Compulsive behaviors such as gambling, hoarding, pornography, shopping, overeating, the internet and social media obsession are emerging as behavioral addictions — people can depend on them as severely as alcohol or drugs. Some activities are so normal that it’s hard to believe people can become addicted to them.
Yet, the cycle of addiction can still take over, making everyday life a constant struggle that can lead to the same destructive behavioral patterns that wreak havoc on lives, families’ and relationships. Whatever the coping mechanism, it’s the byproduct of deeper seeded issues requiring attention, self-evaluation, and healing. There is some void or need being met through the compulsive behavior outside God’s design rooted in the flesh apart from the Spirit.
Whether substance or behavioral, addictions can appear to be bad, meaning they are not socially acceptable and can be very harmful – like immorality, gambling, excessive spending, compulsive eating; Or they can look very good and are socially acceptable but may be just as harmful- like perfectionism, work holism, caregiving, serving in ministry out of the wrong heart, staying busy, overly giving, etc. When people give and serve out of the wrong motive, they can overextend themselves and wear themselves out becoming bitter angry and resentful at those they serve and those in leadership.
On either side of the coin – the addiction or compulsive behavior comes down to this – I have to have this! I have to do this! There is an obsession – a compulsion at a root level that fills a need and their identity is very much on what they do. It is the most important thing in their lives. It defines them and rules them. It is bondage. But God can break the chains of bondage and heal all.
“He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed.”