99Relapses Podcast Episode #7 Part II- 5 Characteristics of Addiction Show Notes

Hi, I’m James Egidio welcome to the 99Relapses Podcast, the podcast that moves you from recovery to discovery through the grace and mercy of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. This is episode number seven, part two five characteristics of addiction. In the last episode I defined addiction and covered three of the five characteristics of addiction. In this episode, I will finish up explaining the last two characteristics of addiction which is loss of willpower and distortion of attention, I will also define security addictions and finally, I will discuss what attraction and aversion addictions are. To recap. Episode number six when I discussed the three characteristics of addiction, which were the first three tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and self-deception. Let me speak a little bit about tolerance. I explained tolerance as being expressed by wanting or needing more of the addictive behavior object of attachment in order to feel satisfied and I explained you can never get enough with an addiction and especially with substance abuse, addictions. It’s normally referred to as a jonesing and it sounds something like if I can only get some more, everything would be fine and with non-addictive substance or behavioral addictions, I compared and contrasted how making money and working go hand in hand where you work harder to make more money you spend more money to work more hours to make more money and I called this the hamster wheel mentality or the hamster wheel effect. This leads to other areas in life that become neglected such as marriage and health. The second Characteristic of addiction that I had mentioned was withdrawal symptoms and I mentioned that there were two types of withdrawal symptoms. There’s the stress-related physiological through the nervous system type of withdrawal symptoms, which manifest into psychological outburst of mild uneasiness, irritability, agitation, rapid pulse, tremors and overwhelming panic and then there’s also, the physiological withdrawals from let’s say opiates like heroin or pain medication where you have the actual physical withdrawal symptoms. Then I mentioned the second type of withdrawal symptom, which is what they call a rebounder backlash reaction which is commonly in people who’ve used methamphetamine or cocaine and they will have an opposite effect of what those drugs do, which they would crash and sleep and go into a deep depression. Finally, in episode number six, I talked about Deception. Which is one of the most pronounced characteristics of addiction and this is where the addicted brain uses mind tricks, I call it allowing Santan or the enemy to attack, where you use self-denial, rationalization, displacement and lying to yourself and of course, lying to others and this all leads into sinful behavior besides the actual addiction being the sinful behavior.

So those were the first three of the five characteristics of addiction that I had mentioned in episode number six and I would like to finish up this series, this part two of five characteristics of addiction by discussing loss of willpower, which is number four and then finally, number five, distortion of attention.

Let me just jump right into loss of willpower. Loss of willpower, is that as soon as you try to control your addiction on your own and through your own willpower you begin to become self defeated and you self defeat yourself and you fall short. I can’t begin to tell you how many people that I personally encountered over the last several years, who we’re in and out of secular rehab centers and outpatient centers who received non-faith based Christian counseling and felt that they can get through their addiction in their own willpower and I can tell you right now that a very small percentage of people succeeded with this model this type of model of non-faith based, trying to get through on their, own accord and through their own willpower and if they did they relapsed after a while I mentioned that in episode number three and four. The only way, I found, and know that you could get through an addiction requires a full surrender of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The concern that I have with programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, which is NA and Alcoholics Anonymous, AA is that they steer at the addicted individual on a path of relying on a higher power rather than the one true God, which is Jesus Christ unlike Celebration for Recovery which focuses on sobriety through Jesus Christ exclusively.

Addiction is defeated and only defeated by fully surrendering to Jesus Christ and there’s three verses in the Bible that come to mind when I think about willpower and getting through it, through Jesus Christ and not on your own and that’s comes from the Bible in

John 14:6-7, where it reads, where Jesus says I am the way the truth and the life no one can come to the father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him and then

Matthew 16:24, then Jesus told his disciples if anyone would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me and then

James 4:7 reads submit yourself therefore to God resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Unfortunately for addicted individuals a lot of times sobriety is cut short by mixed emotions of sincerely wanting to be free from these addictions and wanting to continue, I hear a lot of clients say things like I fear taking a step to sobriety, or they’ll say the thought of quitting gets me anxious, and this is common, this goes back to what I explained in episode number five with desire and attachment that we have that innate desire for God, we’re born with this innate desire for God, but we don’t detach ourselves from the things in the outside world in order to love God and to love others.

More than we love ourselves and I had mentioned also as well in that episode that we have to put Jesus first, other second in ourselves last and we have to quit pitying ourselves in our addiction and realize that addiction is sin and through my personal experience I found that the clients that had the most success with sobriety and I’m talking probably 70 to 80% who were fully committed and gave their life to Jesus Christ had put their addiction behind them. This also applied to clients that I encountered who were trying to get through behavioral addiction, such as pornography and gambling.

So one of the biggest obstacles to successful sobriety is this thing of self-will and willpower and resolutions. We all make resolutions and we know this from experience that, the turn of every year, there’s a new year, we all make resolutions, and the reason why resolutions fail is because it’s done through self-will and willpower, which we can’t do. We can’t get through. We were too weak to do that we have to get through it through Jesus Christ. When this mindset is established with willpower relapse is inevitable in which a lot of times I’ve seen where the addiction will even come back with a vengeance that’s even worse than the original addiction and it may take many relapses before one realizes how truly out of control their addiction is.

On the flip side of the client who says they are anxious or scared to quit are the clients that I encounter who say, With the most common mantras are things like. I can handle it. I can stop any time. Or I can do without it or they try to be what they call functional addicts, where they’re in denial, which I’ll get into next with distortion of attention and then they try to stop on their own, and I say, if you can do it, if you can stop on your own. Then there is no addiction.

I’m going to take a commercial break and when I come back, I’ll talk about distortion of attention

okay, welcome back to the 99 relapses podcast. In this segment, I’m going to talk about distortion of attention and I had discussed in episode number three about the fact that we have more than one addiction and that we’re not consciously aware of that and we tend to bury these addictions as an insignificant and we’re not to confuse these with co-occurring addictions, like drinking drugs and pornography no, these are addictions that continue as long as there’s no great conflict I view them as being like an, a passive addiction things like for instance, work, which I just mentioned the last segment food codependency, social media and electronic games and pornography I’ve mentioned that in episode number six, these are things that we don’t take serious because they’re socially stigmatized things that are not that serious or they don’t have a direct impact on our lives, but they actually do have a direct impact on our lives and these addictions trick the mind is what they do and they hold the mind hostage by distorting our attention and they profoundly hinder our capacity to love God first until of others second, I mentioned that as well in episodes number four and five on desire and attachment and what they do is they distract us and they have a long term effect on our relationships with people in our lives, significant others friends so on and so forth. Attention and love work in sync for love to flow freely your attention must be free. For example a person who’s challenged for instance, with heroin addiction and is seeking a fix 24 hours a day, seven days a week be preoccupied and obtaining and satisfying that fix as well as go through the physical withdrawals so you’re talking about a major distraction between trying to obtain the drug and trying to ward off the physical withdrawals, which means in essence, getting the drug to ward off the withdrawals; so think about that for a minute. There will be no room to attend to anything else other than getting that drug and warding off those withdrawal symptoms and this is why I mentioned where stabilization is important in episode number two.

Loving anything else when it comes to addiction is 100% out of the question and someone is fully involved in their addiction. This attachment robs us from our desire to love, thus, making us selfish which is sin. Addictions attack, destroy and they snuff out the holy spirit that is indwelt with us as Christians, So in essence, addiction leads to sin and is sinful and I’ll cover this in episodes, number eight and nine.

The biblical verse that resonates with this truth is found in Galatians 15:16-26 it reads., So I say, let the holy spirit guide your lives, then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the spirit wants and the spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires these two forces are constantly fighting each other so you’re not free to carry out your good intentions but when you were directed by the spirit, you’re not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins. Like these, let me tell you again, as I have before that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the kingdom of God but the holy spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there since we are living by the spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceded or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

Another name for this distortion of attention becomes the distortion of ultimate concern. Also known as idolatry. These attractions or obsessions may not be obvious or seem out of control for a lot of people or even last long but it still becomes our substitute for God and for Jesus Christ and these attachments become our God.

So as humans, we’re all perpetually attached to our possessions, physical and emotional especially when it comes to monies and finances and survival, however, Jesus turns this fixation and obsession with money and possessions and emotions and all these things that we want to hold on to upside down on its head and we can not be hard on ourselves when it comes to addiction, but we have to understand that God calls us all toward a more perfect life. We cannot achieve the state of perfection as Jesus Christ did, there’s only one Jesus Christ there’s only one God who was sinless and only Jesus Christ could have obtained that and paid the ultimate price at the cross by shedding his blood at Calvary for our sins and transgressions and it was that price that we didn’t deserve however you can move in the direction of sobriety by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior and if you haven’t already done so it’s time and you can obtain and will obtain through that salvation, sanctification with your faith in Jesus Christ and through repenting for your sins and the sins of addiction. The second thing we need to realize is that the incompleteness example relapse within us, does not make us unacceptable in God’s eyes, God loves us for who we are and accepts us for who we are and this comes from a verse in

1 John 4:16, which reads we know how much God loves us and we have to put our trust in his love and all who live in love live in God and God lives in them. In fact, our incompleteness is the empty side of our longing for God and for love that is what draws us towards God and one another. That’s where that desire, innate desire for the love of God is in us and we, once we realize that and let go of those addictions and those fixations we start loving God and we start loving others and I’ll keep going back to that concept.

When you talk about security addictions the verse that comes to mind is in Matthew 6:19-34 and it’s the verse about money and possessions. And it reads

Don’t store up your treasure is here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal, wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When you’re eye is healthy your whole body is filled with light, but when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is. No one can serve two masters for you will hate one and love the other. You will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life. Where they have enough food and drink or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow, they don’t work or make their clothing.

Yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wild flowers. That are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things saying, what will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly father already knows all your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else. And live righteously. And he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today

so in that verse. Jesus sends a clear message about how God takes care of every one of our needs and when you look at it in the grand scheme of things, when it comes to our needs for security, We begin to see and bargain with the price of freedom and of course freedom is in Jesus Christ. And what happens is our security becomes our earthly possessions and needs and these earthly possession spill over into material things such as our smartphones, money, cars and our hobbies and we neglect that the true freedom the freedom that we all want is the freedom through Jesus Christ He can only provide that freedom, and for some people, that’s a hard thing to wrap their head around. We’re meant to be truly free enough to love God and one another and true freedom can only happen if we, completely trust in God’s ultimate care for us and we have to know that and trust that to truly trust God, we must begin to relax our hold about the lesser sources of security, which we have become attached too. So if you look around society, especially in this day and age, very little supports God all around us, especially when we see bad things happening to people with pestilence, wars, and crime, and at least on our terms, God may not seem trustworthy at times our culture in this world and when I say culture communicates that truly putting oneself in God’s hand is superstitious, irresponsible or even sometimes psychotic, and, when you even look at our money and it’s reads in God, we trust which is inscribed on our money, the money itself usually feels more trustworthy then God at times, but I can assure you money is a false sense of security.

The point that I’m trying to make, is that I’m not saying that you can’t be prosperous in your career and what you do to obtain an income and money it’s just that what happens is making money becomes the object of idolatry and, you’ve heard the term where money is the root of all evil. It’s not that money’s the root of all evil it’s the idolatry of money is the root of all evil making money your God.

I’m not discounting the fact that you are to strive and what you do and do it best and do it for the Lord, do it for God, do it for Jesus Christ, as a child of God, but when you start idolizing money over God and you start substituting that money and getting distracted and even neglecting other things in your life, such as family and your faith, that’s where it becomes a problem and few, if any of us are able to follow Jesus, his call for trust completely and what’s interesting is I was just listening to a news show the other night and it was one news personality talking to another one about her Christian faith and how strong it is and he says to her; is that something that you’re not embarrassed to proclaim in public? And she said, of course not and we’re not too; were to put our ourselves out there as Christians put our neck out there and proclaim the good news and proclaim our faith with grace and whatever the consequences are so be it,

John 15:18-20 Jesus says if the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own. If you belong to it, but you were no longer part of the world. I choose you to come out of the world. So it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? A slave is no greater than the master. Since they persecute me naturally, they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me they would listen to you.

In Matthew 7:13-14. Jesus says you can enter God’s kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult and only a few ever find it

So as Christians, we must never forget, we do not belong to this world and we’re not to love this world this is even revealed in 1 John 2:15-17 where it reads do not love this world, nor the things it offers you for when you love the world you do not have the love of the father in the you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see and pride in our achievements and possessions these are not from the father, but are from this world and this world is fading away along with everything that people crave, but anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. And you can see it. You could see it right in front of her eyes, that where it says in this part of that verse. Where it reads, these are not from the father, but are from this world and the world is fading away. We see this world fading away every day. It’s deteriorating and decaying with division and Deceitfullness and we have to be aware of this at all times and know that we have the one true God, which is Jesus Christ to get us through this world and to get us through these addictions, especially. Unfortunately, rather than develop an ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ some part of us put him in a religious box and there’s a lot of people that do that, and even Christians do that they put Him in a religious box on a weekend and they pull Him out when they go to church on Saturday or Sunday and then when, as soon as church is over, they walk out and they live their life in the world and this is a 24 hour, seven day a week relationship that we have with Jesus Christ and we have to keep that in mind and it’s especially important when we’re going through our addictions and we’re going through all these things that we have Jesus and we can’t set Him aside the other six days a week and just take them out on Sunday or special holidays, like Christmas or Easter and we have to establish that relational security with him and not with, The worldly possessions.

and I hear a lot of people say things like, once I’ve gotten myself established in life with my career, my worldly obligations that I can give more time to God and that’s what they do is they try to pursue their worldly possessions, power, status, and influence and control of their own lives, instead of doing the reverse, which is giving God the full control of their lives and letting their life be guided by God, rather than their career, power, influence, in their control, and we channel this cover-up of emotions by trying to obtain financial security by overworking through self determination and autonomy, and it puts us in a world of self and this self-determining autonomy can indeed free us from feeling oppressed by other people and of course often over done. And moves us into the realm of being egotistical and selfish instead of serving freedom, autonomy and giving ourselves to the Lord. As I mentioned in podcast episode, number two, about the importance of healthy support through relationships for sobriety, healthy relationships provide us with the feeling of personal worth and value and affirmation and then these become a central source of connectedness and love, stability and solidarity in our lives and of course unhealthy relationships may have the opposite effect, which is dependency or become too possessive and codependent, which can be classified as an addiction in itself. So our sense of personal worth and goodness and lovability may become contingent on the approval of others at times and these types of relationships compromise your freedom to love God and to love others and truly love others and especially to love God.

I’m going to take a short commercial break. And when I come back, I’ll talk about Attraction. Addictions and Aversion Addictions 

Welcome back to the 99 relapses podcast just before I took this break, I mentioned I was going to talk about attraction addictions and aversion addictions and the reason why I want to mention attraction, addictions and aversion addictions is because they’re somewhat interesting and amusing in the sense that I had spoken once before, about how we are addicted to certain things or turn away from certain things that are classified as addictions and we’re not aware of it, that is the reason why I wanted to talk a little bit about attraction and aversion addictions. And let me just start with the attraction addictions. Attraction addictions are defined by addictions we’ve become attracted to, for example drugs, alcohol, food, money, social media, smartphones, television, coffee. These are things that we find pleasure in and have a desire for and these of course are some of the most obvious addictions these attraction, addictions. However desire has two sides to it; it’s dark side, which is repulsion as well, just as we may be compulsively drawn towards some things like I admit just mentioned there are things that we are compulsively pushed away from, and those are things that are classified as aversion addictions. These are addictions that potentially drive us away from attractions which are the opposite of attraction, addictions, and these are aversion addictions, and some of these would be things like phobias, phobia would be considered an aversion addiction or prejudices , bigotries, resistances, allergies, or something like that. So aversion addictions are simply attraction, addictions in reverse.

For example, if I’m addicted to cleanliness, then the question is, am I drawn toward neatness or my repelled by dirt and one of the most dangerous aversion addictions of course is anorexia instead of tolerance with attraction, addictions, where we can’t get enough of a thing we experience intolerance with the aversion addiction. So no matter how little of a thing we have, it is still too much.

In that case of anorexia would be food. So instead of withdrawal symptoms with attraction, addictions, that distress we experienced when we lose something there are approach symptoms, feelings of panic, fear or disgust., So when we get too close to the source of the aversion addiction, we move away from it. So keep in mind as we close out that true addictions or compulsive habitual behaviors that eclipse and snuff out our desire and love for God and others, as well as compromise our freedom. And these are characterized by tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, loss of power and distortion of attention.

That’s the main takeaway of this entire podcast. The only goodness that comes from addiction is that they defeat our pride and lead us to more openness to grace and that’s the most beautiful thing about it. i’m going to close out this podcast episode with the prayer and with a few closing statements

Heavenly Father, I just give you so much thanks and praise for another opportunity to bring a podcast to the listeners who are challenged with addiction. Lord I just thank you so much for that opportunity without you I couldn’t do it Lord, and as I continue to pray, Lord I just thank you so much for your son Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior, who we have to continue to lean on in our times of addiction in these chains of addiction and that the only way we can break these chains of addiction is if we continue to lean on your son, Jesus Christ, and on you, God and we can’t do it with our willpower alone we have to continue to stay the course and stay on the path of sobriety only through your son, Jesus Christ and Lord I pray for everyone that’s listening to this podcast that you continue to watch over them a place to hide your protection around them for their addictions and that you free them from these addictions and i just thank you again in your son’s name Jesus Christ Amen.

Thank you for listening to this episode of the 99 relapses podcast for current and past podcast episodes, episode show notes, episode memory verses, episode recovery exercises, as well as Bibles and books on addiction and recovery go to 99 relapses.org. That’s 99 relapses.org. Also, if you would like prayer requests for yourself, family or friends, please do not hesitate to send me your prayer request.

If you have any interesting story to share about how God changed your life through addiction and recovery or an expert in the field of Christian addiction and recovery, have published a book, have a Christian addiction recovery podcast, or website and you would like to promote it on the 99 relapses podcast, please email me anytime by going to 99 relapses.org and go to the contact page to message me and I will respond within 24 to 48 hours. Also, the 99 relapses podcast is a nonprofit 501 C3 ministry and a donation in any amount would be much appreciated in order to get God’s word out during perilous times when confronted with an out of control addiction.; All proceeds, go towards covering the expenses for the podcast creation, content as well as the functionality of the podcast episodes thank you. And God Bless 📍