Question: Addiction Is A Disease or Choice?

Anonymous asked:

Do you believe that addiction is a disease (as in a biological or psychological condition) or that it is a self-imposed affliction based on choice?

Hey my friend, first of all: If you’re suffering from an addiction, please get help with this right away.

Having fought a fifteen year porn addiction and also being a Psych major (the latter which doesn’t make me any kind of authority), I can tell you that the inside of addiction is a lot like the dual theory of light — it is made of both waves and photons, just as addiction can be both biological and a choice.

It doesn’t work to say it’s only one or the other.  On one hand, it’s been proven biologically that some people are more likely to be sensitive to alcohol and substance addiction.  There are some who have a propensity for gambling, for spending, for sex.  We must not be so hard on them, since they’re (probably) wired this way.

At the same time, to constantly claim that addiction is a disease is often abused to give permission for irresponsible behavior.  If I kept claiming that my former porn addiction was a “disease,” which was possibly true, then I could’ve also subconsciously found excuses to continue ruining my life through porn and supporting a brutally exploitative industry.  Yes, maybe it was a disease.  But it was also a choice, and I took deliberate steps to get it under control and kill it once and for all.  I know how I’m physically wired, but I can still do something about it.

The Western culture has this funny habit of overtly ducking responsibility.  We’re always finding loopholes out of laws, always trying to get the most from our car insurance, always lying our way out of consequences.  No one wants to do the hard work of owning up to their own lives.  It’s a serious problem.  You have fifteen year olds trying to act like “grown ups” by reenacting Grand Theft Auto, but when they get caught and punished, they cry, “I’m just a kid.”

Immature people want all the fun but none of the strings attached.  You see the inconsistency and the inauthenticity.  I don’t mean to sound like an old-fashioned preacher here.  But I just don’t want our vocabulary to cover up the obvious truth.  We’re often a weak-minded people who will look for any avenue to be selfish, and I don’t want to enable anyone for even a second to implode.

If you’re saying “disease,” then you must also say it’s treatable.  There can be recovery.  We can’t leave that part out either.  I pray we would be serious about this and not find one more rationalization for laziness.

If I’ve sounded hard here: I don’t mean to diminish the problem.  I definitely know that addictions are not beaten overnight and it can be a lifelong struggle to limp through them.  But even if it’s limping: by the grace of God, so we must struggle on.  Seek the help and be willing to do the hard work.

— J.S.

4 thoughts on “Question: Addiction Is A Disease or Choice?

  1. Great post, as usual. I’m a 52-year-old Christian who has struggled with addiction/sin most of my life, alcoholism being the most visible, but there are others. (That’s how I first found this sight, lol.) Anyway, I’m close to 90 days into my latest stint at sobriety(the longest “dry” period in nearly 20 years)-by the Grace of God and the Celebrate Recovery program. We are just getting into the “inventory” phase and I Googled, “Biblical basis for moral inventory.” I found many Christian-based recovery groups, but also some who condemn the concept of taking certain steps or principles to recovery. The gist of the anti-recovery rhetoric seems to be that once we were saved, our “old man”, including addictions or propensities was dead and 12 Step or other recovery groups were other-than-biblical. Reading this has cast doubt on where I’m now at in recovery and effected my momentum. All i know is that I was “saved” earlier in life but always struggled with addictions or as CR calls them, hurts, hang-ups, and habits. The disease/addiction concept and outright sinful tendencies seem to both have merits. All i want is to get closer to a loving God, have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and receive deliverance and healing from wasted decades of existence.


    1. Thank you my friend for sharing that.
      I got a little pushback for the post and I guess I should’ve made more clear: there is certainly a biological element to this whole thing which will sometimes require medicine and very intense therapy. I would never discount that. I also think Celebrate Recovery and those other programs can do some deep good for the recovering. I tend not to think this is either/or, but both/and — that addiction is both a physiological and a choice, and for each person, could be more one than the other. Certainly God has made room for many types of recovery, and I wouldn’t ever want to cast a burden on your process of healing.


      1. Thanks for your response, Jae. You certainly haven’t cast any burdens-rather gave me (and a lot more, I’d imagine) some hope. I got a little off topic (I’ll use the poetic license of a still wet brain, lol) but somethings has been bothering me and cast doubt on my recovery since I read them. Basically, step based recovery programs tend to put a high emphasis on dealing with your past and how it’s shaped you into your current self. I’ll admit there’s a degree of psychology (group therapy aspects) and revealing your sins to God and another human being. Opponents of this type of recovery say that the 12 Step programs are a recent concept and that people managed to get healed for thousands of years without them. They say that Christian-based groups use biblical references out of context and water down the habitual sin aspect of addictions. They also deny the validity of confession (to another human being) and the whole inventory thing. I guess you could use the same train of thought to oppose therapy, counseling, and even medication for mental illness’s.
        My support of groups like Celebrate Recovery is based on my own experience so I can’t simply dismiss opposing viewpoints just because they differ from what I’m currently involved in. Still, I want much more than “just sobriety” when it comes to living the Christian life and preparing myself and family for eternity. As I mentioned, I’m just about at 90 days and about to take the steps involving inventory and confession, so this confusion is a bit of a road block. I do know that in the three months I’ve been sober, A LOT of garbage that has been quelled down inside by chemicals has started raising to the surface. Anger, lust, control issues, egotistical selfishness, etc.These things have always been there but alcohol and drugs “kept it in check” so to speak. Suffice to say, the joy and freedom I felt after a prolonged period of sobriety has started to wane and I realize that whatever method i use, there are a lot more issues than just booze to deal with. I DO KNOW that no matter what issues I deal with, I CAN be delivered and experience healing through Jesus Christ and the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Just starting to get confused about how that all takes place and if i’m “doing it the right way.” Aloha & God Bless!


  2. Hi Chas…….nice to meet yo!………first I’m happy that you’ve done SO well!…….and I know you’re right on track with getting closer to the Lord……thru the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ………….the Bible is my ‘haven’, which I run to when I’m weak and threatened by ‘you know who’, and his many, many demons………’s easy to get ‘lost’ in the vastness of this material world crammed with information and advice and answers to this or that, or the other…..DISTRACTIONZ…& TEMPTATIONZ..but I’ve found that focusing on my relationship with God blocks all the ‘crap’ out and speaks to me SO clearly……….focuses me and reassures me, in many, many ways……………..I’ve only been a Christian for about 6 months – God came to me when he saved my life, and delivered me to remote island Gospel Rehab……somewhere out in the South China Sea……….with 20 Nepalese ‘street-fighting’ drug addicts and 30 Chinese triads, also drug addicts………..I was the only ‘Brit’ and only alcoholic………..I’ve only been out of Rehab 3 months…………and for the first two I went back to the place and the people who put me there…… see my 5 year old daughter who’s mum won’t let me see her………the last three months have been harder than the 9 months on the island………’cos I was on my own…… disciplined spiritual schedule….homeless and jobless……….soon started stealing, drinking, nearly fighting…….ALL my past habits rushing back………so now I’m staying with my sister in Singapore for spiritual re-charging.
    God works in mysterious ways……….I’ve only found this site ‘cos I met a girl at a flea market and bought some of her awesome art……….turned out I was the only one who appreciated her art and bought some that day, and she was on the verge of giving up…………she is a Christian, and sent me this link, and told me that her church has a ‘cell-group’ of ex-offenders and addicts………… I’m going there tommorrow.
    i’M SORRY it’s been a mee-mee, my-my e-mail………just introducing myself………..I hope we can talk some more…………..I’ve got some amazing things to share from my last intense year………..I think I can help you……………and you me……IF YOU LIKE……tell me MORE!
    How long have you been a practicing Christian?
    You’re doing WELL mate!
    Stay strong!
    my e-mail address……


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