Breaking the cycle of addiction

You may feel as though your addiction has you firmly in its grip, but there is a way out.

When the word ‘addiction’ is mentioned, we often think of the most life-altering ones, such as drugs and pornography, but any sort of unwanted habit can have a significant impact on our mental and physical well-being. Whether it’s coffee, sugar, shopping, alcohol, cleaning, gambling, soap operas, social media, cigarettes, prescription medications or sex, it is possible to overcome your habit. Here’s how.

  1. Bring it before God. This is a really important first step. God already knows about it, so set aside your guilt and shame and have an honest conversation with your heavenly Father. Repent of any wrongdoing and ask for his help in beating your addiction. He cares for you, and he wants to help.
  2. Talk to someone about it. Sometimes our addictions are embarrassing to admit, but it can really help to have someone who will support you in your journey to freedom. This might be a spouse, family member, friend, pastor, GP or counsellor. If you really can’t bring yourself to talk to someone you know, it might be worth ringing a helpline anonymously for support.
  3. Stop feeding your habit. This is when things start to get tough, but if you stop feeding your addiction it will eventually die. That might mean having a clear-out of contraband in your home, taking a break from electronic devices or entering a detox programme to deal with substance abuse. You may need to cut up your credit cards, give yourself a curfew or block certain websites on your computer. You may even need to avoid other people who encourage you to feed your habit.
  4. Keep praying. You may find that you get off to a really good start. You’re determined to end this thing and start living a better, healthier life. But you’ll need to stay close to God to keep your momentum going when things get difficult, which they inevitably will. You may find it easy to knock the coffee on a good day, but what happens after a couple of sleepless nights? The gambling may be avoidable during the working week, but what happens when the new football season starts or you hit the races for a work event? Keep talking to God, allowing him to speak into your life as you take the necessary steps to end your addiction.
  5. Be accountable. If you were able to share about your addiction with someone you trust, ask if they will act as an accountability partner. This can be really helpful on those challenging days when you need a bit of cheering on to reach your goal. They may need to check in daily to begin with, making sure you’re staying away from the things that typically trigger your addiction and that you have the practical support you need. If your accountability partner is a Christian, ask them to pray with and for you.
  6. Replace it with something. Sometimes our habits take up a significant amount of our time, money or thought life. It may be helpful to find something healthier to devote your time to. It might be exercise, travel or a new hobby such as photography or baking. Give yourself something else to focus on and enjoy. Just make sure you don’t become addicted to the new habit!
  7. Get professional help if you need it. If your addiction is not something you can easily break by yourself, even with the support of a loved one, reach out to a professional. This might be a medical professional or a Christian counsellor. Whoever it is, don’t struggle alone. You may need medication, practical support or expert advice that isn’t accessible to you elsewhere. Why not contact Premier Lifeline on 0300 111 0101 as a first step?

1 Corinthians 6:12 says: “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.”