[tweet_dis]Are you on a wheel that is turning and you can’t get off?[/tweet_dis] I remember thinking so many times “stop the world, I want to get off!!”
That is what the cycle of addiction feels like when one is caught in its vicious cycle. Let’s take a look at a diagram of the cycle of addiction.
It is as if a whirlwind has taken over and you are moving along through the stages of this cycle without control. The cycle starts with “Triggers” and ends with “Abstinence”, then typically repeats itself. However, the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (NASB). What I want to emphasize is that God ALWAYS makes a way of escape when we are tempted. Most often, we have our focus on the temptation rather than looking for the way of escape that God has promised. As I walk you through the stages of the cycle of addiction I want to share with you some ideas as to what to look for, and even to prepare for ahead of time, in finding God’s escape route. Because with each stage of the cycle of addiction, God does provide a way of escape.
Looking at addiction from a bird’s eye view like this provides clarity and perspective to the whirlwind of addiction. Instead of being trapped within an unstoppable whirlwind, you can prepare ahead of time to deal with each phase of the cycle. In doing so you will begin to see the various ways God provides for you to escape from that which tempts you.
Let’s walk through the addiction cycle diagram which was created by Phil Monroe, a Christian psychologist. I also want to credit Luke Gilkerson for his contributions on the stages of addiction. These gentlemen have written about their insights on God giving “ways of escape” in each stage of the addiction cycle that I have gained from. Here, I add some additional thoughts on God providing a way of escape in each stage of addiction.
The triggers are usually the start to the cycle. For each individual they are different. They can be a phone call, an email, a smell, a thought, a memory, a situation, a feeling.
Tempting thoughts are when you start to ponder the idea of going to search out pornography or a sexual experience.
SUDS are “seemingly unimportant decisions”. The little decisions that get us closer to acting out in sexual addiction. An example of this would be if it is ultimately pornography on the computer that is your temptation you may decide at this stage to just go and check your email or to go on-line to verify some information.
Indulgence is clear in its definition. It is usually accompanied by a false sense of control that “I can handle it”.
On the diagram, there is also a direct line from triggers to indulge. Many who are deep in addiction move extremely quickly between triggers and indulging to the point they almost cannot identify the steps in between. In those situations, it is even more critical to be keenly aware of the cycle of addiction, your own typical behaviors, and to be prayerfully on the lookout for God’s way of escape.
Indulgence is not the conclusion of the cycle of addiction. There are following stages and God continues to have ways of escape in each stage. In Part 2 of this blog post I will continue with Defeated Interpretations, Guilt, Penance, and Abstinence.
I encourage you to spend some time pondering this verse of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (NASB). This is a wonderful promise from our Father God!