Freedom Connection

The Vicious Cycle – Part 2

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Dec 10

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The vicious cycle of addiction: it truly is vicious in every sense of the word.  It rips lives apart, rips families apart, it destroys futures and leaves the addict alone and empty inside.  However, there is HOPE!  The hope lies in the fact that one does not need to continue in the cycle of addiction.  God has promised a way of escape.  Freedom is possible for YOU.

In review of Part 1 of the blog post on “The Vicious Cycle”, 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).   I want to emphasize that [tweet_dis]God ALWAYS makes a way of escape[/tweet_dis] when we are tempted.  You must start looking for the way of escape when temptation comes your way.  It may be a paradigm shift for you to start looking for the way of escape rather than focusing on the temptation.

In Part 1 (http://wp.me/p122Xf-2m ) I defined the stages of triggers, tempting thoughts, SUDS (seemingly unimportant decisions), and indulgence.  I also gave some thoughts to consider concerning ways of escape and questions to ask yourself and to ask Father God.   Let’s take one more look at the diagram of the cycle of addiction. I will then address the final stages.

Again, I would like to credit Phil Monroe[1] and Luke Gilkerson[2]  for their insights on the stages of addiction and their writings on God providing a way of escape in each stage.

Addiction Cycle by Phil Monroe

As I walk you through these final stages of the cycle of addiction I want to show you what to look for, and how to prepare ahead of time to find God’s escape route.  With each stage of the cycle of addiction, God DOES provide a way of escape.

Defeated Interpretations

Defeated Interpretations is when we feel we have broken our promises to ourselves.  We justify that we may as well continue sinning since we already indulged.  We messed up so we might as well indulge in a big way.

  • Way Of Escape –  Identify the defeated interpretations.  The sense that you have sinned and you may as well continue sinning comes when your identity is in your addiction.  If there is no understanding of the separation of who you are as a person from your addiction, there is no reason not to feel totally defeated.  You believe you cannot get up again.  The way of escape is for you to realize that you are a person worthy of God’s love, and that you can be free.  Your identity is not your addiction.  What you did by acting out was wrong, your behavior was wrong, however you are a person who is loved by God and can find freedom, forgiveness and healing.  The way of escape from defeated interpretations is to realize you do not have to continue in addictive behavior, that is not who you really are.  Your identity, who you REALLY are, is someone of great worth.  Jesus died for you.  You have great value. You can be free.  The Bible says in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”(NIV).  He loves you!

 Guilt

Eventually we move to guilt which prolongs defeated thoughts.

  • Way Of Escape –  Identify the feelings of guilt.  Guilt, shame, condemnation… all words that express how one feels after indulging in addictive behavior.  Are the thoughts “I’m unforgivable” or “I am a failure and I’ll never be able to change” sound familiar?  These thoughts only bring defeat.  The way of escape is to turn to God when you know you have done wrong.  God does NOT bring these negative feelings of guilt and shame.  He does bring conviction, which is much different.  Conviction is focused on what you have done that is wrong; it is NOT about you being a bad or wrong person.  Conviction draws you to God in repentance to ask for His forgiveness which is the escape out of the cycle of addiction. Through conviction, God is saying what you have done is wrong, and you need to come to Him because Jesus paid the price for your sin on the cross.  The answer is not within you, but is with the Lord Jesus.  Repent, and ASK for God’s forgiveness and RECEIVE His forgiveness.

A note about repentance.  Repentance is not being sorry you got caught in some activity.   True repentance is a godly sorrow over your sin. It is a change of heart and mind that leads to a change in action and attitude.  Simply being sorry for your sin does not cause change, but rather a genuine remorse that you have grieved a loving God.  If you do not sense this true repentance within your heart, ask God to give you a repentant heart.  He will answer your prayer.

 Penance

Move into penance to try to do good to make up for what we did that was bad.  Try to get ourselves “clean”.

  • Way Of Escape –  Identify your means of penance.  Think of the ways you try to “make up” for your addiction.   What promises do you make God in trying to make up for your failures?  Do you promise to pray more, do more good deeds for family and friends, do you give more money to the poor?  Do you make promises to God you can never fulfill?  What things do you do in order to try and make up for your addictive behavior?  Some of these things may be “good things”.  These activities, no matter how “good” they are, cannot make up for any behavior.  You cannot buy or trade good behaviors for a pure heart before God.  Good deeds done with the wrong motives accomplish nothing in your life.   Only repentance and forgiveness bring a pure heart.  It is critical that you realize that the resolution to your sin is not within you, however resolution lies only in what Jesus did for you on the cross.  This is the way of escape: the resolution to your sin (addictive behavior) is accepting that Jesus paid the price for your sin.  He took the punishment for your sin upon Himself.  It is running to Jesus with an honest heart, not covering over the sin and trying to make yourself look and feel good by good works.

 Abstinence

This leads to a time of abstinence.  And the cycle tends to repeats itself.

After taking a look at the stages of the addiction cycle, can you recognize this cycle taking place in your life?  Is it making sense how an initial trigger spirals into the entire acting out process (indulging), then to its repercussions and back to the beginning of the cycle?  There is a “starting point” that is prior to the actual acting out.  Sometimes there is an extended period of time between the trigger and the acting out, other times it happens very quickly.  However, there is a space of time.  What are you going to do with that time?

Again, I remind you of the Bible verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that assures us that God has a way of escape for us.  In all of these stages of the addiction cycle, there are ways of escape and you need to watch for them.  If you are mindlessly going to stay in the cycle and have not thought through these stages of addiction,  you will continue to repeat the cycle and  not even notice the escape routes as you pass them.  In order to succeed in finding the escape routes, you must

  • be deliberate in your planning
  • get creative in your solutions
  • think things through ahead of time
  • paradigm shift – look for the escape routes instead of keeping focus on the temptation
  • be determined to seek out even the smallest changes to detour yourself from the addiction cycle

ABOVE ALL, the planning and actions that you take need to be done with wisdom and strength from Father God.  He is the One who can help you see the escape routes and give you the strength to use the escape routes.

Have you found escape routes to help you out of the cycle of addiction?  Any creative ideas that have helped you?  I encourage you to leave your ideas in the comment section of this blog post. Your creative solutions may help someone else find their escape route.

I leave you with a verse from the Bible that has encouraged me many times.  In Philippians 1:6 it says “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV).

God has begun a work in you; He has promised to complete what He starts.  He will not give up on you.  Don’t give up on yourself!

 

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