Uncontrollable Addiction

Drug addiction and subsequent deaths due to those addictions are on the rise worldwide. A recent article in the Associated Press reported, “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 500,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the decade ending in 2017...that’s more than the number of U.S. soldiers who died in World War II and Vietnam combined.” With these staggering numbers there is a great push for answers and solutions to curb this epidemic. This is the reason for a new treatment that is being tested in Shanghai. The treatment? Deep brain stimulation. How is this accomplished? By drilling two small holes into the head of the patient and implanting feed electrodes deep into the brain. Sound like science fiction? Well it is not. That same article from the Associated Press follows the treatment of a patient named Yan. The article states, “The surgery involves implanting a device that acts as a kind of pacemaker for the brain, electrically stimulating targeted areas. While Western attempts to push forward with human trials of DBS for addiction have floundered, China is emerging as a hub for this research. Scientists in Europe have struggled to recruit patients for their DBS addiction studies, and complex ethical, social and scientific questions have made it hard to push forward with this kind of work in the United States, where the devices can cost $100,000 to implant.” 
This is not science fiction but present day reality. But this brings to question, is this necessary? What is society saying when these measures are taken to curb an addiction? Are we saying that drug addiction is so strong, so  uncontrollable that we have to have a machine control your brain? Is there no other hope? No other alternative? No other solution? What is the christian worldview of something like this? What does the Bible have to say, if anything, about addiction? Does the Bible not factor in because this is not spiritual but medical? 
The Bible does have much to say about addiction. First of all when you look at any addiction (pornography, drugs, TV, food, alcohol etc.) close enough you see that there is a lordship problem. With an addiction, it is the thing that you are addicted to that is lord of your life, not God. Addiction at its core has to deal with idolatry, not pathology. 
“But the addiction is so strong. No matter what you do you can not possibly stop it.” one might argue. This is very true and I am not making light of this. But the Bible explains this to us.  Before any addiction becomes an addiction it started off as a voluntary choice. A choice, while sober, to give into a craving or desire. From there the body liked the reaction it received and wanted more. After giving in more and more to the substance the body eventually becomes physically dependent.  It is at this stage of physical dependence that the addict lives. It is no longer a choice. The substance is controlling them and they are no longer in control. Sometimes with the substance controlling them to the point of death. And this is exactly how the Bible teaches us that sin progresses in a life (see James 1:14-15).
To better understand this, we have to view sin the way the Bible teaches it. Not the way we envision it. For so many people sin is an individual choice to disobey God. I chose to lie in this situation. I chose to lust after that girl as she walked by. I chose to watch TV instead of reading my Bible. I chose to swear when I got mad.  But sin is more than just our bad choices. God tells us that when we give into sin we are going to be slaves to that sin (2 Peter 2:19). And what is a slave? Is a slave someone who has freedom to make choice? Freedom to do what they want? Is a slave not forced to do something against its will? Just like an addict? The Bible also teaches that sin is a cruel taskmaster. Sin is not a bad choice. That is what your sinful heart wants you to think. God warns us that sin will control, victimize, capture and overtake you (John 8:34 & Galatians 6:1). So many assume because I did not make a self conscious choice I am not sinning. So we reason that there must be another reason for why I did this uncontrollable action. And the world is right there all ready to supply other areas to place blame; biological, pathological, environmental etc. 
Meditate on Paul’s words here, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is the sin living in me.” (Romans 7:15,17) In other words sin can feel like something outside of ourselves taking over our will, i.e. it can feel like a disease. God even uses sickness to describe sin in Isaiah 1:5-6.  
What does all of this mean? That we mustn't ignore the spiritual when dealing with the physical. Am I saying never go to a doctor? No. Am I saying never use any medications? No. In fact some forms of detoxification and withdrawal are so dangerous to the body that medicine is needed to prevent serious physical harm. But what I am saying is that to properly treat, we have to properly diagnose. We must not ignore the spiritual aspect of addiction. We must not ignore sin and our responsibility for our sin, even when it feels like it is uncontrollable. If personal responsibility is ignored, then ultimately addicts are helpless before their addiction. If we do not view this as sin think of how hopeless that is! Yet if it is sinful and you are responsible, then who can deliver you? Jesus. The way out of an addiction is to look to Christ. To look to our redeemer, savior and liberator. He sets the captives free! And free from what? Sin, what the addict has been committing all along. That is the christian worldview in all of this. Or would you rather believe the lie from the world that there is no hope, this is not spiritual and we haven't found the perfect cure yet? Are we then not saying that the Lord of the universe is not strong enough? That when He says we can find freedom in Him, it isn’t really freedom from everything? Who should we believe? What the world and science tells us? Or what the Lord of all tells us?

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