What does the Bible say about Addiction? How it affects the brain, and more!
Christian Resources for Addicts and Family of Addicts
The One Year Recovery Prayer Devotional: 365 Daily Meditations toward Discovering Your True Purpose
Come to Me, I Will Give You Rest: Recovery Journal: Daily Inspirational Sober Health Tracker, Devotional, Great for Rehab Programs, Recovering Addicts
Jesus and the Addict: Twelve Bible Studies for People Getting Free from Drugs
Tyndale NLT Life Recovery Bible (Hardcover): 2nd Edition – Addiction Bible Tied to 12 Steps of Recovery for Help with Drugs, Alcohol, Personal Struggles – With Meeting Guide
Just for Today: Daily Meditations for Recovering Addicts
Loving an Addict: Gospel Reflections of Hope and Healing
New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional
I Want to Change My Life: How to Overcome Anxiety, Depression and Addiction
Celebrate Recovery 365 Daily Devotional: Healing from Hurts, Habits, and Hang-Ups
One Day at a Time: The Devotional for Overcomers
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How Addiction Changes You
Addiction takes the lives of thousands every year while affecting the lives of millions of those loved ones of addicts. Unfortunately, addiction doesn’t only affect the user, but those around them as well. Typically, once addicts get to a certain point in their active addiction they lie, steal, and cheat to feed the monster within them. All the while their family and friends are doing everything they can to try to save their lives as they watch the bright person they once knew wither away.
Addiction Changes the Brain
I wanted to share some about how addiction changes your brain and what the Bible mentions about addiction to hopefully help those see no matter what path to recovery one takes, one should always have God as their foundation. I pray this speaks to those struggling as God never called us to live in bondage.
Addiction Makes you a Slave
God never intended for us to be slaves. He came to set us free. Unfortunately, addiction changes one’s brain chemistry. What may have started as a choice is no longer something they choose. You often hear uneducated people say addicts do it to themselves, or why didn’t they just stop, they literally can’t. That’s why no matter what, one should never stop praying for your loved one who is struggling. If you don’t continue to pray for them, then who will?
Substance abuse changes their brain chemistry.
Some Areas that Addiction Affects
Drug and alcohol addiction affects major areas of the brain as noted in this snippet of an article below:
“Drugs and alcohol affect three primary areas of the brain: the brain stem, the limbic system, and the cerebral cortex. When substances enter the brain, they interfere with its normal processing and can eventually lead to dramatic changes in the neurons and brain circuits – changes that can still be present even after an individual has stopped taking drugs.”
- Brain imaging technology has demonstrated that addiction is a brain disease by delineating profound disruptions in the specific brain circuits affected by addiction. Repeated drug exposure “resets” these circuits toward compulsive behavior so that a person’s control over the desire to seek and use drugs is compromised, despite devastating consequences.
- Changes from addiction go beyond the brain’s reward system to include regions involved in memory, learning, impulse control, stress reactivity, and more.
- By causing abnormal regulation of key brain receptors (e.g., glutamate, dopamine), addictive drugs modify the strength of connections between neurons. This finding casts a new light on the phenomenon of drug addiction as a process of maladaptive learning that over time can become an automatic, compulsive behavior.
- Genes account for about 50 percent of a person’s risk of becoming addicted, and environmental factors influence the effect of these genes.
Sourced from: Caron.org
Can you overcome addiction through Willpower?
As you can see, there is a huge source of scientifically proven studies that show addiction isn’t a choice and changes the user from within. It takes a lot of willpower, a strong support group, and a yearning to change to pull yourself out of addiction. However, usually willpower alone cannot pull you out of addiction, if it could there wouldn’t be thousands dying from addiction.
Addiction is a Daily Battle
No addict wants to be an addict. They don’t want to be homeless, an outcast, looked down on, and judged by society. Next time you see an addict, I pray you don’t judge them as harshly. You have no clue the daily battle and struggle they are enduring. We are not called to judge others. Open your heart and love the addict longing for a chance at life. It gets to the point that they don’t control their addiction, instead, it controls them.
Withdrawal Can be Deadly
Depending on a user’s drug of choice, the withdrawal of stopping alone can kill them. Most users have to be medically weaned off and closely supervised, so abruptly stopping isn’t an option. Always consult a professional when finding a route for recovery. Remember that there are different roads to recovery and no one’s experience is the same.
What does the Bible say about Addiction?
The Bible says our body is a holy temple. We were bought a price and are to honor God with our bodies. Putting substances in our bodies that are harmful is dishonoring God. Substance abuse typically makes people do things they would never do as well. This is why the Bible warns us to keep a sober mind.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
What does the Bible say about being sober?
In Peter, the Bible tells us to be alert and of sober mind. Here he is giving a warning as we make bad choices when aren’t sober. You will see people do and say things they would never do sober. Addiction has been around for centuries. Take heed to the warnings of the Bible. They are there for a reason, to protect us from falling into the traps and enslavement of the enemy.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
What does the Bible say about Temptation?
The temptations we face are no different than those faced before us. In Corinthians, it tells us God is faithful, and he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can withstand. It goes on to say that he will provide an escape so we can endure. Sometimes this may just be that little voice in your head that tells you that you shouldn’t do this, that it is wrong. The more you yield to this, the easier it will be.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
“Can’t avoid temptation, but can Overcome it”
I once heard it said that you cannot avoid temptation, but you can overcome it! Do not feel discouraged and dismayed when you continue suffering from temptation. There will always be a temptation. But, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can continue to overcome that temptation. The more you turn from it, the easier it is to overcome it.
Stop Yielding to Temptation
The more you yield to your temptations and sin, the easier it is to continue to sin, and the harder it is to come out of it. Remember, it may be hard, but it’s not impossible. It is better to go through some pain for a little while than to be a slave to your addiction until it eventually takes your life in one way or another.
What does the Bible say about remaining steadfast under trial?
God never tempts us. When we are tempted the Bible says we are being lured and enticed by our own desires. Then, these desires give birth to sin, and sin when fully grown brings forth death. We will be blessed beyond measure when we remain steadfast under trial. James says when we are steadfast under trial and have stood the test we will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Submit to God and Resist the devil
Further in James, it tells us to submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from us. Don’t allow yourself to get trapped in the cycle of addiction and sin. Submit to God in all your thoughts, actions, and ways and the devil will flee from you. It doesn’t say it will be easy, but you can bet it will be worth it to be free!
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Bad Company Ruins Good Morals
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can continue running with the same crowd you do drugs and drink alcohol with. The Bible tells us not to be deceived that bad company ruins good morals. Those people you run with in active addiction are not your friends and do not care about you.
Focus on Getting Yourself Better
You have to focus on getting yourself better. Then, one day if they get clean and you reconnect you can be friends again. But, when you are newly recovering you cannot run around with bad company.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Corinthians 15:33
God will Restore and Strengthen
Never lose hope. Peter says after we have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal Glory, will Himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. God will restore you. Have the faith in His word to believe what He promises us. Stand firm on His promises. God is one person you don’t have to worry about breaking His promises.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you
1 Peter 5:10
You Will be Free Indeed
And remember, who the Son sets free is free indeed. Allow God to set you free today. Do not go on living a life of sin knowing that none of us are promised tomorrow. This doesn’t have to be your life. God loves you and wants you to be free.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Seek Forgiveness. Repent.
Remember, recovery is taking one step in the right direction. It didn’t take one day to get where you are, so don’t expect it to take one day to get your life back where it needs to be. It is going to take time and that is okay. Some days it’s going to be taking it one minute at a time. The important thing to remember is if you slip up you don’t have to keep going down that path. Seek forgiveness, repent, and get back on the path of recovery.
God Can Use You
In another post, I discuss how Paul struggled with habitual sin. He said what he didn’t want to do he did, and what he knew he should do and wanted to, he didn’t do. When you read about Paul you see how God still used him in a mighty way. Just because you have a past, does not mean God cannot use you.
Let Your Mess Become Your Message.
If anything, God can use someone with a past more than someone without one. Because of what you have gone through, you can relate to others in a way that no one else can. Let your mess become your message. Allow God to use you and your past to give glory to God for what he has pulled you from.
You Can’t run from God
There is nowhere you can run that’s too far that God can’t pull you back from. He will pull you from the farthest corners of the Earth. When I was struggling with my addiction and was consumed with fear, the uncertainty of the future, in the middle of the night God put this verse of my heart. Mind you, at the time I was so far from a Christian and living a Godly life, I hardly knew verses in the Bible.
Isaiah Chatper 41
I grew up in Church and I knew the well-known verses everyone knows, but I didn’t know a lot that was in the Bible. So when I woke up and kept having Isaiah chapter 41:8-14 I got up and went to find a Bible in the house, got a pen and paper and wrote down the verse so I wouldn’t forget, and then went looking to see what this was that kept repeating in my mind.
Afraid and Discouraged
When I opened it, I was in disbelief. This is what I had been struggling with and praying about. Having thoughts that God had thrown me away because of all I had done. Afraid and discouraged that I would never be able to overcome this. Fearful enemies I had made simply by getting sober would try to come after me or my family. This verse hit on every point I had been struggling with internally. I fully believe God can speak to you through stories in the Bible.
“But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. “See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing. You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing. For I hold you by your right hand—I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the LORD, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’
There is a God
When I read this, I was amazed, and it confirmed in my heart God had not given up on me. I had never read Isaiah or realized it was a book in the Bible at the time so this could be nothing but divine intervention. Throughout my journey of going back to the God I knew and loved as a child, I had many experiences like this. Experiences that proved to me there is no other explanation, other than there is a God!
No Doubt that God is Real
When people ask me how I know there’s a God, all these thoughts come to my mind. There will never be a single doubt in my mind God is real. God saved me and I know he can save you or your loved one as well. My mom and family never stopped praying for me. Through the hurts, the pains, and all the ups and downs, they never gave up on God saving me.
Never Stop Seeking God
I sincerely believe had they given up, I wouldn’t be here. I thank God every day that I have a praying family. This is why I urge you to never give up seeking God even in active addiction, and for loved ones of addicts to never stop praying and trying to save the addict.
Addiction Doesn’t Define You
Most people when they find out about my addiction are confused that I haven’t told them. But, for me, there isn’t a reason to unless it’s to give glory to God about how he saved me. Addiction doesn’t define me just as your worst choice and mistake doesn’t define you.
Child of the Most High
My identity is in Christ, not in my sin. I do not identify as an addict; I identify as a child of the Most High God.
I am who He says I am
I will never allow the enemy to define who I am, God defines who I am. God says I am chosen, called, forgiven, free, loved, and more. The enemy tries to say I am condemned, unforgiven, hated, in bondage, a slave to fear, and more. Never let the enemy tell you who you are.
Your Addiction isn’t Your Identity
Confess and allow yourself to be healed. God cannot heal what you do not confess. You must confess your sins to the throne of God to be healed. God can set you free and restore you. Your addiction is not your identity! God has plans for your life and there is always hope.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
If you enjoyed this, you may also like our Addiction Devotional or our post on, Things Addicts Wish Their Loved Ones Knew.
Prayer for Addiction:
I come to you today for forgiveness for my sins. I know my body is a holy temple and I have not treated it as such. Help me to repent, to turn away from, my addiction. I struggle and despite my yearning to stop, and always promising this is the last time, I cannot stop. I realize I need divine intervention and I am not capable on my own to conquer this. Please guide me onto your path. Show me the way to recovery. Place people in my life to help guide me on the way to everlasting life. I ask for your conviction when I do and think things that are unpleasing to you. Surround me with those who will hold me accountable even when I don’t want them to. Overwhelm me with your Holy Spirit so that I think more like you and less like my flesh. Help me to fulfill your will for my life and not my fleshly desires. Thank you for not giving up on me no matter how much I have turned my back on you. Your word says if I resist the devil, he will flee from me. Today I will start resisting my desires. Help me to remember your word when attacks from the enemy come on. I want to be able to recognize the way out you offer when I am tempted and the strength to take it. I will remember who I am in You when the enemy tries to tell me who I am. Thank you for you everlasting mercy and grace and knowing that it is new each morning.
In your Holy name we pray,
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What is the impact of substances on the… – Caron Treatment Centers
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Hi Nicole, I am addicted to sugar. I never considered this to be an addiction but they say it reacts the same way in the brain as drugs and alcohol do. I feel the only way that people with addictions can get some help and be able to stick to it is with the help of the Lord. I have tried many times to stay away from sugar but I never included God in my journey to getting away from sugar. That’s prob why nothing has seemed to help.
Hey Cori! You are right. Studies say sugar has a similar effect on the brains reward system as drugs do. With it being in almost everything we eat, & on every shelf, can make it hard to stay away from. I too struggle with sugar addiction. I agree 100% that it’s rare to conquer an addiction without the help of the lord. And remember, there will Always be temptation even once you start to overcome it, but temptation isn’t a sin and you don’t have to give in. I’ve in recent months switched to sugar free items in everything I can and I can tell a huge difference in my teeth, sleeping patterns, and more! I’ll be praying for you! You can do this! Give it to God. Try making small changes and taking steps with eliminating it from your diet. You’ll be surprised to see after awhile of not keeping it in the house you don’t really think about it!
Addiction really makes you a slave. Hope more people realize it and try to overcome addictions.
It truly does. I pray anyone still struggling through addiction finds the strength through God to overcome it. ♥️
This really brings into perspective something I wasn’t able to see. My oldest brother is an addict and this is so enlightening!
I’m thankful to hear that you found this enlightening. I really want to shed light on both sides of addiction. I used to be so judgmental against addicts and God truly humbled me. I pray God puts a hedge of protection around your brother and delivers him from his addiction.
This is a balanced treatment of addiction and the biological and spiritual issues surrounding the process. The brain chemistry discussion is particularly helpful here. Thanks for posting this, and great job working through your own healing!
Yes! It really is. It’s rare to recover from addiction without addressing all aspects. I hope to help people see that those who struggle with addiction are not a lost cause. Many recover and go on to live productive lives but do not speak up due to the stigma. I hope this encourages more people to share their story!