What Happened – How did I get HERE?
Understanding How You Fell into the Trap of Addictions
In order to break free from the bondage of addictions, you need to first understand how you fell into this trap in the first place!
As mentioned in the introduction, the mind-set behind addictions is the need to be loved unfulfilled, a low self-esteem and the resultant insecurities that come from that. However, this way of thinking did not begin in your mind – it began in the spiritual realm: Addictions develop through something called: “The spirit-soul-body connection.” 1 Thessalonians 5 v 23 shows that as a human being you are made up of three parts: you have a spirit, you have a soul (which consists of your mind (which you use to think), your free will (which you use to make decisions) and emotions) and then you live in a body.
AN ACCUSING SPIRIT
SPIRIT – SOUL – BODY
Ephesians 6 v 12: “For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”
In Ephesians 6 v 12 Paul described an invisible kingdom that answers to Satan – he said we don’t wrestle with flesh and blood but against principalities, powers of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness…in other words evil spirits. In, 2 Timothy 1 v 7, God said, “He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind”.
That spirit of fear is a part of the invisible kingdom of Ephesians 6 v 12. In Revelations 12 v 10 the devil is described as the ‘accuser of the brethren’. Just as you get a spirit of fear, you get an unloving accusing spirit which accuses you to yourself and makes you feel bad about yourself. How it does this is by giving you thoughts in the first person…and here is the big deception of the devil! The Bible says not to be ignorant of satin’s devices or strategies. John 10 v 10 explains that the enemy is like a thief who wants to steal, kill and destroy your life. He does this by leading you into temptation and sin which involves a way of thinking that is opposite to the Word of God.
How he leads you into sin and temptation is by giving you thoughts in the first person – so as to deceive you into thinking that those are your thoughts and feelings – and you don’t even realize that it is the enemy speaking to you. For example, an unloving accusing spirit is not going to put a thought in your mind which says, “Hello this is the accusing spirit speaking to you! I come from the devil and he told me to tell you to hate yourself.” If it was that blatant, you would never listen to and believe his lies. So he cleverly gives you those thoughts in the first person, “I hate myself! I feel so guilty for all that I have done. I feel so bad about this and that etc.” Because those thoughts came in the first person, you think that they are your thoughts and feelings…and so you follow that way of thinking as if it were you – and you begin to feel bad about yourself, to come under condemnation and feel guilty, to have a low self-esteem and eventually to hate yourself.
An unloving accusing spirit has been accusing you to yourself for a long time and training you to think badly of yourself and you didn’t even realize it. You became one with those accusing thoughts as if they were yours -and now you’ve believed that lie all your life that you are no good.
As you meditate on those thoughts of guilt, shame, condemnation, self-disapproval, self-rejection, self-bitterness and self-hatred, you build a long term memory which stores all of this information in your brain. So now the low self-esteem, guilt and self-hatred has become a part of you physically and you have become one with the accusing spirit, in spirit, soul and body which by its fallen nature wants you to believe that God does not love you, you don’t love yourself, and others don’t love and accept you. The more you meditate on those thoughts, the stronger this memory becomes. This memory is toxic and it has the following effects on the body:
1. THE HYPOTHALMUS LOWERS THE SEROTONIN LEVELS
The hypothalamus is the chemical factory of the brain. When you have a lack of self-esteem and your thought life is dominated by thoughts of self-disapproval, self-rejection, condemnation, guilt, shame or you are not feeling loved in an area, your hypothalamus senses these spiritual and emotional problems one of the first things that the hypothalamus does in response to this is to lower the levels of serotonin. Serotonin is the hormone in the brain that is called the “feel good” hormone because it makes you feel good about yourself. So whenever you have a deficiency of serotonin, you feel terrible about yourself .No matter what you do…you feel depressed. That is clinical depression by definition – a deficiency of serotonin. When those serotonin levels are low, you don’t feel right or complete physically or spiritually… and if you don’t be careful you’ll fall prey to an addiction because you’re going to start looking for a fix to make you feel complete again.
2. YOU BRING SOMETHING TO YOUR MOUTH BECAUSE THE MOUTH WAS DESIGNED AS THE CONTACT PLACE FOR LOVE AND SECURITY – THE LIPS ARE THE NUTURING POINT
When you don’t feel good about yourself, you go into insecurity. The serotonin levels in your brain are low and you are feeling depressed, and naturally you want comfort. This leads you to bring something to your mouth because the mouth was designed as the contact place for love and security – the lips are the nurturing point. That’s why children suck their thumb when they are
feeling insecure. People who smoke cigarettes have exchanged the thumb for something else! The reason cigarettes are smoked is not because of the nicotine. Science has told us that it is the nicotine of the cigarette that is causing the stress and anxiety. The person thinks they need to smoke to calm them down, when in fact it is just feeding their anxiety through stimulating the stress reaction in the body. So what is a cigarette emotionally and spiritually to a person? It has little to do with the nicotine – it is what hits the lips for nurturing. Nurturing is needed and this is driven by the need to be loved. The sucking reflex of eating or of something touching the lips has a nurturing effect. Not many people understand the depths of this need. People who have weight problems because of excessive eating have made an addiction out of food. This is a direct result of not feeling good about themselves, a lack of self-esteem and introspection where they look inside themselves and don’t like what they see. Stuffing food into their mouths is an attempt to feed the need to be loved, to fill the void and to soothe or comfort themselves because they don’t feel good about themselves. Did you know that many of the diet pills on the market have nothing to do with suppressing appetite? They work by increasing the serotonin levels, which then makes you feel good about yourself. It is an artificial way of increasing your self-esteem. Whenever you feel good about yourself, you don’t put your thumb in your mouth i.e. you have no need to put food to your mouth. However these diet pills have many terrible and dangerous side effects and are in themselves addictive.
If you try to stop an addiction to something without dealing with the toxic mind set behind addictions, you get something called cross-addictions whereby you lay down one addiction and just get addicted to something else: For example When people stop smoking, they often put on a lot of weight. They start eating a lot because they need the satisfaction of putting something to their mouth. Alcoholics can develop a problem where they like sugar, carbohydrates and desserts because the body converts the sugars and carbohydrates into alcohol. So not only does the person get the satisfaction of putting something into their mouth but they also get an alcohol fix. Alcoholics often have a characteristic “beer belly”. This weight gain is not only because of over eating, but it is also because of a slowed metabolism. The hypothalamus also responds to thoughts of a low self-esteem, guilt, condemnation and self-hatred by lowering the body’s metabolic rate. This predisposes you to putting on weight more easily because the body just does not burn the food that you eat.
The mouth – and whatever you put in it (whether it be food, cigarettes or alcohol) – is designed to bring you to emotional security. The lips are the nurturing point.
3. THE FEEL GOOD RUSH OF DOPAMINE
When people with an addiction bring the food, alcohol, cigarette or drug to their mouth, it triggers the release of dopamine which is the pleasure chemical. In order to compensate biologically for their spiritual deficiency, they need a dopamine rush! The rush of dopamine in the brain produces a “high” which brings temporary relief, comfort or fulfilment.
When a person gets the feel good rush of dopamine or the high from the alcohol, cigarette, drug, etc., what has happened is they have just gotten the chemical equivalent of what should come out of a spiritual and emotional relationship! The toxic mind-sets that cause disease come from a breakdown in relationship with God, you and others. So healing begins with restoring your relationship with God yourself and others…or put another way: loving God, loving yourself and loving others. Somebody once asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is and His said, “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. Then the second greatest commandment is like it – love your neighbour as you do yourself – upon this depends all the law and the prophets”. In other words Jesus said, “What it is all about is, loving God, loving youself and loving others!” This is true even in the area of health because when you love God, yourself and others, you won’t have any of the toxic mind-sets that cause disease! When you have a strong wholesome love relationship with God, yourself and others your body releases dopamine and serotonin and all the chemicals and hormones that you need to keep you healthy and make you feel good. If you stand complete and satisfied in your love relationship with God the Father where receiving His love enables you to love yourself and extend that love to others, you’ll have no need to go looking for love in all the wrong places.
But when you have a breakdown in relationship with God, yourself and others, whereby you have a lack of love in these three areas, you will have a deficiency of serotonin – and so you turn to a chemical to give you the feel good dopamine rush as a substitute for the dopamine rush you should have gotten from a love relationship with God yourself and others. This is all so that you can drown out your pain and hide from the fears and insecurities deep inside. Alcohol and drugs to the basal ganglia in the brain is a painkiller for emotional turmoil – it is a false comforter to remove the pain of the void of not being loved. This applies to excessive eating, cigarettes, drugs, pornography, gambling and any other addiction as well.
4. YOU SINK INTO A LOW AS THE DOPAMINE RUSH WEARS OFF
The problem with the dopamine rush is that it is short lasting and it soon wears off. You go back into real life and you bump into your old feelings of being unloved again! The feelings never went away; they were just drowned out by the chemical rush. You then sink into a “low” where you feel the pain and the despair and in that moment you are drawn to that memory of fulfilment that you had when you put the cigarette, alcohol or drug to your mouth…and so you reach for it again. This is how the negative cycle perpetuates.
Cocaine is a unique drug in that it is not actually addictive physically – it is psychologically and spiritually addictive. When a person takes cocaine for the first time, there is a massive amount of dopamine that is released which produces the effect in the body of a massive orgasm. During sexual intimacy between a husband and wife, dopamine is released in an orgasm which gives the emotional completeness of the spiritual and psychological union of love. In the normal human relationship of marriage, not all of the dopamine is released during an orgasm because it is regulated. However cocaine releases all of it in one massive explosion.
This massive release of dopamine can never be achieved for a second time because all the body’s stores of dopamine have been depleted and the person will never have the same rush ever again. When the person takes it for the second time the rush he was expecting doesn’t happen. So he thinks it was a bad dealer who cut it and he goes from one dealer to the next and from one hit, to the next hit to the next hit and then he goes onto other drugs like crack but he is never able to experience the rush that he got the first time. That is why people who take cocaine are tormented; they are continually searching for that massive rush that they will never have again. This is because in our creation God put checks and balances on our immorality in our body chemistry. The body manufactures all the other chemicals in the brain fairly quickly, except for dopamine. When dopamine is released completely in the body by cocaine, it takes two years for the body to restore the dopamine back to the normal levels providing that it is not released again in those two years. That is why flirting with the devil, even if it is just once, is a dangerous game.
5. THE VICIOUS CYCLE REPEATS ITSELF
After the dopamine rush wears off, the person often becomes filled with guilt, self-condemnation or self-hatred because of the alcohol/food binge they have just been on. In terms of weight gain, the more the person eats, the more person puts on weight. The more they put on weight, the more it assassinates the person’s self-esteem… and what does the hypothalamus do in response to these thoughts? Lower the serotonin levels! So this takes you right back to the beginning and the cycle repeats itself as the person goes into deeper and deeper levels of bondage. The enemy surely knows how to keep us in captivity!
There are other things we can become addicted to besides alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and food –such as gambling and even work. There are people who are driven to succeed because they are loved based on performance and their identity and sense of self-worth is based in their achievements. They are workaholics and this is an addiction just like the other addictions.
People who take the credit card and spend thousands of dollars on a spending binge are exhibiting the same behaviour as those who are binging on food. They are trying to increase the serotonin deficiency artificially and not only that; dopamine is also being secreted, which is the pleasure hormone because they need a rush to fill the void. In these addictions nothing is brought to the mouth but there is still the release of dopamine and the rest of the cycle is the same as I explained for the other addictions.
6. THE BONDAGE IS RE-INFORCED THROUGH PHYSICAL CHANGES IN THE BRAIN
Alcohol affects many cellular components in the brain, including an alteration in certain chemicals called neurotransmitters and receptors in the Basal Ganglia (These chemical neurotransmitters attach to receptors to stimulate a reaction. The Basal ganglia is a part of your brain just above your spinal cord). Besides stimulating the increase in the levels of the neurotransmitter, dopamine (which is the pleasure chemical in the human body that stimulates the reward system in the brain), alcoholics also have a new neurotransmitter that is formed in their brain called THIQ (tetrahydro-isoquinoline). This is formed by the reaction of alcohol with various other chemicals. There are also new receptors that develop in an alcoholic’s brain. When the neurotransmitter THIQ stimulates these receptors it produces a permanent craving for alcohol. That is why associations like Alcoholics Anonymous say “Once an alcoholic, Always an alcoholic.” A person who was previously an alcoholic cannot ever have a drop of alcohol again even
if they have not had a single alcoholic drink for 10 or 30 years. Even the small amount of alcohol in throat lozenges or in certain medicines such as cough syrup, can stimulate and reactivate the THIQ neurotransmitters and receptors, sending the person on an alcohol binge and back into the bondage of alcoholism. During my medical training I spent time in a psychiatric hospital with alcoholics and attended AA meetings with them. One “recovering alcoholic” who had been sober for 30 years told me that he still has to make the choice every single day not to have a drink. That is not real freedom.