What is Addiction?
Addiction is defined as a dependence on a behavior or substance that a person is powerless to stop. It includes mood-altering behaviors or activities. Researchers place addiction in two categories:
§ Substance addictions (which include drug abuse, alcoholism and smoking): It is estimated that by eighth grade, 52% of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 41% smoked tobacco, and 20% have smoked marijuana. In the United States, it is estimated that 25% of the population regularly uses tobacco.
§ Process addictions (which include gambling, spending, shopping, eating, and sexual activity): eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating affect over five million American women and men. Fifteen percent of young women have substantially disordered attitudes toward eating and eating behaviors. More than 1,000 women die each year from anorexia nervosa. A 1997 Harvard study found that an estimated 15.4 million Americans suffered from a gambling addiction; over half of whom (7.9 million) were adolescents.
Addiction is costly and increases in severity if not treated. Substance abusers often make many attempts to quit before they are successful. In 1995 the economic cost of substance abuse in the United States exceeded $414 billion, with health care costs for substance abuse estimated to have been more than $114 billion.
What leads to addiction?
There are many scientific reasons for one becoming addicted to substances which include: drug chemistry (some substances are more addictive than others); genetics (some forms seem to run in families); brain structure (the change in brain structure after repeated use of a substance); social learning (patterns of use in the family, peer pressure, or media influence).
There are other reasons why one gets caught up in addiction that include:
§ Seeking completeness through external devices that develop into internal destruction
§ Trying to satisfy our spiritual needs without seeking spiritual growth and development
§ Family matters, relationships, employment situations, stress, finances, and burnout.
§ Spiritual Distress or Crisis (suffering, an inability to find a source of meaning, hope, love, peace, strength connection; a feeling that God has abandoned them.
How Does One Overcome Addiction?
One must first recognize that there is a problem and seek help.
Seek Treatment that may include both medical (hospital or inpatient detoxification) and social treatment (outpatient which may include a twelve-Step program).
Realize that as humans, we are spiritual beings whose spirits need to be nurtured and seek to find those who can and will nurture our spirits.
What is the role of spirituality in recovery?
Many recovering addicts recognize the role of spirituality in their recovery process. Their recognition and acceptance of a God who loves and forgives was a key component to their recovery process. Studies have concluded that people who are hospitalized and who have a spiritual connection, i.e. prayer or meditation, recover at a faster rate than those who don’t. Likewise, those who
What can the faith community do?
The faith community can begin by becoming involved in or setting up programs that advocate for prevention by educating the community about the harmful effects of mood-altering substances and behavior.
The faith community can help addicted persons by:
§ Helping them realize their self worth
§ Help them understand that healing comes from within
§ Help them recognize what led them to the addiction
§ Help them understand the power of forgiveness (of themselves and others)
§ Help them remember what makes them happy and brings them joy
§ Help them understand that their spirits need to be fed
§ Help them discover that which brings them peace