How should we define addiction in layman’s terms?

Blog Post

The word ” addiction “ used to be whispered in hushed tones and with implied shame, but it has worked its way into our everyday vocabulary. It isn’t even always used as a bad thing anymore like when a person might say, “I’m so addicted to that new sushi restaurant!” We’ll discuss the why use and what should be done about it in future blogs, but for this entry, we’re addressing the “What?” of addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) uses several paragraphs to state the following:

Any chemical use or behavior that is done compulsively despite known negative consequences and repeated failed attempts to control the use.

Failing to quit on your own and negative consequences are the hallmarks of a definition regardless of the Drug of Choice (DOC) whether it be chemical use or specific behaviors. We are all aware of someone whose alcohol abuse is causing liver damage and the negative effects at work, but the person appears to want to keep drinking rather than be a healthy member of society. Less awareness is focused on the guy who gets fired for watching porn on the company computer despite warnings, or the lady who works 80 hours week after week, misses her children’s activities, and fails to eat right, exercise, or sleep enough. Negative consequences and continued use = addiction.

We love to judge some addictions as worse than others, and yes, no one gets thrown in rehab for overwork or is jailed for running many triathlons year after year, but they both can easily fit the above definition. We are told that judgment belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19) and using anything outside of God’s love and grace to soothe ourselves is sin regardless of what society or the local church folks say. Sin is sin, and God doesn’t grade on a curve. Any response other than love is also a sin, so watch where you’re pointing that finger!

Using this definition is on one hand a confirmation of what we know intuitively, and on the other hand very condemning. It is repeated as common knowledge that our society has 9-10 % addiction, but that is simply to alcohol. If we include pills, street drugs, and marijuana (yes, it’s addictive) we’re up to 16%. Throw in sex, porn, gambling, gaming, over-exercising, or shopping/spending, and we are closer to 30%. I’m not even including eating disorders or tobacco use, but with them, we are approaching a 50% rate of addiction in the general population across all demographics, and these numbers lean toward the most conservative estimates. Addiction doesn’t respect ethnicity, sex, economic status, power, job title, or denomination.

We are obviously in trouble.

Thankfully, God has a better plan for us. Here at the Dunamis Initiative, we want to help and will be unpacking more about His plan here, on our various platforms, and coming soon to a church near you. Stay tuned.

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