Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Infant Steps: How do I overcome addiction?

Beloved EROLyrics Readers,

Welcome to this blessed week. Covenant grace and peace be to you in the name of Jesus our Lord and Savior, who reigns forevermore. Today, we have another question on the Infant Steps Series. It has to do with addiction to smoking. When I received the question, I felt addiction is addiction, whether it is to smoking, drinking, fornication, or watching TV :-) just to name a few. Please as you respond to Greg’s question below, it will be most appreciated if your response could also help others facing any form of addiction. Thank you.

Dear Rita,
I am addicted to cigarettes for over 5 years. I have tried everything I can to stop smoking but the longest I have stayed away from the cigarette is 1 day. New Year resolutions have been futile. The most frustrating part is that I have been a born-again Christian for about two years, yet I have not been able to stop. I hope to serve the Lord with all my heart and soul, but I do not think I am worthy of being called a Christian if I cannot stop smoking.

Is my situation hopeless? Do you know what I can do to overcome this addiction? Do you know of anyone that has overcome this challenge?


If you have any questions you would like to discuss on the Infant Steps Series, please drop me an email at esurunma@gmail.com or leave the question as a comment in any of my blog posts.

All posts on the Infant Steps Series will be posted on Tuesdays, 9 AM West Africa Time.


Believer said...

I must say I am quite convicted by this email not because I smoke but because I also struggle with giving up some unhealthy habits. What I will say is that your situation is not hopeless, people are and will continue by the power of God overcome all addictions except having an addictive love for Christ. The devil will always want to use this issue as a source of condemnation, don't give him a chance.
I believe that there is NOTHING impossible with God, the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do those things we cannot do with willpower. I have read of people who struggled with drug and cigarette addiction and got delivered either INSTANTLY or through a process, bad habits are not acquired in a day and may take some time to break.
What I can advise (and for myself also) is
1. Take it to the Lord in prayer not in condemnation but admitting you don't have the power to break the habit on your own and you need His help
2. Check your association, do most of your friends smoke? I'm not suggesting you end your friendships but sometimes we need to make difficult decisions for change
3. Get accountable, do you have Christian brothers, sisters, pastors that you TRUST that can keep you accountable
4. Think about your motivation for stopping smoking, write it down,also write 1 thing that you will do differently each day that will take you towards your goal, it doesn't have to be big, it could just be that you will cut back by one stick

Sorry for the long answer, I pray this helps.

Believer said...

Forgot to add, I am first!!

akaBagucci said...

I'll be watching this space.......Sounds like a God send....

j.ifeme said...

I want to say this without sounding like i don't understand your struggle, but you need to know that the most essential thing in quiting a habit is your will. God is there but if you do not make a move and sustain efforts to stay with your decision there is little relgion can help achieve. Remember you have formed this habit out of free will, therefore you should tell yourself that the same way you can leave. Overlook your failures and focus on quiting, though it may take some time because your improvements may be infinitestimal but you can make it. Just believe.

jhazmyn said...

From my hubbys experience, i'd say this

1. Dont expect it to happen today, its a process but you need to set your heart at it.

2. Are you constantly around people that smoke? if yes, you need to break that for a while, at least until you've broken out of the habit for real.

3. Find a supplement for cigarettes, something that can take its place, for my hubby it was chewing gum.

4. And most important, keep confessing what the word says, read bible passages that speak about how we live not by the flesh but by the spirit and speak those words constantly, there's power in the spoken word. Speak to your thoughts and desires and tell them to conform to the will of God.

It worked for hubby and he stopped in a space of a few months although sometimes, he feels the urge, but he's gone through 2years clean. You can do it too

Kafo said...

i'm also on the listening bench for this one

Gee said...

ok from the little I kno yh, quitting is not a one day thing, its a process.
As a christian u know the part of the bible thats says our body is the temple of God, that is the best scripture I can think of to share with greg..

Understand that scripture well enuf to know that its not only ur physical body u hurt by smoking also we destroy Gods temple.
its good to know u r a born again christian so atleaset it is easier for u to understand this scripture and take it into practice.

Find other things to take your mind off ciggarettes, change the friends u hang around with if they dont encourage u to quit, hang around pple that r displease in smoking and delight in things that exalts the spirit man and gradually u realise bcuz u r always with pple who give good counsel/or those that have alot of church activities, u begin to realise the quitting stops gradually becuz u no longer have time to take 10mins to go smoke anymore.

And oh yeah...prayer is the key!

hopefully this helps!

chayoma said...

jhazmyn's comment is really insight on this one.
what can i say that hasn't already been said.
SHLD follow up more...

Favoured Girl said...

The first important thing is to REALLY want to quit. Sometimes we know something is bad for us, but we still derive a secret thrill from doing it and that pleasure keeps us coming back to it again and again.

If you really want to quit an addiction, stop seeing it as something you are powerless to control and start seeing it as something really disgusting that robs you of good things, such as: time, money, self-confidence, peace of mind, closeness to God, etc. Once your mindset changes, you will have the strength and willpower to start fighting the habit.

Secondly, do not give up! Habits are formed over time, so it will take time to break them. If you relapse once or twice, do not see yourself as a failure, pick yourself up again and keep going with determination. Every time you resist the temptation, the habit slowly loses its hold on you.

Thirdly, voice your desire to quit to someone. Once you have said it, it will be harder for you to go back on your word. Put it in your prayers also, and ask God to help you when your flesh is weak. Breaking addictions is a battle over the lusts of the flesh and we need God's help to continue fighting temptations. With GOD all things are possible!

Fourth, replace a bad habit with a good one. If you give up cigarettes for example, your mind will start looking for something else to fill the void. I know someone who chopped carrots into cigarette-sized strips, so when his cravings started, he simply picked up a carrot and started chewing it slowly.

And finally, set a goal or target and a reward! For example, if you manage to go for two days without smoking (or indulging in the addiction) set a reward for yourself. Your brain will start to look forward to those rewards, giving you an extra incentive to quit the habit.

All the best!

Anonymous said...

i'm addicted to watching porn as well, please how can I over come this?
My thoughts are always on sex, sex, sex and sometimes i think dat it is unfair for us to abstain from sex and we are not allowed to watch porn, masturbate or do anything to alleviate the tension. It's so frustrating. Help. i know that i need to stop but I just can't. If I'm not watching it, I am thinking of it in scenarios and I can't really say that I'm a sexaholic because i am currently abstaining from sex. I need your advice on this topic. thanks


Original Mgbeke said...

I will be on the side lines watching for the answers. :-)

Good Naija Girl said...

A lot of these helpful comments can be directed to other addictions, such as consuming sugar, which I do too regularly. I'm definitely taking notes.

Thank you.

David C Brown said...

Just to emphasise the earlier reference to the Holy Spirit; ask for His help.

I also heard of someone who was told to give God thanks before a cigarette as he did for his food - when he found that he couldn't give God thanks he felt he couldn't have the cigarette!

And have Christ as your object in doing it.

Writefreak said...

God can help us out of any situation. He gives the grace to overcome whatever temptation we're going through.
The problem comes when we want to solve such problems with our human ability....God gives the grace!

simeone said...

one thing i know is will power will only get any body with bad habits so far..cos by strength shall no man prevail ..that why takin it to God and asking for his help his first...i totally agree with Believer ..the right company of people is important..and also there sld be a substitute for it.......research says it takes 30 days or 30 times to cultivate a habit..not sure how long the undoing is supposed to take..but 1 day at a time..with God..nothin is undoable..

Vera Ezimora said...

I'm not addicted to cigarettes or anything like that, but I have my own addictions: they're in my mind. I only pray for God to deliver me. And I know He will deliver you too.

Rick said...

However simplistic it sounds, it is very helpful, I think, to remember that you are not your addictions. Easy to talk about, but if you spend enough time thinking and praying for help to truly realize this, it will help tremendously. Just as we can choose which shoes to wear in the morning because those shoes are just objects, it helps to step back and realize that we can choose our behaviors, too.

Geebee said...

First thing you need to know Greg, is that your situation is not hopeless and there is nothing as 'a hopeless situation'. Remember as long as there is life, there is hope. All you need do is rise above your itch. Endure whatever pain you might have to endure by abstaining from smoking. All it takes is the first day. Usually, subsequent days are easier than the first few days. I've been there bro. Addiction (of whatever kind) is like a worm eating at a sore. It takes persistence and of course God's grace to overcome it.

Madam said...

Jhazmyn thanks!

I sooooooo understand what the reader is saying. I am addicted to the internet and procrastination which seriously affects my work. I am constantly reading Nigerian news and blogs...particularly at work and then I feel so guilty for stealing work time. I know I'd hate to have my employee act like that. I have been trying to break this habit for two years also and it really affects me because when I need to speak to God, I am reminded of the guilt of my addiction. Also when anything goes wrong financially, I feel I am paying for cheating my company.

I pray about it and I have started confessing God's righteousness in the hope that soon I have little desire to waste precious time or procrastinate.

Anyone with any more practical tips?

jhazmyn said...

@ madam ,
I just tot of a suggestion that might help, either you personally try to regulate ur browsing time, or if ur on a network you can ask the IT person at work to help log you off at times when you dont want to browse, leaving u logged on for maybe 1-2 hours a day.
That way, even if u try you wont be able to access the internet.

Its worth a try..

Rita said...

Dear Greg, Anonymous and Madam,
I would like to treat your questions as a general case of addiction before I go to specifics.

1. Every addiction starts subtly. Either in the mind or through performing certain acts over and over again.

2. Every addition gives “transient” pleasure. For the time you are engaged in the addiction, you will agree with me that there is a pleasure or satisfaction derived.

3. Every addiction does something negative. It could either stir up feelings of regret, guilt, concern or worry, after it is done. It could lead to more sin and mistakes. It affects your spiritual growth. It makes you not to live fully in the purpose for which you are called. It could affect your mental and physical health. The list is endless.

Rita said...

4. Every addiction requires drastic measures. It should not be taken lightly especially when it is affecting your spiritual life. The decision you will have to take may be painful, decisive and seemingly unbearable but your light affliction is ever more preparing, producing and achieving for you an everlasting weight of glory, a blessedness never to cease! [2 Cor. 4:17, AMP]. Keep your focus on what you want to achieve.

5. Because nature abhors vacuum (as the saying goes), if you have to stop an addiction, you have to replace it with something else, but in this case, something that will not harm you. Greg, you can refer to the suggestions in the comments above.

6. Realize that you cannot do it on your own. No determination or efforts will help if you do not seek help from God. `Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts [Zech 4:6, KJV].

7. You need to get to the point where you hate the addiction to help you be committed to work with God to overcome it. Consider the harm the addiction could cause you. Think about what it is currently doing to your finances, relationships, organization, commitments, health, peace and purpose on earth. Is that where you want to be for the rest of your life?

Rita said...

8. If you fall after making the commitment, do not remain in that low state. The enemy can give you a million reasons why you cannot make it. But God’s grace is sufficient for you and His strength is made perfect in weakness [2 Cor. 12:9]. Remember to run quickly to God, ask for forgiveness and start afresh.

9. Take it one moment at a time. Give yourself small milestones. Celebrate your milestones and believe that if you can do it for 1 day, you can do it for 2 days…days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years.

10. CUT OFF from the person(s), place or thing that encourages you to give into the addiction. The bible teaches us that “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is better (more profitable and wholesome) for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into everlasting fire [Matt 18: 8 AMP]”. If being alone will cause you to fall, be with around people (that will make you not fall).

11. You must be accountable to someone. You need someone who you are “scared of”. Someone who will check on you or you will have to see regularly (not call or text). The person has to be stronger than you spiritually.

Rita said...

In addition to the comments I have put above, I write specifically:

I know someone who successfully overcome addiction to cigarettes. He was a 35 year old man. In his case, he was at the point of death, the doctors could not help him, and his last resort was to go to a church. After they prayed for him, they told him he had to stop smoking before the prayers can manifest in him. I doubt if you want your situation to get to that stage. Now that the Holy Spirit has put it in you to stop, it is time to stop.

go and see a pastor. This addiction in secret could eat you up. God wants sexual purity for His children and no form of sexual immorality is condoned by God. Talk to your pastor, get counseling and prayers as well. Some links that can help are listed below.


please forgive yourself and believe that God has already forgiven you. You have taken the right step to start confessing God’s word over the situation. Like Jhazmyn suggested, talk with the IT people. It might lead to you cutting of browsing relevant things but it will help you become disciplined and generate a new pattern of work (where you have specific time for browsing and specific time for work).

Rita said...

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments.