The Pain of Addiction

By Laura Waters - 30 August 2021

As Gabor Mate a leading physician and author in the field of trauma and addition says “don’t ask why the addiction, ask why the pain”.

There are many ways our society views addiction – a disease, a failure of will, an identity, the result of bad choices or bad influences or genetics – but in almost every case, addiction is simply a symptom of a much bigger issue: pain.

Addictions are developed as a dysfunctional way of dealing with deep, spiritual and emotional pain, often as the result of past trauma or abuse. When the pain is too much, addiction provides a mask, an escape, or a distraction, but ultimately ends up causing even further devastation and resulting in destroyed relationships, worsened physical and mental health, poverty, isolation, guilt and shame, and much more. In this way, it is an ever-worsening cycle of pain, which many find it impossible to escape from. Much like sin, addictive behaviours give false promises of life and freedom from pain, but deliver only death and destruction (Genesis 3).

“The truth shall set you free.”

Often, this ongoing pain is the result of believing lies. These lies come from things you have been told, trauma or life experiences that effect how you see yourself, God, and the world around you.  

The question is not ‘is there a cure for addiction?’ No there is no known cure. The question is ‘can people heal from the pain behind addiction and become free?’ Yes indeed they can.

Christchurch run a Recovery Support Project called Hailsham KEYS. This is a Christ Centred Recovery Support service that helps people to escape alcohol and drug addiction through integrated medical, spiritual and community support. Helping people to safely detox from an addiction is a first step to recovery, then the real journey begins. Pointing people towards Jesus to discover the truth in their identity as chosen and beloved children of God, connecting with a loving community and sharing the love, belonging and acceptance that we have found in Jesus with them and helping people to begin to invite God into their places of pain can begin to bring about the kind of healing that addresses not only the root of the addiction but is transformational process of finding freedom, healing, forgiveness and salvation.  Replacing lies that are believed about God, ourselves and others with the truth can certainly bring people into freedom.

It’s a journey and it’s not without its own pain. We can liken the journey to the Exodus story where the slaves are in Egypt trapped by the belief that getting to the promised land is impossible, crossing many seemingly impossible hurdles along the way, facing giants and being called to trust God for each day. Whilst the journey did seem impossible, they did make it to the promised land. The truth of God’s promise did bring them through. This truth does not change. God’s promises for those enslaved in addiction are as true and as powerful today as they were then.  We see time and time again God’s truth literally setting people free and what a joy that is to witness.