By Chris Chandler, MA, LMHC, CSAT-C, Bellevue Christian Counseling
References “The Last Addiction: Why Self-Help is Not Enough” by Sharon A. Hersh, M.A., L.P.C.
Addiction is a physical condition. Nevertheless, it depends on manipulating psychology to achieve its ends. Substance addiction is a physical dependency on a chemical. Your body becomes accustomed to experiencing the chemical and goes haywire when you try to take it away. So your brain goes to work to keep that from happening. How does your brain do this? Pride.
‘I Can Stop Anytime I Want’
Pride says you are the one in control, not your addiction. No addict is in control. Pride just makes it seem that way. As the addiction strengthens, it becomes more difficult to keep handling life. You begin messing up at work and flaking on obligations. Your kids don’t understand why you do not look after them like you used to. Pride makes excuses for all of this. As Kersh points out, most addicts do not realize how badly their life has deteriorated. It happens incrementally. And pride helps you not to notice.
Addicts are desperate to avoid admitting the stranglehold addiction has on their life. With such negative social stigma associated with addiction, who would want to be lumped in with that crowd? Pride keeps them refusing to acknowledge how much they need help.
Scripture warns us of the danger of supporting ourselves with a scaffold of pride, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6 NIV) While the Lord has imbued us with intelligence and skills to make a way for ourselves, he wants us to be aware of our limitations. Moments of weakness point us toward God’s strength. Humility keeps us from swaggering into danger. This is one of the reasons addiction progresses the way it does. Addicts slap away God’s guiding hand and mire themselves in a substance too strong to escape.
‘I Deserve It’
Not only does pride convince addicts they do not have a problem, it encourages them to use. It reminds you what a rough day you had; that you deserve a break. A voice in your head also reminds you that using is unhealthy and upsets your family, but pride is louder.
Pride was mankind’s first sin. God told Adam and Eve they would die if they ate of the tree of knowledge. But the fruit looked so delicious. And why couldn’t they know what the fruit would teach them? They could handle it, right? They were told they would die if they ate the fruit, but they knew better.
Pride drives addicts to use the same way it drove Adam and Eve to eat the fruit. It tells them to ignore the danger and disappointment the forbidden substance poses to them and those around them. It convinces them their right to enjoy a treat takes precedence over any other concern.
‘No One Can Know’
Finally, pride keeps them from asking for help. As bad as it is to admit to yourself you have an addiction, it is even worse to have to tell someone. To risk the judgment that comes with admitting something so shameful. No one wants to be reduced in the eyes of those around them. We like to have people look up to us; think well of us. Admitting such a widely ridiculed failing would destroy that.
Ecclesiastes 4 reminds us how it doesn’t matter how much prestige you have if it’s only a façade. And vanity isn’t much help in a crisis. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?” (Eccl. 4:9-11 NIV)
This is how the addiction maintains its power– by convincing you that deadly enticements are better for you than those God says are the means to health and life.
Admitting our shortcomings to others and asking for help can be uncomfortable, but periodic “humility checks” keep us from being consumed by quagmires brought on by arrogance.
Christian Counseling for Addiction
No one likes to admit their mistakes. But addiction is more than a bad habit. It is a destructive way of life that you cannot overcome on your own. Get in touch with a professional Christian counselor. They can help you understand why you use, and figure out healthier ways to deal with those problems. Also, unlike with a loved one, you do not have to worry about disappointing a counselor. They are there to hear about your shortcomings and use therapeutic methods and Biblical principles to help you grow from them.
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