Is It A Disease

AddictionI have shied away from this topic simply because it is very volatile, but lately it keeps coming up and I keep having to clarify my thinking to myself and others. If you are easily offended by straight talking and a firm opinion that is seated in the Word of God then this is probably not the post from me you want to read. Here we go.

Addiction-“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” Nowhere in that definition does it state that an addiction is a disease. I will capitulate that when someone is wrapped up in addiction there is a dis-ease in their very being, but there is no disease. Addiction is a choice each and every time a person ingests their drug of choice they have made a decision. 

For addiction to be a disease there would have to be several things that are true about it. First it would have to be involuntary or a result of a lifestyle habit. Secondly anyone could come down with the disease; two year olds would all of a sudden become alcoholics and 6 year olds would without warning be heroin addicts. Thirdly no matter how deeply buried it is there would be absolutely no ability within the person to change their circumstances by their actions. I know the argument can be made for things like an obese person can correct diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol by losing weight, but it’s a correction not an eradication.

Trust me this declaration does not come easy. It’s only after years of watching a person that I love most in this world struggle to get themselves clean and sober, seeing it happen and many many discussions about it all along with agreement with this person that no matter how we try to pretty it up addiction is a choice.

The world has worked to cover up sin, make it pretty or acceptable and this area is one good example of that. Calling addiction disease is another excuse for the addict to continue in their behavior, and an easy out for the rest of the world to not address the elephant in the room.

We have been spinning our wheels for decades thinking that the processes we have in place are working to arrest the issue of addiction, but if that were true why is there a rise in heroin addiction and death? We as the families pay thousands of dollars for rehab as it stands right now, for which the recidivism rate is 60% and then are surprised that the addict goes back to their old ways. So we try rehab again and it is a repeat of before. Sometimes it works and the addict does stay clean and sober, but relying on sometimes is a dangerous game for us all.

Addicts are chasing the “feel good” because they don’t feel good. There is a hole so big inside them that filling it up becomes an absolute obsession. However, we don’t point them toward God, we point them toward rehab. We all know as believers (at lest I hope we do) that the Word of God never returns void, since that is true then it would make sense that it is the perfect thing along with the love of Jesus to fill up the void in a person’s heart.

In the book of Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The addict needs to know that there is someone else that will carry the burden that they are trying to avoid.  They need to be taught as in the book of Ephesians 4:21-24, “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” And they need to be made aware from 1 Corinthians 10:13 that there is a way out, “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.”

None of this is a perfect solution because we live in meat suits and are tempted each day, but it is better than all the rest and it has a pretty impressive success rate. It’s worth a try.

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