Some people who have recovered from a life-threatening addiction credit their faith in God or a belief in a higher power as mentioned in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Such beliefs do not remove the bonds of addiction, but can offer believers the strength to do what is necessary to escape that bondage, such as seeking rehab services.
The Nature of Addiction
Addiction is a physical condition and a brain disorder. A person with an addiction craves substances such as alcohol or a drug, or they might feel compelled to perform certain behaviors.
They’ll pursue that desire without regard to consequences. Over time, the pursuit of the addiction becomes all-consuming, interfering with the person’s relationships, careers, and quality of life.
In the past, people thought character flaws caused addictions. But research has determined that the brain plays a large role in addictions. For example, people may have an inability to delay gratification, a mental condition such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, brain damage, or other factors that could contribute to their addictions.
Treatment for addiction usually consists of medications and psychotherapy. Some people of faith also believe that appeals to God or a higher power can play a crucial role in addressing addiction and preventing relapses.
Globally, many people struggle with addictions.
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, drug overdoses have caused more than 700,000 deaths since 2000, and 19.4 percent of Americans have used illicit (illegal) drugs at least once. Marijuana is the most frequently abused drug, but it’s closely followed by prescription stimulants and opioids.
What Are Some Biblical Verses That May Address Addiction and Recovery?
All the Abrahamic religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – encourage their adherents to avoid addiction, according to numerous verses in both the Bible and the Koran. Christians and Jews are encouraged to not overindulge in wine and Muslims are admonished to avoid it altogether.
The Bible contains a number of verses about avoiding addiction or, if one is struggling with it, overcoming it:
1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
According to legend, 1 Corinthians is a letter by the apostle Paul to the Christian church in Corinth. The message explains that God can strengthen believers and moderate temptations.
1 John 2:16 – “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
The identity of the author of this verse is unclear, but it is not thought to be the apostle John. The verse notes that lust, broadly defined as the desire for anything physical, does not come from God. It also suggests that faith in God can help believers overcome temptations.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’”
Addictions and their beginnings are addressed in this verse. How many people start using alcohol or drugs because of peer pressure? For some, the desire to seem cool is an incentive to drink alcohol or use drugs. This verse warns believers to avoid associating with people who could lead them down the wrong path.
1 Corinthians 6:12 – “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but I will not be mastered by anything.”
More good advice from 1 Corinthians. This verse is an answer to the argument that risky behavior is the business of the person performing it and no one else’s. It reminds readers that not all enjoyable behavior is beneficial. The verse also contains a warning that people should let no one and nothing else control them but God.
1 Peter 5:10 – “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”
Readers will find this verse in a letter attributed to St. Peter to Christians in Asia Minor. The Christians were facing persecution, so the passage is a reminder that faith in God can help suffering people recover.
Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.”
A letter attributed to the apostle Paul to St. Titus is the source of this verse. Paul was said to have converted Titus to Christianity and the latter became the bishop of Crete. The verse can be regarded as an admonishment not to participate in behavior that could lead to addiction, but instead control such behavior and strive to live with virtue and godliness.
Matthew 6:13 – “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
Found in the middle portion of the Sermon on the Mount, modified versions of this passage appear in the Lord’s Prayer. One of the most familiar lines in the Bible, it asks God to help believers avoid temptation, which could lead to addiction.
Can religious faith help people address addictions? Believers believe so.
aa.org – The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Sunshine Behavioral Health
drugabuse.gov – Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction – Drugs and the Brain
drugabusestatistics.org – Drug Abuse Statistics https://drugabusestatistics.org/
biblestudytools.com – 1 Corinthians 10:13-14
biblegateway.com – Matthew Henry’s Commentary – 1 Corinthians
biblestudytools.com – 1 John 2:16
biblestudytools.com – 1 Corinthians 15:33
biblestudytools.com – 1 Corinthians 6:12
biblestudytools.com – 1 Peter 5:10
biblegateway.com – Titus 2:11-12
biblestudytools.com – Matthew 6:13