Towards a Christian Understanding of Addiction

Some initial thoughts

There is any amount of help offered to people with addictions on how to break free, but what interests me is where does the power in the addiction come from? Take heroin addiction for example. It's as if the will gets taken over by an outside force. The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control according to Paul (Gal. 5:22-3). In addiction, these are sent flying, especially the last, which suggets a spiritual dimension to addiction.

The demonised people Jesus met in the Gospels had a problem with self-control. In the early 1990s, I once attended an instructive day conference on addiction at St Andrew's Church, Chorleywood. I asked the question, "Can you explain the relationship between addiction and demonisation?" and received a blank look from the speaker. I'm still looking for an answer now.

Here's my current thinking. Jesus taught that we are to love God and love others, putting self last. For whatever reason, the addicted person is someone who has put self first instead. So although it may not appear that someone injecting himself with a drug in search of a high is committing a sin, it is the turning the back on God and others that is the mistake. To live for myself in this way is to give the devil a field day in my life.

Therefore, whatever programme I as an addict try to follow to get free, I would do well to decide to give my life to God and dedicate myself to loving and caring for others as a first step.

David Pennant, Woking, UK


P.S. Thomas Carder of the Childcare Action Project seems to agree with my view above. I enjoyed The Demon of Addiction by a recovering alcoholic in his sixteenth year, comparing himself to Legion in Mark 5. See also Does-jesus-heal-drug-addicts.