One of Satan’s most subtle and crippling ploys is to snare people into a cycle of addiction. Once addicted, it takes extreme determination to break free. But, praise God, He always makes a way for us to escape any of Satan’s tactics against us.
The process of becoming addicted to something works in a similar manner no matter what the object of the addiction. It always starts with a desire to please ourselves. Satan is always at the heart of any addiction as he encourages the thought processes that tell us that we need to feed our sinful desires, first and foremost. There may be numerous environmental circumstances that add impetus to a person’s tendency to engage in activities that become addictive, but that does not negate the sin factor of attempting to please self above all else. We are most familiar with addictions to drugs and alcohol. Addiction overtakes a person to the exclusion of other excellent things.
An addiction begins when we start doing something or”taking something” and we receive great satisfaction from it. The problem arises when we feel that we have to have more and more in order to have the same degree of satisfaction that we had at the beginning. Perhaps using the example of drugs or alcohol would be the easiest way to explain it. If a person smokes marijuana once and gets an enjoyable feeling from doing so, he/she is likely to want to try it again. It doesn’t take long before the feeling that was initially achieved from the first couple of marijuana cigarettes fails to give the same “high.” Therefore, it now takes smoking more of them more days per week to achieve the same level of thrill as the first one did. Soon the person is addicted to the marijuana and wants more and more as often as possible.
I will refrain from getting into the question of whether marijuana is physically addicting or not, because that is not my point here. I realize that some would say that it is not addictive. Whether marijuana itself creates a bodily need for more and more or whether a person just decides he or she wants more is not the issue. The point I am making is that addiction begins with something that gives a little satisfaction, but eventually requires more and more to achieve that same level of “enjoyment.” I will hasten to add that most hardcore drug users will say that they started with marijuana and became dissatisfied because they no longer got the same thrill and required something more powerful.
It is easier perhaps to consider the process of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. In this case I will use alcohol. A person can become addicted to wine, beer, whiskey or other powerful alcoholic beverages. It isn’t having one of these drinks occasionally that causes a person to become an alcoholic. The process here again, starts with the person getting a feeling that they find satisfying after drinking it. Often it is a feeling of relaxation or stress relief. It becomes addictive when just one occasional drink does not produce the same satisfying feelings and therefore a second or more is needed to produce the effects. Eventually, the human body becomes accustomed to having a certain level of alcohol streaming through the veins and the person tries to keep that level up in order to feel “good.” However, soon the “feeling good” goes away as the alcohol controls the person and they are now addicted. Stress and other life issues may aggravate the problem and the person uses the alcohol to cover up bad thoughts and feelings. Family life, jobs and friendships can soon be destroyed by the addicting powers of the alcohol.
Satan will have won a great victory in a person’s life if he can achieve the state of addiction and seeming loss of control of healthy choices. It may seem to the person in this circumstance that all is lost and there is no hope. That is exactly what Satan wants us to think. However, God has the upper hand in all situations, including addictions. There is nothing too powerful for a person to overcome through Christ. Always remember that “…the snare is broken and we have escaped.” Psalm 124:7 Satan cannot keep us ensnared when we trust Christ to free us.
In Part II on addiction I will address what actually goes on in a person’s brain when an addiction develops. In that Blog I will use the example of pornography addiction to make the case. Watch for that entry next week. Finally, Part III will address the hope that we have through Christ in breaking free from addictions of any kind.