The First Step in Overcoming Addiction

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:36

My dad struggled with alcohol addiction for many years when I was growing up. He was, by his own measure, a mean drunk so he did the family a favour by going on week-long binges away from home. In other words, I never really knew or saw my dad as a mean drunk.

Later in life, he stopped drinking altogether as a result of checking into a rehab centre near home. As a result, he beat alcoholism.

However, soon after giving up booze, my father became addicted to gambling. He was constantly at bingo, playing the horses, or at the casino. That stayed that way to the day he died.

So, what exactly did my father beat? Is trading one vice for another true freedom? It seems as though there are two different problems a person deals with when it comes to addiction: the addiction itself and the cause behind why someone becomes addicted in the first place.

Jesus tells us that if He sets us free, then we’re free. What’s important to grasp in that statement is what He doesn’t mean. He’s not talking about a switch that He alone flips, and then we automatically become free from the temptation of sin altogether. If that were the case, all the warning passages to Christians to resist and flee temptation would be pointless.

What He is actually saying is that the foundation to be free from all sin (addictions included) start and end with unconditional surrender to Him.

I must be honest with you; unconditional surrender is not an easy thing to commit to. Totally giving all you are and do over to the Son of God is a highly vulnerable act. This is not the same thing as salvation; that takes only simple faith that Jesus is who He says He is and that you declare Him Lord and Saviour of your life.

But surrender is the part where you make good on that declaration. And if you’re anything like me, living truly surrendered can be extremely difficult.

But when you are surrendered, you get to experience something rare and precious: complete freedom from all that has held you back.

So, if you deal with addiction of some kind, let me tell you that the place to start is not a twelve-step program or a counsellor’s office. Both of those strategies may well prove to be a part how you recover, but first base in overcoming addiction is total surrender to the One who can set you free indeed.

Pastor Scott