just “claim” you want victory because of pressure from loved ones. It’s not enough to simply be willing to “do whatever you have to” to get out of the current mess you’re in.
Admit that it will be impossible to change your behavior without the help of God and loved ones.
Begin to exercise self-discipline in life (e.g., memorizing Scripture, fasting, etc. on a regular basis). Memorize Scriptures about self-control. Fasting can help. (If you can deny yourself food, it follows that you will be more likely to deny yourself the addiction.)
Ask several people to hold you accountable–(Ask them to ask you often and specifically: “Have you engaged in the activity? Have you been tempted? When were you tempted?What were the circumstances?”) This means a TOTAL openness and honesty to people who will hold you accountable. It means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week–total accountability. They know you are weak. You know you are weak. Confess it. Accept the accountability. Be thankful for people who care enough about you to hold you accountable. If they start thinking that you are doing better and that they don’t need to keep asking you the questions, remind them of the dangers of falling–even when you seem “safe.” Beg them to continue to hold you accountable. Have them read this paper. If necessary, take the initiative and TELL them how you are doing?whether you are doing well or not. Tell them when you have been tempted. Accept a LIFE-TIME of accountability! Do not think of it as a temporary “probationary” time. Think of it as forever!
Pour yourself into some kind of ongoing service activity or ministry. Ask God to give you an ongoing project–something you can devote your energy to–something that will glorify God and bless others. (This also strengthens self-discipline)
Break off ALL (A-L-L!) communications with ANYONE who would condone, encourage, accept, or overlook the addiction behavior. Change your phone number. Give up your cell phone. It may be necessary to find another job. It may be necessary to move to another state. You must get away from the people and circumstances that might enable you to fall.
Several times in my life, as a result of changes in jobs or schools, I have had to move into a new area. Soon I had a new set of friends in that area. It happens to people all the time. An addict has to have that attitude. If moving is totally out of the question, then a new lifestyle must be developed involving a new set of friends. It may mean getting involved in new sports and recreation (many churches have sports teams). It may mean going to every Bible study you can find to begin new friendships with people who are serious about their walk with the Lord.
Make a RADICAL change in your ENTIRE lifestyle. It is not enough to just “stop the addiction.” All of life needs to be changed. The behavior you wish to eliminate must be replaced by wholesome behavior. Remember the warning Jesus gave in Matthew 12: 43 “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. 44 “Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. 45 “Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45 NAS95)
Realize that you have begun a LIFELONG battle. Just because you experience success for a few days, weeks, or even months, does not mean that there is no longer danger! Beg your loved ones to hold you accountable FOREVER! Realize that initial victory can give a false sense of strength!
Learn how to do spiritual warfare. This means memorizing Scriptures and quoting them daily. We have detailed instructions for learning how to do effective spiritual warfare on our web pages.
Identify things that bring you pleasure in life that are not damaging! (e.g., sports, hiking, reading, WHOLESOME movies, shopping, etc.) Especially things that you can do with loved ones who will support you in these activities.
Identify places, situations, people, circumstances, behaviors, etc. that lead to temptation–and avoid them completely!
Be willing to get medical help. Doctors can prescribe medical treatments that may help in the early stages of overcoming addiction.
Be willing to spend time in rehab. Often rehab is the only way that some people can begin building a new way of life.
Be aggressive in looking for resources that might help you in your specific addiction. Try searching the Internet. Try browsing books on addictions in Christian book stores.
Leave no stone unturned! Put your whole heart into it! Half-hearted attempts at anything usually fail. Ask God to give you a passion for purity and holiness that will be a powerful demonstration to others of His mighty working in you–a passion that will bring Him great glory!
Memorize These Bible Verses!
Read through these verses daily. Pick one and memorize it. Quote it often–not just when you feel like you “need” it! Quote it so often that it becomes a part of you! When you have thoroughly engrafted it, pick another one and do the same with it. God’s Word is very powerful.
“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NAS95)
“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NAS95)
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NAS95)
“9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NAS95)
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” (Romans 7:18 NAS95)
“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 NAS95)
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NAS95)
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16 NAS95)
“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” (James 4:10 NAS95)
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.?”(1 John 1:9 NAS95)
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NAS95)
“23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matthew 5:23-24 NAS95)
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31 NAS95)
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 NAS95)
“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 NAS95)
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NAS95)
“5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NAS95)
“24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NAS95)