Overcoming Alcohol Addiction
What does alcoholism look like, and what can the alcoholic do?
by La Shawn M. Barber
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler. And whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1).
The Bible is full of warnings against drunkenness. Alcohol, like a faithless lover, titillates and seduces but brings no lasting joy and contentment. Its anesthetizing effects wash over the brain, and with each sip, the cares of the world diminish. Habitual drinking may seem to take away the pain, but it leaves only disillusionment, destruction, and death. Dependence on alcohol is part of The Lie revealed in the Garden of Eden: that we are all gods who determine the course of our lives.
To determine that course, many people turn to alcohol. For millions of people, it is an idol. Since the Fall, humans have relied on many things to quench a “thirst” for answers, pleasure, or just simple contentment. Whether alcohol dependence is called a disease or a character flaw, it doesn’t offer answers; it steals the soul.
Facts about alcoholism
Alcoholism is a craving for alcohol, accompanied by a loss of control over drinking. When a person addicted to alcohol tries to stop, physical symptoms of dependence usually occur. These range from mild (nausea, sweating, shaking, and anxiety) to severe (psychosis, seizures, and death). A person abusing alcohol craves increasing amounts in order to get the same “buzz.”
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one in every 13 adults abuses alcohol. Nearly 53 percent of adults report that one or more of their close relatives has a drinking problem. The consequences of alcoholism are serious and life-threatening: increase in the risk of disease, harm to the fetus during pregnancy, and death to self and others in automobile accidents. Homicide and suicide rates are also increased due to alcoholism.
Additionally, people who start drinking at an early age are at a particular risk of alcohol dependence. Men are three times more likely than women to become alcoholics, while people 65 and older have the lowest rates of alcohol dependence.
Are you an alcoholic?
How can you tell if you have a drinking problem? Here are a few signs:
- You’ve tried to cut back on your drinking but were unable to.
- You become irritable when people criticize your drinking.
- You feel guilty about your drinking.
- You need a drink (“eye-opener, “hair of the dog”) first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover.
If you identified with any of these signs, you may have a drinking problem. But there is hope.
Where to seek help
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has helped millions of alcoholics achieve sobriety. But a Christ-centered recovery program is essential for spiritual and well as physical and emotional help. Although many members of AA believe they’ve found the solution to their drinking problem through a power greater than themselves, they define that power however they wish. But the truth is, dependence on Jesus Christ and His goodness is essential to recovery. Some AA groups offer traditional and Christian programs. Gathering with other believers is important in any recovery program.
Attending a vibrant Christian church and seeking counsel from a pastor will also strengthen and encourage the alcoholic in the battle with addiction. Other Christians can pray for the recovering alcoholic.
In addition to a local church, the following resources are available:
Recovery Connection (https://www.recoveryconnection.com/addiction-resources/drug-alcohol-addiction-recovery-guides/choosing-a-quality-christian-alcohol-drug-rehab/) assists people in getting treatment, providing information and resources.
Overcomers Outreach (1-800-310-3001; http://www.overcomersoutreach.org) uses the Bible and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholics for Christ (1-800-441-7877; http://www.alcoholicsforchrist.com) provides resources for finding local groups or starting new groups.
Recovery Options (1-800-662-2873) provides referrals to Christian recovery programs in local areas.
In any recovery program, each day must be faced as it comes. As Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
Power of prayer
Alcohol dependence is only one of many vices we face in a fallen world, and no one is powerless against its temptations. In time, consistent, heartfelt, humble prayer will help release victims from the chains of addiction. Alcohol is slavery; God sets slaves free.
Prayer is communion with God. We ask forgiveness of sins and for peace from worries and fears, and we give thanks for blessings. Again, Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). Acknowledging the need for God and His healing power is the first step in what may be a long, painful recovery.
Because Jesus Christ overcame the world, He can help you overcome your drinking problem. If you are not a Christian, ask God to forgive you, save you, and fill you with His presence. Pray for His deliverance from fear and addiction. It is one step in your recovery you won’t regret.
The Bible warns, “Do not be drunk with wine . . .” (Ephesians 5:18). Although sobriety is a worthy goal, a deepening, personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the key to a transformed life. Only a person truly repentant can be saved and healed from the torment of addiction. Jesus Christ heals the sin sickness that accompanies the pain of alcoholism. Seek help and pray fervently. Remember that God loves you. Depend on Him, and take it one day at a time.
Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version.