Friends & Family of Addicts & Dysfunctional People

I write this article at a point in my life when I have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic and a recovering narcotic addict. It is a timely message for me and one that needs to be written and well read by many people.

According to www.dictionary.com addiction means: "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."

From this, we learn that not all addictions are of drugs, alcohol or over-eating. They can also include video games, sex, shopping, spending money, working too much, exercise, internet surfing, undereating, illegal drugs, gambling, and even school/learning.

What does the Bible have to say about addiction?

There are various Scriptures related to addiction in the Bible:

Proverbs 21:17 The Message (MSG) You're addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.

Jeremiah 2:25 The Message (MSG) "Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, 'I can't help it. I'm addicted to alien gods. I can't quit.'

Ezekiel 20:7 The Message (MSG) "'At that time I told them, "Get rid of all the vile things that you've become addicted to. Don't make yourselves filthy with the Egyptian no-god idols. I alone am God, your God."

Hosea 4:15 The Message (MSG) "You've ruined your own life, Israel but don't drag Judah down with you! Don't go to the sex shrine at Gilgal, don't go to that sin city Bethel, Don't go around saying 'God bless you' and not mean it, taking God's name in vain. Israel is stubborn as a mule. How can God lead him like a lamb to open pasture? Ephraim is addicted to idols. Let him go. When the beer runs out, it's sex, sex, and more sex. Bold and sordid debauchery how they love it! The whirlwind has them in its clutches. Their sex-worship leaves them finally impotent."

John 3:19 The Message (MSG) "This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."

Ephesians 4:17 The Message (MSG) The Old Way Has to Go ] And so I insist and God backs me up on this that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

2 Timothy 3:1 The Message (MSG) [ Difficult Times Ahead ] Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people

Titus 1:7-9 (New American Standard Bible) 7For the (E)overseer must be above reproach as (F)God's steward, not (G)self-willed, not quick-tempered, not (H)addicted to wine, not pugnacious, (I)not fond of sordid gain, 8but (J)hospitable, (K)loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9(L)holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in (M)sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

2 Peter 2:17 The Message (MSG) There's nothing to these people they're dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they're dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they're addicted to corruption and they are they're enslaved.

Galatians 5:19 The Message (MSG) It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.

So what is it we can learn from these Scriptures about addictions? The first thing is that anything that takes your focus off of God and onto something else is an addiction and and a sinful one at that. We are a fan of this group or that singer or that actor/actress. I learned that to be a fan meant that I was addicted to that group, singer, actor/actress etc. It actually shocked me to learn this. But it makes sense. If we get so wrapped up in one of these, we take more time away from God than we should. It's okay to like a group, actor, singer etc. But it is wrong to devote more time and "love" to one of them than to the One who created them, you and the talents they have acquired.

Do you spend as much time with God and focusing on God as you do obsessing about the people/person of whom you are a fan? Are you a fan of God above all else? If not, it is time to have God search your heart and show you what is truly there to see and perhaps a time to change.

According to Proverbs 21:17 The Message (MSG) You're addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.

In other words, if you are addicted to one of the things such as alcohol, nicotene, drugs, shopping, gambling etc., no matter how much of it you get, you will never be satisfied. You are going to always want more. One high is enough, you think, but when that high wears off and you start to feel reality set it, you want another high, then another and there you have it, an addiction. All of a sudden, you can't get along in life without your drug of choice. Any addiction other than an addiction to God and His love and favour, is one that is empty, will never satisfy and will only lead to destruction.

Jeremiah 2:25 The Message (MSG) "Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, 'I can't help it. I'm addicted to alien gods. I can't quit.' "

This states another problem with becoming addicted. Once you start something and it becomes an addiction the usual response is, 'I can't help it. I'm addicted.' What they neglect to say is that they are addicted to a god instead of God Himself. And that takes away from God all that He asks in the 10 Commandments. You shall have no other gods before me..in other words, no other gods BUT ME. Once you are addicted, you are an addict for life and you will struggle, even if you get clean, for the rest of your life to not go back to that way of life.

Ezekiel 20:7 The Message (MSG) "'At that time I told them, "Get rid of all the vile things that you've become addicted to. Don't make yourselves filthy with the Egyptian no-god idols. I alone am God, your God."

God related being addicted to being like the Egyptian idol-worshipers. To worship anything or anybody but the Almighty God, is to be like the godless, sinful, egotistical Egyptians who forced God's children into slavery. That too was an addiction for the Egyptians...to have slaves and to punish people thinking they were a better people than the Israelites. To think you are better than somebody is to be addicted to yourself, your ego and not realizing that God made all people equal in His Image.

Hosea 4:15 The Message (MSG) "You've ruined your own life, Israel but don't drag Judah down with you! Don't go to the sex shrine at Gilgal, don't go to that sin city Bethel, Don't go around saying 'God bless you' and not mean it, taking God's name in vain. Israel is stubborn as a mule. How can God lead him like a lamb to open pasture? Ephraim is addicted to idols. Let him go. When the beer runs out, it's sex, sex, and more sex. Bold and sordid debauchery how they love it! The whirlwind has them in its clutches. Their sex-worship leaves them finally impotent."

One of the greatest problems with people who have addictions, is that they drag other people down with them. These people will either become enablers, who find ways of making the addict happy or they will try to appease them, and try to not upset them or make them angry. To do either makes a co-dependent pair.

You are a co-dependent because you don't want to hurt the person and therefore provide a way for them to keep their addiction, or you don't confront them and set boundaries allowing them to trample all over you and your life. They are co-dependent because they know how to push your buttons and they are co-dependent on youi saying it's okay for them to do what they are doing by not saying what they are doing is hurting not only them, but you. People with addictions will try and take others down the pit with them, so we have to be strong and set boundaries to protect ourselves and also to protect them from becoming dependent on us.

John 3:19 The Message (MSG) "This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."

Anybody who has an addiction, is in denial to God and they hate the light which means they hate God. Even as Christians, we can have addictions and to have an addiction means we love that other "thing" over God. That is a form of denial and a form of hate toward the God of all love. Do we really want to be known as God-haters?

Ephesians 4:17 The Message (MSG) The old way has to go. And so I insist and God backs me up on this that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. "

To heal of addiction, the OLD WAY HAS TO GO. In other words, a person has to get help, go through detox, seek professional help, etc. Anything that will help the person toss off the old ways and fully rely on God. There is only one healthy addiction, and that is to be addicted to God.

To have an addiction to drugs, alcohol etc., is to lose touch with reality as we all know that drugs give people a false high, a false sense of strength, a false peace etc. When they do so, they have no sense of wisdom, they have no feelings, they do things they likely won't remember, they lose things and get involved in other forms of addiction such as sex or gambling etc.

In order for God to work in the life of an addict, the addict first has to admit they have a problem (i.e., Alcoholics Anonymous the first step). They then have to seek out help to beat the addiction and leave it behind for good. That's where AA or Christians in Recovery comes in, or having a therapist, going to detox, rehab and so on. Having a pastor or Spiritual leader/counselor would be of good benefit as well. They can keep you lined up with the Word of God, which ultimately has the healing power. You must first want to stop being an addict for any change to come, then God can work in your life and make all things new.

2 Timothy 3:1 The Message (MSG) Don't be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They'll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they're animals. Stay clear of these people."

This is the time we are living in now. People are self-absorbed in their work, their families, their education, their own desires and lusts. Everywhere you turn people are crying for more money. While there are some that actually do need more money such as older people and people who are disabled and on fixed incomes for good reasons, there are many who don't need more money, and yet they focus on one thing... getting more of it. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, clothes to wear and a few people who love you and consider your friends, YOU ARE RICH!!!! Anything over and above that is a blessing from God. Next time you want more money, take a look around your home, garage, basement, etc., and see the clutter laying around, the trinkets, possessions...etc. Do you REALLY NEED MORE??????

And now more than ever, people are trying to promote themselves. You can post your resume online for all to see, join up to any of many social websites, and so on, all in the name of getting your name out there so people know you and want what you have. Profanity is something that has become common place. I listen to my iPod when I go out because the language that comes out of mouths nowadays, especially from young people, is disgusting and makes me cringe. You can't walk 10 feet in a crowd without hearing half a dozen curse words or various profanities. And to think we have young children growing up hearing this. Slandering, impulsiveness, savage, wild, treacherous, ruthless etc. Just look at the number of young mothers we have today. I look around the city I live in and shake my head.

Children are giving birth to children at an alarmingly increasing rate. There are ways to prevent this but because they are wild and impulsive, young babies come into this world being cared for by children. Times have changed from when I was in school. We said the Lord's Prayer, sang the National Anthem and God Save The Queen. Now you barely hear the National Anthem without chatter that is louder than the Anthem being sung. Depravity has surely fallen on our land and may God have mercy on us.

For more information, you can study: Titus 1:7-9 (New American Standard Bible) For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. All of them relate to this depravity of our failing values and morals.

2 Peter 2:17 The Message (MSG) "There's nothing to these people they're dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they're dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they're addicted to corruption and they are they're enslaved."

These people have problems. But their biggest problem is that they are headed toward a BLACK HOLE IN HELL and they don't know it. So who is going to tell them? Who is going to be responsible for at least trying to show them a way out, a way of peace, where you don't need drugs or an addiction to be happy, peaceful and content in life? Where does that responsibility lie? In you and me, who know the way, the truth and the life.

Galatians 5:19 The Message (MSG) It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. This isn't the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom. Addictions cause harm in more ways than one.

Addictions can cause physical harm, especially if it is a chemical dependency. They cause emotional damage bringing a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, happiness, lack of will-power and more. They cause depression because they are an addict and they cause anxiety when they don't have their drug of choice to keep them calm. It can cause brain damage and even death! And who wants to die a death...a final death without ever being able to see Jesus or worship Him? Who really wants to spend life, and eternity, in Hell, a dark hole full of pain, fire, sorrow, etc.?

Addiction divides homes, families, friends and even such things as businesses and churches. It can cause feelings of loneliness, even if you are in a crowd of people. Addictions can cause paranoia, thinking that people are saying things about you, or that you see things which are hallucinations and more. They can cause increased temper and violent outbursts.

Addictions are not pretty and they are not easy to give up once addicted. The best advice, don't try it if it doesn't line up with God's word. God's Word, the Bible, has all the answers for everybody's life, both in the past and yet to come. It is Life's Handbook.

So what do you do when you have a friend or family member who has an addiction?

Philippians 4:19 - "God shall supply all your needs...in Christ Jesus." Remind the person that God supplies all we need and remind yourself that God will help you through this phase of trial with what you need too.

Proverbs 13:25 - "The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite." If the person is a Christian, we can remind them that God has enough to meet their needs, satisfy their desires and more, and to get into the Word of God to learn more about it. If they are not Christian, let them know that there is a God who provides all our needs and it doesn't cost anything, but allowing Jesus to live in our hearts.

John 8:82,36 - "The truth shall set you free." Admitting you have an addiction is the first step to recovery. To admit it is the hardest thing to do. Once you have done that, you can move on to the next step of working on the steps to get better, whether that is with AA, or a counselor etc. But to admit the truth of something is to feel a burden lifted off your shoulders. Countless people I have met in life have told me that when they admitted ___________ they felt a heaviness lift off them and they shine like the sun as they speak.

Galatians 5:1 - "It was for freedom that Christ set us free." To be free from addiction is to realize that it is Christ who set us free. We did not free ourselves. We chose the path of freedom, but that path would not be there had it not been for the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.

II Corinthians 3:5 - "not adequate in ourselves...adequacy is from God." We alone can conquer nothing, but with God's help, we can conquer and overcome anything. By ourselves it is impossible, but with God ALL things are possible. Lean on God when you want to get well and don't feel like you can do it on your own. You can't...only God can free you if you allow Him to.

II Chronicles 20:15 - "battle is not yours, but God's" When Jesus rose from the grave, He had won the victory. It doesn't matter what our battle is: addiction, illness, or otherwise, Jesus won the fight years ago. It is finished, the battle is over, It is finished, there'll be no more war, It is finished, the end of the conflict, It is finished, and Jesus is Lord (Bill Gaither). We don't have to fight it. God won the fight, won the battle. And when Satan tries to remind you of your past, remind him of his future...in Hell forever, tortured with the other souls who did not follow God's way.

There is freedom for addicts. The main issue is if they want to get better or do they actually enjoy the conflicting life they are in?

Sometimes habits are hard to break, especially if life seems hopeless. We are to be the shining light in the world, the ones who show people the path to freedom. Not only will the path to Spiritual freedom free them from living a sinful life, but they will see that God has the power to free them from anything that bogs them down, takes away from His glory and is leading to their destruction.

As for my friend, my boundaries are as follows:
He cannot call me when he is drinking.
He cannot be with me if he is drinking.
He is not allowed to curse in my presence.
If he does want to see me or talk to me, he has to meet me at a safe place, one where we are both clients are there are people supervising the centre.
He cannot talk about his problems with me until he starts going to his support groups.

These are the basic rules. They keep me safe, because his anger rises when he is drinking, by throwing things, swearing more etc. They keep him safe from doing something he'd regret with me. They show him that I will not tolerate verbal abuse of any kind and I won't tolerate certain attitudes and language regardless of how good a friend you are to me.

I am looking into attending Al-Anon myself so I can learn better ways to help me and help him. He's been a good friend for going on 3 years and he usually can snap out of his relapses, but until he does and until he can prove himself, the rules apply. By me going to Al-anon, I can learn to better look after me, how to not enable him and for me to get support to vent on how his behavior affects me.

We, as the people who are not addicts but support them or live with them, also need to get support by attending Al-Anon meetings. This gives us a safe place to talk without the rage that can come from a person who has an addiction.

If you want to read a really good book about this entire subject, get the book Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie. It is specifically handed out, usually for free, at Al-Anon and AA meetings. I'm currently reading this book and it is very good and insightful. I will openly admit that I am co-dependent, and there is nothing wrong with admitting it. I'm working on change and I'm working on how I can better myself without hurting him or me.

Jesus said we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. If we truly love the people we know who have addictions, we would do the right thing and offer them some hope. It may not happen overnight, but eventually, the message will get through and then the rest is up the person who has the addiction.

Father, please forgive me if I have made gods in this world and placed them ahead of You. I want You to be first in my life in every area and aspect. Cause me to look to Your Word when I am seeking something that could lead to an addiction. Cause me to live by Your Words and not a bottle, some powder, other people or any other thing that would come ahead of You. Make me new again, Lord and make me strong in You. I know that with Your strength and Your support, the battle is won and with You, I will beat the addictions I struggle with. Thank you for paying for my freedom. May I never abuse it or put any person or anything ahead of You. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.

~ * ~

Copyright 2007-2014 by Sheri Liegh Adams.
All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.
Sheri lives in Canada.

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