Clean - Natalie Grant

Understanding Addiction


Substance abuse is a broad term for addiction or inappropriate use of a chemical substance to alter one's mental, emotional or physical state, whether the substance is ingested orally, injected intravenously or inhaled. Abuse doesn't always involve or lead to addiction, while dependence is the therapeutic term that defines addiction. Substance abuse generally damages one's health, because the substances are often extremely toxic and dangerous.


In general, the Bible does not disapprove of moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages, but the Bible strongly condemns drunkenness (1 Corinthians 5:11; 6:9-10; Ephesians 5:18; Isaiah 5:11). We also know by biblical principles that if a person has developed a dependence on alcohol, that person should commit to abstinence.


Because the Bible talks about wrong use of alcohol, it is logical to expand this to other mood-altering substances. The Bible does not specifically address the evils of drug use, but refers to "the lust of the flesh" as a description of out-of-control desire (Galatians 5:16).


How do I know if I have an addiction?

They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves to sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

2 Peter 2:19 (New Living Translation)

Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Illegal substances—like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines—are extremely addictive. If any substance becomes so important that you are willing to break the law, risking legal consequences, you are becoming addicted. Realize that it is God who gives human governments the right to make and enforce laws, and He wants us to obey all laws that do not go against His laws (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-14; Acts 5:29).


Narcotic-based medications are addictive. Use them only as prescribed. Communicate regularly with your doctor about your prescriptions and possible alternatives. Also many fumes or inhalants—such as solvents and aerosol sprays—and hallucinogens are very dangerous and addictive.

Checking with a professional alcohol and drug counselor to obtain an assessment can help answer the question of whether you are addicted. Some of the criteria considered include loss of control and failed attempts to quit; extreme amount of time and resources spent obtaining, using and recovering from the effects of use; ongoing use in spite of recurring problems; reduced lifestyle; significant withdrawal; and developed tolerance.


Do you want addiction to rule your life? As a virtual tyrant, enslaving you, it will eventually destroy everything you love (Romans 6:16). Because addiction magnifies covetousness, which the Bible likens to worshiping an idol, it is impossible to devote your life to God (Colossians 3:5).

Now that I have admitted I have an addiction, how can I face others?

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.

Your victory begins with being honest, open and willing to seek support from others. If you are addicted, people close to you have probably known it for a long time. They will breathe a sigh of relief because the defense of denial is finally broken. Opening up and listening are marks of humility (1 Peter 5:6-7).