Addiction and Change – Part 4

This is the final installment of a series on Addiction and Change. Parts 1-3 are linked here. Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Biblical Change

Biblical change begins with regeneration and continues through sanctification. Regeneration is the spiritual transformation which occurs when a person places his or her faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ as it is presented in the Bible (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). This transformation affects the heart or desires of the person. Interestingly, the Scriptures teach that regeneration results in a person becoming a “new man” (Ephesians 4:24). This regenerated, new man identity seems strikingly familiar to the new identity discussed by Dingle, et al., (2015). Regenerative change is espoused by and striven for by nouthetic counselors (Adams, 1970; Frederick, 2014; Shaw, 2011; Welch, 2003).

Though Adams (1970) argues for the potential of immediate and complete change, there is recognition that change is a process (Welch, 2003). Frederick (2014) notes practices or tactics by which Christians expect to effect spiritual transformation including prayer and spiritual bibliotherapy. The theological term for this spiritual transformation is sanctification. The term sanctification has, at its roots, the idea of separation or being set apart. Once again, we see a biblical term paralleling the separation espoused by Dingle, et al., (2015) in regards to successful change in substance use behavior. Clinically and biblically the admonition is to separate from social groups characterized by substance use and live successfully in a new identity.


Some time ago, over the course of  ten weeks I had the opportunity to participate in an abstinence project which served to provide an example of some of the struggles an addicted person may face. My project consisted of my abstinence from both the substance of caffeine and the process of drinking coffee. I found the process side of my coffee drinking much more difficult to handle than the caffeine withdrawal which only affected me for a few days. Through the course of the project I was challenged regularly with the tension of the harm reduction model of addiction recovery and that of a more nouthetic and abstinence model. My training in counseling as well as my many years of pastoral ministry have been greatly influenced by the biblical and nouthetic approaches to addiction and recovery and I often make recommendations for treatment within that model.

My personal experience related to my own addiction still has a greater impact upon my view of addiction that that of the abstinence project or the texts I read. For a period of several years I was addicted to alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes and gambling. During that time, I tried many times to reduce my habitual behaviors and for the most part, failed. It was not until I committed my life to God’s control and leading that I saw any change in my behavior. My change was not immediate. It happened to a large degree over the period of about a year but it has been lasting (effective) and continuous change. My abstinence has been possible only through the aid of God and His Word as applied by the Holy Spirit in partnership with the accountability and encouragement of loving friends and family.

At Seven Branches Counseling, it is our desire to assist you in overcoming addiction in a holistic manner by addressing the entire spiritual, bio-psychosocial self. Contact us today to begin your process of change and freedom from addiction.

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