My husband used to be a drunk and a drug addict. He spend most of his youth and young adulthood in a fog and haze of chemical use of one kind or another. Every drug known to man he used, usually in combination with each other and had an alcohol chaser to wash it all down.
When he ceased his drug use it was not by his own willpower or even by his own choice although, he will tell you that he prayed for something or someone to stop the madness his life had become. The way his life as a drug addict ended is not something he would recommend, but he also will tell you that God knew exactly what it would take to get him out of that lifestyle.
While in a rehab hospital he was introduced to AA and its compatriots. One of the motto’s he was taught to live by is “One is too many and a thousand is never enough.” He would also tell you that he had cravings for his beloved substances for a long time after he stopped using them.
The whole issue of cravings is one that those who promote the medical model of addictions would point to as to why they are diseases. They point to some genetic disposition as the reason the cravings seem to take over and propel the person to the crack house, the bar stool or the refrigerator- despite their best intentions and firm commitment to stop using.
The physical component cannot be discounted here. When a person’s body becomes accustomed to the substance the body begins to function as though having it is normal. For example, something as socially acceptable as having 3 cups of caffeine daily can become “normal” to the body. If a person suddenly stops drinking coffee with caffeine the body suffers and the person finds that have headaches and irritability. Obviously, a person wants to avoid that so they continue to take in that caffeine daily.
Even something as apparently benign as sugar can, when stopped, bring withdrawal like headaches, lethargy, and a general sense of feeling poorly. If both caffeine and sugar can bring physical withdrawal and cravings, how much more a substance like alcohol or another drug?
Before we can begin to address any spiritual issue a person with physical dependency has, the physical must be addressed. The person must be stable physically and detoxified from the substance. Then we can turn our attention to the spiritual.
Cravings are both physical and spiritual. We are going to look at the cravings that are not related to physical addiction, and assume for our purposes that the person has completed the withdrawal process already. The substance is no longer in the body.
The Biblical model has an answer and explanation as to why we crave our vices. We struggle with craving things because we continue to desire them in our hearts. We love the feelings they bring us, the soothing of our emotions, the relaxation or the escape. While we have discontinued the physical relationship we had with that substance we maintain the emotional one. This is where the connection to the heart comes in.
Even though the person has been physically withdrawn from the substance, often the heart is not addressed at all.
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