Understanding Addiction

Addiction is defined as the quality of being addicted. It is the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. Not all dependence is hard addiction; some areas are considered habituation, which also takes into account stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, and some psychological issues. However, in hard addiction the effects are physically recognizable in the body. 

Hard addiction exhibits itself by producing tolerance and physical dependence on a habit-forming substance. When the body is challenged by the substance, it will make the corresponding adjustments (biochemical, physiological, and psychological) to meet this challenge. At this point, the body responds by requiring the continued presence of the foreign substance to maintain normal function. Even though the body continues to depend on the substance, the tolerance and duration of the effects shrink, requiring the individual to take the drug either more often or in greater amounts to achieve the effect desired. Ultimately, the individual has a very high level of drug use with a correspondingly high level of tolerance. 

This is why addicts find themselves in deteriorating conditions. The addict is driven both by compulsion of the mind and desperation of the body. 

Is there hope? Absolutely! Since the mind and the body are intricately related, we must consider both in light of God’s Word when dealing with addiction. 

Scripture explains that there is a hunger and thirst in the human heart that cannot be quenched except by the Spirit of God. Scripture also says that the heart mistakenly seeks to quench this hunger and thirst by the means of this world. Since hunger and thirst affect both mind and body, we can see how the dynamics of addiction takes shape. When the spirit of a person is anxious, hurting, oppressed, or in any form of want, it is compelled to relieve or stimulate itself through the senses of the body. 

The physical senses are a powerful influence that instinctively demand attention when the mental, emotional, or psychological systems are craving it. The drive for relief or happiness is seen in every human heart to varying degrees. For the Christian, the secret to true and lasting happiness is accomplished through the filling of the Spirit. For those who are not walking in the Spirit, the pursuit of happiness is found in the filling of the spirit (the “spirit” with a lower case “s”). A spirit filling rather than a Spirit filling results in false happiness and continued craving. In every human heart, one of these (the Spirit or the spirit) will be deprived and the other attended to. The outcome of that choice will be evident, especially in the addict.

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