In contrast to some in the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul emphasized to Christians the importance of refusing to develop controlling, addictive behaviors (1 Cor 6:12). An addiction is not simply a bad habit. It is a felt need for an external substance (drugs, alcohol, food), activity (worked, shopping), unhealthy relationships (which is, with an abusive person), or certain feelings or circumstances (being in control, ecstatic feelings). An addiction is an excessive, overpowering need that is repetitive and insistent. The first phase of an addiction is usually a mental preoccupation with the feeling, substance, or act. The second phase is doing whatever is necessary to have it.
Relief or pleasure is always involved in an addiction, even though unpleasant, consequences may follow. Although its power may be denied, the addiction controls the addicted woman to such an extent that reason or logic alone cannot free her. The thing to which she is addicted becomes a priority in her life and will ultimately prove destructive.
Addictions mask emotional pain by offering an escape from reality. The Lord’s desire for the addicted woman is not only that she will embrace reality and face honestly herself, others, and God (Isaiah 59:12) but also that she might be healed of the pain driving her to seek an escape (Isaiah 58:6).
HEALING: Addictions – Overcoming in His Power
Simply stopping an addictive behavior is rarely sufficient for true wholeness in the addict’s life. The underlying cause – for which the addiction provides protection by covering up painful, shame-filled feelings and unmet needs – must be healed. Without healing the underlying pain, taking away its mask only increases pain and anxiety and often leads to either the return of that addiction or the substitution of another one.
Healing begins with a recognition that an addiction exists and that the person is unable to overcome that addiction in her own power. With this must come a willingness to allow God to touch and meet the underlying needs. As God begins to meet the deeper need, the addict then finds herself able to make the Spirit-empowered choice both to lay down the addictive behavior that has served as pseudo-protection and to follow and obey Jesus as He renews her mind (Luke 9:23-25; Rom. 12:1,2)
The importance of support and accountability by caring believers cannot be overstated. They are frequently used by God both to mirror the seriousness of the problem to the addict and to provide the consistent encouragement and strength needed to overcome the addiction (Gal 6:2,3).
Women’s Study Bible