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5 Pitfalls on the Road to Addiction Recovery

  • Craig Brown Author
  • Updated Jun 03, 2021
5 Pitfalls on the Road to Addiction Recovery

It takes courage for someone to begin their recovery journey away from addiction, pain, and shame. It requires even more for someone to stay the course, do the work, and not be drawn back into their former unhealthy lifestyle. I can tell you this from personal experience, as I struggled with drug addiction before I heard the call of God 35 years ago to leave that life behind.

Since my own deliverance, I have worked with thousands in the Washington, D.C. area to experience the freedom that I have. You see, as Christians, we do not have to walk in defeat. We can have total victory over whatever we struggle with, whether it’s pornography, drug addiction, alcoholism, or eating disorders. There is no sin whose power is greater than God's.

In my recovery ministry, I have seen many seek help and begin the process but sadly fail to reach complete freedom. It's all too easy to hit a "pothole" on the road to recovery. Here are a few reasons people quit and leave their journey:

1. “I am doing just fine on my own. I do not need God’s help.”

I have unfortunately seen people in recovery begin again to rely on their own strength and control, and this leads to failure.

The journey to recovery requires leaning on God. That is the basis of our relationship with God. We must rely on him for sanctification, healing, and growth. When people begin to see themselves or others as the source of their progress, they lose sight of the truth; only Christ has the cure to the disease that is sin.

2. “I can indulge without overdoing it.” or “I can be around it because it doesn’t bother me anymore.”

Once someone decides to stop hiding from their pain and begin healing, it is important to identify triggers that produce temptation and will cause a relapse back into a dysfunctional life-cycle. Each of us has triggers, whether it is the smell of a warm Krispy Kreme doughnut or a familiar song. People who ignore their triggers will be unprepared to fight the temptation. If we do not give our triggers to God and ask for his help to avoid temptation when we are weak, failure is inevitable.

3. “I need this to help me deal with stress. I miss the thrill [insert habit here] used to give me.”

 The Bible instructs us to set our sights on things above and to have the mind of Christ. This is so that we do not fall prey to the desires of the flesh. It is important to reprogram yourself through the work of the Holy Spirit to desire the things of God. Ask him to restore you to the joy of salvation, and to teach you to love the things that He loves. This allows him to fill you with the desire and strength to experience true freedom, rather than temporary highs. Addiction is misery, and temporary thrills only remove that pain in the short term. Full healing is the only way to feel God's joy and peace for eternity, and it comes without sorrow.

4. "This is too hard to deal with. I don’t want to deal with pain, guilt, or shame. It’s easier just to live with it.”

Dealing with pain, shame, guilt, and hurt is not easy, and many give up during the healing process. Freedom from addiction and impure desires requires a review of past hurts, wrongs, and pain. It takes God digging up the deeply buried roots of pain and uprooting them, as well as removing any crutches and things that you've relied upon to ease the pain. Too many begin to hate the temporary pain of dealing with the past and decide to instead remain in the wilderness. Remember, if we obey God's will he has a plan and desire to free us, but he cannot do it without our cooperation. We can lean on him through the pain, and in the end, he will set you free if you do not give up.

5. “I don’t need accountability. Christians are too fake and judgmental, I’m sure God understands anyway.”

People struggling with pain and addiction need accountability. It’s a bad sign when someone stops going to recovery ministry meetings to get support and refuses to be honest with people that are loving and trustworthy. If the people around are not supportive, it may be necessary to find a new community that can be encouraging. However, a refusal to talk to anyone and to be honest is a sign of pride, and as the Bible says, pride comes before the fall. Be honest with yourself, with God, and with a trustworthy recovery community, and watch God bring about the healing needed to be set free from bad habits and addiction.

Freedom is in Christ alone, but salvation is not a shortcut. There is still work to be done for total freedom so that we can live the holy lives God called us to as his children. As Christians, we should not make excuses to hide addictions and behaviors that hurt us and the people around us. If you have strayed off the path of recovery, today is the day to recommit. Avoiding these mistakes will help you remain strong and truly be set free.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/tommaso79

Craig Brown is the Recovery pastor at Church of the Redeemer in Gaithersburg, Md, and author of the new book “Stop Hiding Start Healing” available on Amazon.com.

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