The Highway to Hell

It's happened woke up with a hangover, you took those painkillers, you abused or overused a substance to the point you have consequences to deal with. You got a drunk driving arrest or were ticketed for public intoxication. You have tried limiting your drinks, or monitoring your use of those prescription pills. You've quit seeking out the drugs but your using friends keep calling you and you see the suppliers when you are out in public. You feel helpless to stop using or drinking. You are embarrassed and scared to admit how serious the problem is, how out of control you are.

You are broken because of drugs or alcohol, enslaved to substances that perhaps once brought you thrills and laughs and good times. What you once controlled is now controlling you and you find that you are broke, ruined and miserable.

You may have already been through treatment programs designed to educate you on your problem.  In treatment, you were taught that your alcoholism or drug addiction is a disease, it's not your fault, its genetic. You are a victim of something that has been passed down in your family tree through mom, dad or a grandparent. You have been told you needed treatment and a community support program such as Alcoholic's Anonymous to achieve and maintain sobriety. Now you think you will be this way for the rest of your life and that you are doomed to attend "Anonymous" meetings ad nauseum to get and stay sober and in recovery. You don't want to do that, you don't want to do 90 meetings in 90 days and you sure don't want to identify yourself as "An Alcoholic" or "An Addict!"

What if there is another way? What if there are other options and possibilities? Would you take them? Would you want to know about something other than the disease model that has been presented to you as fact?

As a Biblical Counselor, I know that your problem truly has been passed down though your lineage. It has passed all the way from Adam and Eve and is a part of each human being born since Genesis 3. Your problem is crippling, devastating, and universal in that you are a sinner by birth and now by choice (Romans 5:12, James 1:14,15).  Sin is born in the heart of man, and the thoughts, beliefs, and desires of the heart are deceptive and corrupt by nature (Jer. 17:9).

Your sinful heart is what entices and tempts you to want to drink or use drugs. Your heart is focused on "self" being pleased and happy, and without pain or discomfort. You know you prefer to feel good, and you use substances to enhance your already powerful emotions or to avoid feeling lonely, depressed, or despair. (It’s not just addicts that tend to emotionalize everything, culture has taught us to define everything as a feeling.)

You thought your faith in Christ might have cured you of this insatiable desire to feel good, be happy, escape, or forget.  You thought Christianity would just make it all go away like wishing on a star or rubbing a luck charm. It would be great if upon being made alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11)all your old sinful desires would just fall off like dirt. It would be wonderful if you could just give a good hard shake and send them flying away, never to return. It doesn't work that way. The sinful desires you had before regeneration are probably still there to one degree or another. This is evidenced by your drinking to excess and using drugs.

You have displaced God and His Lordship in your heart with the god of self. Your thoughts, beliefs, and desires have remained more important to you than God. You are living your life following the counsel of your heart and what it tells you feels good.  You are determined to manage your world your way. This kind of self-worship leaves no room for worship of God.

If you want to really overcome your addiction, you have to deal with the issues that precede your drinking and drug use. You have to get at the heart of the problem. You have been created to worship God, but your sinful desires/lusts have driven you to worship yourself and your enslaving lusts for pleasure and escape. Yes, you have a substance abuse problem, but your real problem is that you love yourself a little too much. You idolize your desires and your feelings and this is what has brought you to the pile in which you now sit. 

Sure, you may now be physically dependent and require detox. That is your body's way of reminding you it too has come to depend on those substances. Your body will recover and once detox is finished you will feel physically great! Your heart however will still be longing for what it desires and unless you deal with that you will be right back where you started. 

Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
“They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”
Proverbs 23:29-35

In my next post (Wednesday) I will present the Bridge to Hope.