Many families long for the day when their loved one breaks free from his addiction and begins living for the purpose for which God created him. They find it difficult to understand why their loved one just doesn't quit. Their loved one's addiction has resulted in tremendous loss, heartache, and pain, leaving a trail of self-destruction. But their loved one continues in this addictive life-style, and they do not know why.
So what goes on inside the heart and mind of one who has an addiction? Why does he continue to self-destruct? I do not claim to have all the answers to these questions, but hopefully, I can bring some understanding that may bring you some comfort.
Addictions typically start for three reasons:
Reason #1: To Experience Pleasure
Reason #2: To Escape Pain
Reason #3: To Escape Problems
If you look back at the life of your loved one who has an addiction, the addiction started as a result of one of these three reasons. Many people with addictions started off simply to experience the pleasure the object of their addiction brought them. It was fun. Chasing the pleasure of the addiction, they continued to seek the object of the addiction. Soon, their bodies and brains became dependent upon the addiction just to feel normal and function in life. Not realizing, they are not normal or functioning in life at all.
Eventually, the pleasure of the addiction turns to pain. Yet, the brain and body of the one addicted, remembering only the pleasure of the addiction, begins to crave the object of the addiction, caring nothing about the pain the addiction has brought into the life of the one with the addiction. Additionally, brain chemistry is affected, leaving them without the ability to think properly. Their perspective on life becomes distorted. So the addiction continues.
Others started their addiction to escape pain and problems. The euphoria of the addiction became their way of escape. For a small time, the euphoria of the addiction allows them forget about their pain and problems. But soon, just like the ones whose addiction started to experience pleasure, their brains and bodies began to crave the object of the addiction, constantly seeking the euphoric feeling. And their brains, too, begin to lose the ability to think clearly and their perspective on life becomes distorted.
Seeking the pleasure or the euphoria of the addiction to escape pain and problems becomes the most important thing in their lives. It becomes their god. It controls everything they do. They are no longer thinking rationally and reasonably. The addiction has affected their brains and bodies so they are no longer thinking normally. Even though stopping the addiction seems like an easy thing to do for those who do not have an addiction, it is extremely difficult to do for the one with the addiction.
Promising the experience of pleasure or the escape from pain and problems, the addiction deceives your loved one and high-jacks his life, totally taking over everything. By taking over everything, the one with the addiction begins to lose everything. He loses his family, job, dreams, interests, ambition, money, possessions, reputation, health, appetite, mind, heart, integrity, standards, values, freedom, and conscience. He loses the trust of his family. Yet, with all the losses, the addiction continues. Self destruction continues. This is how you know the addiction has totally taken over. Those who are addicted are not in their right minds.
This is when the family of the loved one shakes their heads and says, "Why doesn't she just quit?" "Can't, she see what she is doing to herself and family?" The family then begins to get angry at their loved one. They are mad because their loved one will not quit. They are mad for all the pain and hurt the loved one has caused. So the family begins to relate to their loved one in anger and frustration. Arguments break out. Ultimatums are given. But the addiction continues.
As the addiction continues, the one with the addiction promises to God and others he is going stop the addiction and do better. He is sincere about his promises. Yet, he finds himself caught right back in the addiction. Then he rededicates himself to doing better. Yet, he continues to do the very thing he does not want to do. He is living Romans 7:14-24 in the Bible. The very thing he wants to do he does not do. He is miserable.
In his misery, guilt and shame set in. The one with the addiction begins to hate himself. He is angry at himself. He sees all the pain and hurt he has caused in his life and the lives of others. He sees all he has lost. Yet, even though he makes sincere promises to God and others he will quit, he can't. He lives Romans 7:14-24 day after day after day, causing more guilt and shame to set in. Guilt and shame feeds the addiction.
Along with guilt and shame, the one with the addiction begins to live in a world of despair, darkness, and death. It is a miserable experience, but he can't escape it. That is why it is called an addiction. He hates himself. He thinks his family hates him. He thinks God hates him. Thus, feeding the monster of addiction even more.
The addiction, once promising a way to experience pleasure and escape pain and problems, has only created more pain and problems. The pleasure has become a distant memory and his present reality is misery.
Even in his misery, he continues to cover-up the addiction. He lies, deceives, and manipulates.
The addiction has a name. It's not the name of your loved one. It's not the name of the object of the addiction. The addiction's name is Satan. Satan has cleverly disguised himself as a friend of your loved one by wearing the mask of the addiction. Through the addiction, Satan promised your loved one pleasure, purpose, hope, relief, excitement, meaning, etc...only to deceive him in seeking to destroy his life.
According to Jesus, that is what Satan has come to do: kill, steal, and destroy. And he does this by cleverly disguising himself as a friend, even though he is your loved one's worst enemy. He is strategic in his ways with your loved one. He is constantly seeking to destroy your loved one. Jesus called Satan a liar...a murderer. That is Satan's goal in your loved one's life...to lie to him and destroy his life.
Your loved one is trapped in Satan's plan and power. Satan has taken his mind captive to do his will.
Your loved one is not your enemy, Satan is. The Bible says our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against Satan and his demons.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers...authorities...and powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
At its core, addiction is demonic and operates in darkness, deception, destruction, and despair. This is the power your loved one is fighting.
Satan wants you to think your loved one is your enemy. He would love nothing more than to create a fighting, argumentative, and divisive environment in your home because of the addiction. Possibly, that has become the climate of your home.
Maybe you have found yourself growing more and more angry toward your loved one. Bitterness has set in. You find yourself wanting to explode angrily at your loved one. But now you are realizing your loved one is not your enemy. So what do you do? Make your loved one the object of God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace through you.
The Bible says we have become the object of God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace in our own sin.
...to the praise of his glorious grace which has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding...As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins...gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts...we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ...it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 1:6-8; 2:1-7
It is God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace to us that has made us alive in Christ. It will be God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace through you that will make your loved one become alive in Christ, too.
Because you have become the object of God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace, then make your loved one the object of God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace through you. Satan wants your loved one to be the object of your anger and bitterness. Yet, God wants your loved one to be the object of his love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace through you. Ephesians 4:26-27 and 31-32 says:
"In your anger, do not sin". Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold...Get rid of all bitterness, range and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving (having grace on) each other, just as God in Christ forgave (had grace upon) you.
As you begin to make your loved one the object of God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace, it will be the power your loved one needs to fight the spiritual battle in which he is blindly engaged. God's love, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and grace are the weapons God uses in and through you to fight Satan who is at work in your loved one.
Satan not only seeks to destroy your loved one, but he desires to destroy your family as well. He wants to destroy your marriage over the addiction. He wants to destroy your other children. He wants anger and arguments to break out in your home.
How do you stop Satan's attacks on your marriage and family? Create a home of grace. Rather than letting Satan get a foothold in your heart and home through anger, bitterness, and arguing, respond to each other in love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, kindness, patience, and gentleness.
Along with extending grace to your loved one who is trapped in a Satanic addiction, continue to pray for him, too. Don't give up. Continue to walk by faith believing your loved one will escape Satan's evil clutches.
No one is happy in an addiction. Your loved one is miserable. He is lonely. He is empty. He is afraid. He needs you. Your loved one needs you to fight for him, not be frustrated with him. He needs your compassion, not condemnation. He needs you to give him grace, not to add to his guilt.
I know you are going through much heartache and pain watching the one you love lose so much. I know you are getting very little sleep. You have no peace in your heart. Conflict has broken out in your home. Don't go through this alone. Allow God to be your comforter. Share your emotions with him. Reach out to others in your church or community who can support and pray with you.
When the time comes when your loved one is ready for help, be there for him. Don't shun or punish him. No matter how many times or how long it takes, respond in grace. Help him get into a Christian recovery center. A Christian recovery center to consider is the Home of Grace in Vancleave, Ms. The phone number is 228-826-5283. The website is www.homeofgrace.org.