What Does the Bible Say About Addiction?
What does the Bible say about addiction? The Bible may seem like an old, irrelevant collection of books to much of the world. But true wisdom does not expire with time, especially not wisdom that comes directly from God. Christians know that the Bible is God-breathed and inspired. Holding an immense amount of wisdom and direction for living life, the Bible has a wealth of knowledge and information ready to bless and enhance our lives. The Bible does have a considerable amount to say about the nature of addiction or overindulgence.
If you’re struggling with addiction as a Christian, it can be hard to gather instances in the Bible that you feel speak to you and your situation specifically. The bible does mention addiction in the context of alcohol. We don’t hear about drugs such as opioids, cocaine, or methamphetamine in Biblical times. Of course, some of which did not exist at the time. However, the verses that we find about God’s warning about alcohol apply to all mind-altering substances. When discussing addiction in a Christian context, we also need to go deeper to understand addiction from a spiritual perspective.
Understanding The Purpose of God’s Instruction
An important thought to consider: While sometimes the Bible explains addiction in a way where it seems harsh or condemning, we must remember one key characteristic of God. God is loving, and so it follows that he disciplines and corrects his children like any loving parent would. While the Bible can direct and serious in many ways, it is always honest. The truth isn’t always easy to hear, especially when it’s a topic that’s personally applicable. However, conviction that leads to repentance and change is a blessing. The good news is that equipped with your faith in Jesus Christ; you can overcome addiction and leave behind the suffering.
God’s Warning About Overindulgence
In many places in scripture, we see references to over-indulgence in alcohol. Let’s look at what the Bible says about those who dedicate their lives to drinking daily and how it brings destruction and chaos.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. – Proverbs 20:1
This verse states the behavioral changes that come with consuming too much alcohol. We see here mentions of violent behavior, which some alcoholics are known for. God says that anyone who is led astray by it is being unwise. The term led astray, in my opinion, means anyone who has bowed their life down to addiction.
“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” – Proverbs 23:20
In this verse, we see a strong warning not to associate those who are overindulgers. The consequence that often meets these individuals is poverty and being drowsy and out of it.
“Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine. They have harps and lyres at their banquets, tambourines and flutes and wine, but they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands.” – Isaiah 5:11
This verse spoken by the prophet Isaiah expresses God’s disapproval of those who decide to surround themselves with alcohol use. This verse mentions the individuals making an idol out of alcohol to the point where they do not care about God. All addictions eventually can lead to this type of behavior.
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18
The book of Ephesians in the New Testament, written by the Apostle Paul, provides direction and warning for how people live. Instead of using substances and being filled with the things they bring, we should focus on being filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can direct and enrich our lives in ways that chemical substances never can.
The bible states that those who given to overindulgence are prone to the following:
- Low self-control when it comes to sensual pleasures (promiscuity)
- Apathy towards God
Now, this does not speak for every single person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. However, it’s important to note that similar or more troubling behavioral issues do arise with any addiction. This includes self-control control issues when it comes to doing wrong things and not having regard for God.
Aligning the Physical to the Spiritual
Addiction is proven to cause drastic changes to the way the brain works. It disrupts pathways, creates new ones, all to uphold the addiction. Now some would say the physical aspects should be divorced from the spiritual. However, Christians believe that the physical and the spiritual work hand-in-hand and are all connected to God.
In short, our actions are a reflection of our spiritual condition.
The brain is an amazing and complex organ that we don’t fully understand. We know that the brain’s design is a command center for the entire human body. It is only natural for the brain to change when presented with addictive substances over time. Substance abuse corrupts the brain that God gave us to navigate our lives.
These brain changes are precisely why overcoming addiction can be extremely difficult. Firstly, we must deal with the spiritual damage that addiction has caused to our lives by repenting (turning away from) and seeking forgiveness through the cross of Jesus Christ. Secondly, we have to fight against the brain that has been rewired. As Christians, we also know that God can heal us, although it doesn’t always happen overnight. The changes take time, but God can see us through every step of the way.
Addiction is Often Rooted in Trauma and Hurt
The Bible says that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. People who have hurt you in the past or your childhood were not operating with the love of God. It’s quite the opposite. We know God’s attributes of complete and perfect goodness. It is tempting to blame God for what happened to us and wonder why he didn’t intervene. However, God is the God who sees. God likely protected you in ways that you do not understand. One important thing to remember is that God can take those bad things that happened to us and use them for good. But of course, when individuals are left with traumatic experiences, it is not easy to overcome. Especially if they do not know the truth about who God is or if they choose to ignore that He’s there.
Addiction, more often than not, is rooted in trauma. Let’s look at these studies:
- One study found that 81% of women who entered into rehab experienced physical or sexual trauma in childhood or adolescence.
- A study found that forms of childhood abuse had direct correlations to certain types of addiction.
It is important to know that God sees and knows all of our experiences. The solution to these issues is not substance abuse. The solution is surrendering your life to Jesus Christ and calling upon Him for salvation and healing.
Addiction is a form of Idolatry.
This statement may shock some to hear, but it’s very important to understand that addiction is a form of Idolatry. What is Idolatry? In its simplest terms, it is looking for God in places outside of God. God is infinitely good, just, and loving. God is the one who deserves all the praise. He is the one that we should run to for all of our needs. In the Bible, God commands us to have no other Gods before Him.
The Bible also teaches that humans have a natural tendency to run away from God. We seek everything but him because we believe we can fulfill ourselves outside of Him. So what are people who are addicted to drugs seeking?
Addiction frequently begins as a search to reach a euphoric state of mind or a chance to unwind and have fun. Once a person reaches the state of euphoria, the chase to recapture those intense feelings continues.
It’s just one example of how humans seek joy, comfort, and peace outside of God. We seek it in things that promise paradise and enlightenment, only to bite into it and descend into a world of darkness. Addiction, therefore, comes in more forms than just substance abuse. It is essentially a chemical deception that does nothing but trick our brains.
Anyone addicted can tell you that the substances they were addicted to became their “god.” In the morning, their thoughts move toward the need for that drug. In the evening, they wondered how they would get the drug in the morning.
People who experience addiction neglect their duties to take care of their marriage, children, and family. Loving thy neighbor becomes almost impossible. Instead, it’s stealing from thy neighbor or deceiving thy neighbor, all in the name of the substance they are chasing.
In most cases, addiction is also born out of traumas and pain. Wounds from trauma that we do not bring before God for healing will fester and grow roots in our lives.
God knows and sees your pain, and he knows everything that’s ever happened to you. What’s important is to know that you can turn towards a loving God that cares about your plight and wants to help you on a personal level.
Getting help from God requires humbling ourselves before His Son Jesus Christ. For many, this is not an easy thing to do. Pride holds us back until we reach the point of desperation.
Often, it takes so much destruction in our lives to surrender to God. It’s often those prayers from a jail cell or those moments when you convince yourself that death is coming for you that you cry out to Him.
In those moments, when things have finally gotten so bad is when we want to acknowledge his existence. Good thing that God is a merciful and forgiving God. When we call out to Him honestly and humbly, he hears us.
The Bible says that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13). When we humble ourselves before God, trust in Jesus Christ, and seek repentance for our actions, get help for our addictions, and lean on brothers and sisters in Christ, we can begin to make progress. It is not always the progress that at the rate that we wish, but it is progress that God sees fit to make in our lives, and believe me, God can work miracles.
If you truly love God, and you are born again through Jesus Christ, all things will work together for your good (Romans 8:28).
Finding Help for Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol
If you’re seeking help for your addiction to drugs or alcohol, there are many options available regardless of your financial state or circumstances. We offer a direct admissions line to treatment options. You can call us at (888) 906-0952. If you are looking for faith-based treatment, then search your community. Do not be afraid to ask people in your church.
Do not be afraid to reach out to the recovery community because chances are there is someone who can direct you to a faith-based program.
About the Author
Susana has over 6 years of experience writing content about addiction, mental health, recovery, and treatment. She’s been in recovery for over 5 years, after battling addictions that sought to claim her life. Susana specializes in Organic SEO and Content Marketing and utilizes her experiences to create impactful, insightful, and educational content. Connect with her on Linked-in.