In the last STEPS Journey Blog article, we discussed how widespread addiction problems are in the U.S. But what is addiction? It is simply when we keep doing things even though they have negative consequences, and we find ourselves unable to stop that harmful behavior.
Addiction and compulsive behavior do not just affect ‘those other people.’ They are part of all of our lives, one way or the other, and the first step is to accept that fact.
Are we all addicted to something? To some degree, yes. Therefore, we should all learn more about addiction and recovery so we know what we can do about it.
The Emotional Aspects of Addiction
With addiction issues being so common, it makes sense that we should pay attention, and we can use information from “Psychology Today” as a guide. What is addiction?
- It is a condition that results …
- When a person engages in an activity that can be pleasurable, but …
- The continued act becomes compulsive, such that it …
- Interferes with ordinary life responsibilities.
- Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and that it is causing problems for themselves and others.
- There are no specific causes of addiction, and no way to predict who will become dependent.
- Its cause is not simply a search for pleasure, and addiction has nothing to do with one’s morality or strength of character.
- Addiction is a treatable condition.
That last point is very good news. No matter what our issue may be, it is treatable. If we are willing to take the right life improvement steps to get better.
But there is another aspect of addiction we must also consider …
The Spiritual Aspects of Addiction
We all have negative things we deal with, often driven by inner feelings of stress, insecurity, or fear. Therefore, we look for something to make us feel better, or at least numb those emotions. When we find something that feels good, we keep doing it, and it becomes a habit.
Or even an idol.
Spiritually, an ‘idol’ is anything we turn to instead of God to deal with the ups and downs in life. We choose to place our focus, and even our faith, in these idols, sometimes without even being aware that we are doing so. Our idols become our obsession.
At an even deeper level, we all feel a sense of emptiness or longing at times. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, a self-confessed nicotine addict and author of The Road Less Traveled, described it this way:
“At birth, humans become separated from God. Everyone is aware of this separation, but some people are more attuned to it than others. They report feeling an emptiness, a longing, what many refer to as ‘a hole in their soul.’ They sense that something is missing, but don’t know what it is. At some point in their lives (often quite young) these sensitive souls stumble across something that makes them feel better.”
Oddly enough, even our pursuit of God’s approval can become an idol. And when we feel we have to work in order to earn God’s love, that obsession can control many aspects of our lives.
What is addiction? And what should we take away from this discussion?
We should understand that we all have compulsive habits that affect our lives. But that our condition is treatable if we choose the right life improvement steps to take. We all have issues, so we can all benefit from proven recovery principles.
If we admit our issues. And surrender our will to God in those areas. If we allow others to help, rather than retreat into isolation. And if we keep doing the next right thing, one day at a time.
Are we all addicted to something? Yes, but that’s okay. We can get better.
Question: What is the most compulsive or addictive issue in your life?
Action: In prayer, hand that issue over to God; then, keep doing it over and over.