The Way to True Healing of Addictions


Many of us have our miracle stories where we either believe an angel appeared in our lives (who happened to look just like another human being) just at a dire moment when we were in distress, or we have heard of someone else who believe they have encountered an angel. I can't say whether these encounters are sometimes our personal guardian angel or an angel sent by God in answer to prayer. Although I have no doubt angels appear more than we realize because they appear to us looking like ordinary people, bring their message or assist and then simply disappear into the crowd having completed their mission.

Hebrews 13:2 gives us the Biblical counsel that our behavior towards strangers might be directed at angels. References are made in scripture to actual instances where people were visited by angels, possibly even unaware at first to whom they were speaking (Gen. 18:1-3; Gen.19:1-3). In Hebrews we are also reminded that these mighty angels of God worship Him day and night and are all ministering spirits, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation" (Hebrews 1:14)? It is mankind who might "inherit salvation". So angels will appear to intercede on our behalf to help us in dire times of need. The person today who sees an angel, even if they do not at first realize who they are, is often left with a feeling of peace and assurance of God’s presence confirming within that it really was an angel visitation.

In part I, some of the facts, science, and studies connected with addictions was presented but very little about God and His intercession and healing to the addicted. I believe that angels often bring us help, unbeknownst to our outer minds but they are not the healers in our life—Jesus is. Having read countless stories on miracles and God answering people's prayers for healing for others or themselves, I have not read any convincing testimonies of an angel as the healer.

God Answers Prayers
I often pray to God for help with little things, like forgetting where I put something or to help me find something that was lost. I don't know if the answer is direct from God or through an angel or my guardian angel. Sometimes, after looking for a long time when my wits are getting me nowhere, I remember to pray! Invariably, I quickly find what I am looking for or the thought enters my mind of where I put something. It is no coincidence that I can find something within minutes after praying when I had already looked conceivably everywhere. That is an answer to prayer.

I wrote about some of these experiences previously where in one case I went to put on one of my favorite rings and it wasn't where it should have been. I looked everywhere and then I started praying. I can't say I had the thought as to where to look, but I found myself getting up and going into my closet and looking in my shoes—and there it was in a shoe! There have been countless almost instantaneous answers to those seemingly unimportant problems I encounter in daily living. Yet, the big problems are rarely answered instantaneously. For those problems, I believe we have a need for healing.

Unfortunately, for those who do not have daily prayer in their lives or have a pattern of weekly attendance in a church, prayer may not come to their aid quickly because they have not developed a good habit or they do not believe they are worthy of God's intercession and do not ask for help and healing. The chances of an addict calling to God for help with their addictive patterns is unlikely to be at the forefront of their minds. One reason is that they want the habit or substance and that hold has a greater pull on them and their will. Often the habit that has turned into addiction is there because of some trauma in their lives that the addiction covers over and lets them forget that inner pain. Another big reason is that they do not feel worthy or loved by God.

Sometimes we don't have to be the ones praying to receive healing; it is our loved ones who pray for us. The following story is just such a case. As Christians, we need to understand that just because someone is an addict and can't pray for themselves it does not mean that they cannot receive healing. Two verses in scripture make it quite clear it is one of our responsibilities as Christians. "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16); "And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:15).

Growing up with an alcoholic father brought much pain to Connie. Her father had picked up the habit while serving in World War II. It caused so many problems for the family that her parents finally divorced. When she was twelve she asked her mother if she could go to her grandmother's church that evening. Her grandmother was catching a cold so she ended up going alone. Not knowing anyone there she sat by herself. In the end, she started to pray for her father, "Oh Lord, don’t let him go to hell! Please save his soul so that he will be with all of us!”

Suddenly, through her tears, she noticed that she was surrounded by twelve adults. One woman asked her through a concerned look, “What can we pray for you?” She replied through sobs that her daddy needed to be saved. “Please pray that he stop drinking beer.” At first, she was a bit embarrassed but then this peace descended upon her and it was time to go as her mother had arrived to take her home.

The next morning she awoke to her father in her bedroom. The front door was unlocked and he entered, going straight to her room excited to share the news. The last time they had been together he had gotten drunk and she and her sister quickly found a way home. He came to apologize but also to share that the previous evening Jesus had come to him and took him to hell to show him where he would be going if he did not repent. Her father knelt before Jesus and received Him as his Lord and Savior. He was free of the need for alcohol and eventually her parents started dating again and then remarried.

We don't know why some prayers for healing are almost instantaneously answered and some appear to be not answered for years. Maybe in the above story the father was already repenting in his heart at some level because he saw the hurt he was causing his children and the breakup of his marriage.

Before I share this next story I want to share a personal revelation God walked me through that involved another character flaw (maybe based on ignorance) that I needing healing of. When I was young we revisited New York (Long Island) for my aunt's wedding and where I was born. Where we lived in Florida we did not see any homeless but in New York City (also throughout all of the five boroughs) there were many on every sidewalk. I did not know what to think of these people but they affected me greatly to see them begging for food and money.

Many years later I went alone on another trip to New York City. Being more mature and now realizing the homeless had many addictions that contributed to their homelessness I was loath to give them anything because I believed they would just use it to buy their cigarettes and alcohol. The thought also came to me that they didn't need to be homeless, they could change their lives. I felt homelessness was a choice and a decision they could change by choosing to stop making bad choices but for some reason, they would not. I believed that having a strong will was something God gave you and God would give you the help if you just asked.

To some degree, it is a choice but it is more complicated as to why people choose what they do. I did not understand then that addictions were tied together with serious past life abuses. Those who work with addicts know that the majority come from very troubled backgrounds where they were abused as children or suffered the loss of one or more parents. Then there are those who began their addiction by using prescription painkillers, as the following story reveals and Dr. House portrayed in the House television series.

I was judging the homeless based on a narrow understanding of their affliction. It was not but a few years later that I found myself homeless! I shared in a previous article that in my first marriage I came home one night from my evening waitress job when I received this intuitive flash to look in my husband's briefcase. I had never done anything like that before—not having the habit or desire to snoop into other's personal belongings. I just followed through the steps without giving it any thought. My husband was asleep but the briefcase was in open sight which I found locked. I had no idea where the key would be but I quickly found it. Upon opening the briefcase, there on top of everything was a petition for divorce he had filed asking for full custody of our four children based on my religious beliefs or involvement with a "cult". After I woke my husband what followed was the carrying out that evening of a preplanned kidnapping of our four children by his parents.

I found them after a search all night and illegally entered the house they took them to and got my youngest, who was nine months old at the time. My husband and I had reconciled a few months earlier after almost a year of separation and I had no money saved or a place to live. I went to my parents but they gave me and the baby the flea invested floor to sleep on and I knew I couldn't stay. Then it hit me—I was HOMELESS! God was showing me my condemnation and judgment of the homeless was ungodly. Lesson learned! I had a good relationship with God, a strong will, and prayed every day, and I still found myself homeless. Still, under that return of my judgment sent out to those homeless God blessed me, not only with alerting me to the divorce filing and helping me find the children in a large city where I had no idea where they would take the children but I was also helped to find a place to live even though I had no money. I first called a hotline to receive help for the homeless and found that there was a waiting list of six months. I then started looking for apartments and lo and behold I found a place in an apartment building with the first month's rent free and a six-month lease instead of a year's. I took it.

The oft-repeated proverb, "Don't judge (or criticize) a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes" means we should have empathy for another instead of criticizing them and judging them for their choices or mistakes. The last time I gave to the homeless was food. I still do not like to give them money knowing where it will probably go but we can still contribute to organizations like in this story from NightShift Street Ministries or give our time in volunteer work with charitable organizations or in our churches to cook and serve food for the needy if they have those kinds of programs.

Jesus said the poor will always be with you. (Matt. 26:11) He wasn't advocating that we do nothing, rather He was referring to the Old Testament well-known verse in Deuteronomy 15:7-11. "you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be … For the poor you will always have with you in the land."

Psychological Causes Behind Addiction
It is shocking to read that at least two-thirds of all addicts have previously experienced some type of physical or sexual traumatic experiences during childhood. Researchers have been studying the connection between trauma and addiction in order to understand why so many drug and alcohol abusers have this past history. In surveys of adolescents receiving treatment for substance abuse, more than 70% of patients had a history of trauma exposure. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that more than a third of adolescents with a report of abuse or neglect will have a substance use disorder before they reach their 18th birthday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Kaiser insurance did a study called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), the largest investigation of childhood abuse and neglect and household challenges. The original ACE Study was conducted at Kaiser Permanente from 1995 to 1997. Over 17,000 members received physical exams and completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors. The study revealed that a child who experiences four or more traumatic events is five times more likely to become an alcoholic, 60% more likely to become obese, and up to 46 times more likely to become an injection-drug user than the general population. Also, studies by the Veterans Administration have led to estimates that between 35-75% of veterans with Post-traumatic stress disorder  (PTSD) abuse drugs and alcohol.

Many of us associate childhood trauma with child abuse, incest, or sexual assault, but there are many other traumas a child can experience such as the loss of a parent, witnessing domestic or other physical violence, having a family member who suffers from a mental illness, natural disasters, or battling a life-threatening condition. The harmful effects of prolonged and repeated experiences of abuse, abandonment, molestation, and chronic neglect run deep. What makes these experiences traumatic is the lack of an advocate to count on for help or comfort or that the relationships surrounding the event failed to provide any protection.

Levels of resiliency vary from person to person, so reactions to traumatic events are similarly varied, especially if the trauma is repeated or ongoing, such as with many childhood traumas or military combat. While frightening experiences can adversely affect people at any age, adults will generally be more likely to manage through their traumas much more resiliently than children.

Trauma victims feel isolated and vulnerable. Besides turning to addictive habits a person with unresolved childhood trauma may develop mental or physical issues such as schizophrenia, autoimmune disease or cancer. As an emerging adult, they can be extremely vulnerable to peer pressure and turning to substance abuse to assuage their emotional pain. They may try overly hard to fit in and consequently may make poor choices in an attempt to be accepted. The “aloneness” experience can last a lifetime if there is no intervention through counseling or spiritual support groups.

Often after years of self-medicating through such things as drugs, alcohol, or food, the addict will have effectively dulled the memory of their trauma, so the only problem seems to be their addiction. This subconscious repression of traumatic memories may be noticeable by others when the person tries to break free of one addictive habit only to jump right into a new habit leading to another addictive behavior because the underlying cause, and one of its arms the inability to resist temptation, are still there.

Addiction Specialists Perspectives
Author Dr. Gabor Maté, a well-known addiction specialist, spent 12 years working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. From his experience he believes, "All addictions — alcohol or drugs, sex addiction or internet addiction, gambling or shopping — are attempts to regulate our internal emotional states because we’re not comfortable, and the discomfort originates in childhood. In 12 years, I worked with hundreds of female patients, and everyone had been sexually abused as a child."

One analysis of 57,000 women in 2013 found that those who experienced physical or sexual abuse as children were twice as likely to be addicted to food than those who had no previous sexual abuse history. In one of the reports in Biological Psychiatry's journal they stated that "Trauma that occurs during critical periods in the brain’s development can change its neurobiology, making it less responsive to rewards." The deficit of being able to feel positive emotions is called anhedonia. Experiencing this deficit more than doubles the likelihood that the abused child will become clinically depressed as they enter adulthood. It also increases their risk of addiction. With their brains unable to produce a natural high, many adult victims of child abuse chase happiness in food or other abuse substances. For women with a history of past sexual abuse, usually unbeknownst to other's as they feel shame and consequently bury the pain and keep it hidden from family members and most everyone else, makes this group especially vulnerable to obesity. One reason for this tendency is a desire to become less noticeable by men and the fear of being admired and the frequent follow-up of unwanted sexual advances.

Marijane Hynes, an internist at the George Washington University Medical School in Washington D.C. directs their Weight Management Program primarily focusing on obesity and food addiction. She said, “With people who are abused, you have to uncover their awful wounds before they get better,” and thereby help them keep the weight off they work so hard to lose.

It makes perfect sense that an individual who is flooded with shame, dread, fear, and anxiety needs a source of comfort, from whatever trauma they have been through. That comfort can be temporarily found not only from food but drinking alcohol, unhealthy sexual behavior, gambling, drug abuse, and even compulsive shopping. The traumatized person can feel an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment; their sense of emptiness is overwhelming and constant. They can find easy relief from substances or behaviors that invariably leave them even more vulnerable.

Sally Satel, M.D., a practicing psychiatrist, author, and lecturer at the Yale University School of Medicine, disagrees with the policy that drug addiction is a brain disease. She believes that the language "brain disease" carries the connotation that the afflicted person is helpless before his own brain chemistry. It also overlooks the enormously important truth that addicts use drugs to help them cope in some manner.

Dr. Satel believes the standard view today of addicts also overlooks the enormously important truth that they use addictive substances to help them cope in some manner. And that, as destructive as they are, taking drugs may also serve a purpose. This recognition is very important for designing personalized therapies. People who come to treatment tend to have a concurrent psychiatric illness, and they also tend to be less responsive to treatment. "It just so happens, she said, that most research is done on people already in treatment programs, thereby we have a skewed population and "clinical illusion," which applies to all medical conditions." This illusion refers to a tendency to think that the patients within a clinical setting fully represent all people with that condition. It does not.

Dr. Satel points out four reasons it is not a brain disease:

  • Drug addicts have free will and can stop their addiction on their own and many do. An example is the Vietnam veterans who were addicted to opium (freely available in Vietnam) to assuage their emotional pain in the combative environment. They were not allowed to return to the U.S. until they were free of all opium use. Only 12% returned to opium use three years after they returned to the U.S. and all of those 12% were found to be addicts prior to enlisting.
  • Many make the decision to come to Dr. Satel's clinic because they were going to break up their family or lose their jobs. They respond to the "carrot and stick" motivation of reward or negative consequence. With a disease such as Alzheimer's no matter how much they are told if they don't stop the progression of their disease or they will lose their job - they cannot change the course of the disease.
  • Society responds negatively to those with addictions regardless of the label they have that it is a brain disease. Rather than see them with compassion the public responds with aversion fearing violence connected with a substance abuse addict and they do not necessarily have more optimism with the efficacy of the treatment for the "diseased" addicts. The label is supposed to combat stigma but doesn't.
  • Brain disease addiction doesn't discriminate.

There are several advantages in having the "disease" label for substance abuse addicts according to Dr. Satel. 1) There is more money available for treatment. 2) Treating addictions like they have a brain disease encourages change in the laws that have enforced imprisonment on addicts for their illegal usage and theft. 3) Although the change is slow by allowing alternative sentencing of attending drug rehabilitation it has shown to be very effective in reducing crime, saving taxpayers dollars, and helps in rehabilitation.

However, Dr. Satel says if we must call it a disease realize what kind of disease it is. "Drug addiction is certainly a disease, the way psychiatry would regard a disorder, which is a problematic dysfunction in mood, thought, and behavior." She advocates not looking at the either-or view of addictions, that addiction is either a disease or a sin but to "occupy the vast middle ground".

Those who do not accept the ASAM definition of addiction as a brain disease are not saying that addictions don't change the brain or that the change in the brain by the person's habit isn't serious and difficult to overcome. What they are saying is that the changes in the neural pathways is the normal response in all behaviors. It is called neuroplasticity. MedicineNet describes Neuroplasticity as  "The brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment."

Dr. Marc Lewis, a neuroscientist and author of Memoirs of an Addicted Brain and The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not A Disease said:

 "I’m not saying that addiction is not a serious problem – clearly it can be for many people. In terms of brain change, you could say that neuroplasticity has a dark side. But rather than a disease, I would say that addiction is a habit that grows and perpetuates itself relatively quickly when we repeatedly pursue the same highly attractive goal. This results in new pathways being built in the brain, which is always the case with learning: new pathways are formed and older pathways are pruned or eradicated.…We know that treatment isn’t required by most to overcome addiction, so in that sense it’s not a disease. And the changes in the brain that occur because of addiction are not irreversible. We’ve been talking about neuroplasticity for decades. That is, the brain keeps on changing – due to changes in experience, self-motivated changes in behavior, as a result of practice, and being in a different environment."

Lewis also outlined his reasons why he believes addictions are now called a brain disease:

  • The disease model remains dominant in the U.S. because of its stakeholders. First, the rehab industry, worth an estimated $35 billion per year, uses the disease nomenclature in a vast majority of its ads and slogans. Despite consistently low success rates, that's not likely to stop because it pulls in the cash.
  • Second, as long as addiction is labeled a disease, medical insurance providers can be required to pay for it. This saves governments the true costs of dealing with addiction through education, social support, employment initiatives, and anti-poverty mechanisms.
  • Third, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that funds roughly 90 percent of addiction research worldwide, is a medically oriented funder and policy setter, as is the American Society of Addiction Medicine and other similar bodies. For these organizations to confess that addiction isn't really a disease would be tantamount to admitting that they're in no position to tackle it, which would be a form of institutional suicide.
  • And finally, there are the families of addicts, many of whom welcome the idea that addiction is a disease because that implies that their loved ones are not bad people after all.

If Addiction Is Not a Brain Disease What Is It?
Addiction journalist Maia Szalavitz is widely viewed as one of the top American journalists covering addiction and drugs and was a former cocaine and heroin addict herself. She believes addiction is neither chronic nor a progressive disease. In her book, Unbroken Brain, she explains why she regards addiction as a learning disorder rather than a brain disease. Szalavitz describes addiction as “a coping style that becomes maladaptive.”  She says that as a developmental learning disorder it can be overcome, outgrown, and successfully treated with scientific methods.

For young adults, the good news is that Maia, and others, have discovered that healing can occur for many young adults without any intervention. In the past, Szalavitz said, "we have been using punishment, shaming, and disrespectful types of treatment." As she explains in her book, what is not widely realized is that the majority of people with addictions outgrow them without any self-help, treatment, etc. By the age of 25, they have developed an understanding of the negative consequences of substance abuse. Then they completely stop before they are 30 because their brain has developed through their learning experiences focusing more on mature themes such as raising a family and entering the field of work of their interests.

Gene Heyman a professor of Psychology and author of Addiction: A Disorder of Choice, also found in his research studies and surveys the same conclusion as Maia. He found that between 60 to 80 percent of people who were addicted in their teens and 20s were substance-free by their 30s, and they continued to avoid their past addictions in subsequent decades.

Heyman also references in his book the studies done showing this remarkable yet rarely remarked fact about addiction. Only a very small portion of drug users are drug addicts. About 15 percent of people who drink develop alcoholism; about 10 percent of those who experiment with drugs become drug addicts. And remarkably Heyman points out that studies have shown that despite the current dogma that addiction is a chronic incurable disease of the brain — "once an addict always an addict" — the current data available clearly demonstrates that more than 75 percent of hardcore drug addicts will eventually cease to take drugs and that they will do so without having received treatment. He is not saying that there aren't adverse chemical changes in the brain during addictions but that addicts make choices and can change those choices.

Heyman is also not stating that addicts are weak-willed or that they make stupid choices. He is not blaming addicts. He comes to the conclusion that the hallmark of addiction is the fact that in addiction the normal interplay between choice, value, and preference breaks down. From the observations of others, and facts stated above childhood traumas and certain societal and family dynamics play a large part in the willingness to choose to engage in bad habits later in life that may form addictions.

Thus, according to Heyman, if society is to understand addiction and find a way to help addicts, we must view addictions precisely in this setting where wants, values, preferences, and choices are in play. Addiction is in this sense  a disorder of choice.

Dr. Lewis teaches that with addiction, much of these choices begins with wanting. He said this rewiring of the brain is accelerated by the action of dopamine, released in response to highly compelling goals, creating an ever-tightening feedback loop of wanting, getting, and loss. Then, as the addiction grows, billions of new connections form in the brain. This network of connections supports a pattern of thinking and feeling, a strengthening belief, that taking this drug, ‘this thing,’ is going to make you feel better – despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.

It’s motivated repetition that gives rise to what he calls “deep learning.” Addictive patterns grow more quickly and become more deeply entrenched than other, less rewarding habits. In general, brain changes naturally settle into brain habits as is the case in all forms of learning. The difference is that certain habits are learned more deeply, locked in more tightly, and are bolstered by the weakening of other, incompatible habits, like playing with your pet or caring for your kids. [In the book, Lewis describes in detail how addiction changes the brain.]

There are alterations in the midbrain dopamine system and in the front cortex involved in impulse inhibition but this involvement is also seen in those who 'fall in love'. Love does have some similarities with addiction. As discussed by Maia Szalavitz in Unbroken Brain, it is in the grip of love—whether romantic love or love for a child—that people may forego other healthy aims, endure hardships, break the law, or otherwise go to the ends of the earth to be with and protect the object of their affection—but they don't have a disease.

Christ Healing
As noted above a majority of substance abuse victims free themselves of addictions on their own. What the studies don't provide are the statistics on how many of those who became free from the addictive hold did so through their personal relationship with God.

What is not answered in Heyman's book is what determines who breaks free from the trap of addiction and who fails to do so? What we don't have from those figures is how many of those addicts had a religious conversion or were freed by the prayers of others, or even their own prayers, especially if they had a spouse and family and had the strong desire to keep their family together.

While not viewing addictions as a brain disease or sin is good for medical doctors and the scientific community, Christians have a different responsibility, and that is their relationship to Christ and the Word of God through both the Old and New Testaments. Is sin involved in addictions? Yes. Even if the addictive substance alters the brain chemistry adversely leading to an inability for the brain to help an addict make moral and sound choices, there is the first, second, and third time of making the choice and then the ongoing choices to continue the habit until that brain change becomes the norm for them.

Any addiction, whether to alcohol, drugs, prescription medicines, pornography, gambling, cigarettes, or even food, is a form of idolatry. The first commandment is, “You shall not have any other gods before Me.” The second commandment is, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them” (see Exodus 20). When a person is addicted, they are really bowing down and serving that addiction as their god. It is the sin of idolatry. They become a slave to it and they are held in bondage. Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34).

A wise pastor said about idolatry and its connection to addictions:

The greater power that breaks the power of darkness, the power of idols, the power of addiction — is the power of life, the power of persons, the power of community, all of which ultimately comes from the power of God in Christ. The answer to impersonalism is people, real, living people. The answer to isolation is community. The answer to idols is the living Triune God who sees and hears and speaks and never leaves us or forsakes us. But people all by themselves will keep letting you down because we all have an idol problem; all people have addiction problems. This is why the answer cannot merely be other people, or different people, new people — it must be a person, the only good and perfect person. It must be Jesus. (Pastor Toby Sumpter)

Due to feelings of shame and lack of self-worth and all the other negative effects of trauma on the body, mind, and soul, it appears true that those who propose that these traumas are the underlying problem behind a large percent of the addicts have a lot of data to support this premise. Those who experience the trauma and have had no support to heal it and thus chose to turn to other means to cover over the pain, need the Great Healer of souls, our Lord and Savior. Yes, we need to pray for them and their healing but also for their becoming a new person in Christ.

What does it mean to be "a new person"? The Bible tells us “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The person is born again (Titus 3:5). Those who are "in Christ" are those who have faith in Him, credited with Christ's righteous life, and their sin forgiven by Christ's death in their place. Such people are new creatures and are no longer worldly; they are now spiritual. The old sin nature was nailed to the cross with Christ, buried with Him and as He was raised up by the Father, so are the reborn sinners. They have become something they were not before. They are raised up to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4) and their identities have changed from being the fallen version of themselves to be connected with the righteousness of Christ.

Being a new creature in Christ does not mean that we suddenly become perfect ever after or incapable of sin, but it does imply that we have a new nature and have God's power given to us by our belief in Christ and that He paid the price for our sins.

This rebirth does not have to happen in some kind of official setting. It can happen in an instant when an individual makes the choice from the heart and in total surrender. The newborn soul delights in the things of God and abhors the things of the world and the flesh. And this could be the case for many who have had instantaneous healings from addictions. They simply cannot abide in their previous sins or have any need for it anymore. They are a new person. I cannot overstate the incredible power of this rebirth and healing. Not only are the addictive habits gone but the person is healed of the attachment or needing to hold on to past traumas.

The following is a testimony from a woman who was instantly healed of a drug addiction after praying to God.

I was married to an alcoholic for 13 years and didn’t understand why he couldn’t quit when it was causing so many problems (financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, etc.). We started going to church regularly for about 2 years and then all of a sudden he had an excuse every weekend of why he couldn’t go. It ultimately led to our divorce in 2003. About 4 years later I got hooked on meth and after many attempts to quit I thought I finally understood why he couldn’t just quit. I wasn’t able to quit by myself after many, many attempts either. It wasn’t until 2017 that I asked God to help me in the name of Jesus and when I say instantly, I mean I was instantly healed! 

Another testimony from someone who was using abusing painkillers.

I spent the last 10 years on and off heavily abusing opiates stemming from neck and shoulder pain, so yes, in a sense, I had a legitimate reason to use them as needed, but I found out through my own difficult journey that it was my anger and mentality that kept me from overusing and abusing them the way I was. You can use whatever word you want, cure, etc, but my process of journaling and letting God lead my direction freed my mind of that addiction and destructive mentality! ...God healed my mind and soul, and there is scientific evidence that proves that your mind can physically change and alter from negative and destructive patterns... I was truly on a horrible and destructive path, the disease is in the heart, mind, and soul and not the brain! Anyone that wants to argue with me on this is probably gonna get a side they were not expecting because I can be around these things without issue, even use them if I really absolutely need to, which is not the normal secular or world view on this... God can free your mind from it, I am living proof of this and am on the path to help others with it, which has completely changed my life and views on a lot of things even in the Christian community. Follow that still small voice and He will lead you there because He is bigger than all things!

The loss of self-control is part and parcel of an addict's life. Regaining control can be done with God's help when all attempts to "do it myself" have not worked. Self-control is what God gave us to help us make righteous and wise decisions. "God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:6-7). The following person had no control when it came to smoking.

My attempts to stop smoking for good were all just temporary lulls in a habit acquired before I was 16. Even after being hammered by congestive heart failure in a big way, my smoking never slowed down. I once made it five days with only one or two smokes a day. That fifth day, as I sat on the patio, sucking smoke into my tired lungs, I felt my heart rev up like a Formula One racer – the problem being that this car’s motor was on its last legs. I had to stop smoking or die. That simple. Did I stop? No. I could not do it.
      God called me to follow his Son a short while before this time, and I was still an infant Christian, too timid to ask for help in things spiritual. One day, I got down on my knees and confessed to my new-found God that I was weak, helpless and just plain stupid. I needed to quit smoking and couldn’t. Would my new friend Jesus, please help me? Please? I just can’t do it, I said, please help me or I will die . . . The very thought made me sit there and cry.
      Hey, I’d like to tell you about the big, fiery miracle that Jesus whammied onto my head, and the lightning and the voice from heaven that knocked me down and made me shake, but it just ain’t so. It was far more impressive than that could ever be. I simply never wanted another cigarette. Ever. Not once. To this day – and it’s been over a year.
      Not that I fought temptation and never smoked another one, you understand. Remember, I tried that and failed miserably. I have never WANTED to smoke another cigarette. If you have ever smoked, you have some idea of the mercy and the true love behind this miracle. There was no kinder or more impressive thing that my Lord Jesus, my new best friend and owner of my heart, could have done for me.

The 12-Steps Program
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded by Bill Wilson (aka Bill W) and Robert Smith (aka Dr. Bob) in the 1930's. The AA program of recovery is set forth in twelve steps that later became replicated for other types of addictions. Wilson was introduced to the Christian Oxford Group that he later joined leaving only when he and Smith founded their own self-supporting group. The following is Wilson's story on the road to recovery.

In November 1934, Wilson was visited by old drinking companion Ebby Thacher. Wilson was astounded to find that Thacher had been sober for several weeks under the guidance of the evangelical  Christian Oxford Group.

Wilson took some interest in the group, but shortly after Thacher's visit, he was again admitted to Towns Hospital to recover from a bout of drinking. This was his fourth and last stay at Towns hospital under Doctor Silkworth's care and he showed signs of delirium tremens.

It was while undergoing treatment with The Belladonna Cure that Wilson experienced his "Hot Flash" spiritual conversion and quit drinking.

Earlier that evening, Thacher had visited and tried to persuade Wilson to turn himself over to the care of a Christian deity who would liberate him from alcohol.

According to Wilson, while lying in bed depressed and despairing, he cried out, "I'll do anything! Anything at all! If there be a God, let Him show Himself!

He then had the sensation of a bright light, a feeling of ecstasy, and a new serenity. He never drank again for the remainder of his life. Wilson described his experience to Dr. Silkworth, who told him, "Something has happened to you I don't understand. But you had better hang on to it."

The 12-steps program came four years after Wilson met co-founder Smith. Smith was an alcoholic trying to recover and Wilson was led to find him after a failed business trip. He was seeking out a recovering alcoholic to help him through his discouragement and not turn to alcohol to assuage his feelings of failure. After meeting Wilson, Smith also stopped drinking, after previously attending the Oxford Group for two years.

In 1938, Bill began to write what would become the first edition of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. “I set out to draft more than six steps,” he would later write. “How many more, I did not know. I relaxed and asked for guidance. With a speed that was astonishing, considering my jangled emotions, I completed the first draft. It took perhaps half an hour. The words kept right on coming. When I reached a stopping point, I numbered the new steps. They added up to 12.”

  1. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.”
  2. “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
  3. “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”
  4. “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
  5. “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
  6. “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
  7. “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
  8. “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
  9. “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”
  10. “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
  11. “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.”
  12. “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

AA claimed in the "Big Book" that the program has worked for 75 percent of people who have gone to meetings and “really tried.” It says that 50 percent got sober right away, and another 25 percent struggled for a while but eventually recovered. It is unclear today what their success rate is as members are anonymous and there is no central authority keeping records. Some believe the success rate is in the single digits, others that for those who came to meetings for over six months had a success rate of 70% abstinence from alcohol after the two-year mark.

Many today question the efficacy of the 12-steps program, especially Christians and especially the scientific field. Christians claim that the God of the 12-steps program can be any god. God, according to AA, is “a Power greater than ourselves” (Step 2), but “God” is whatever the alcoholic “understands Him to be”. Step 11 can be meditating upon anyone's personal god and not God Yahweh and the Creator. They also find fault that the focus is not on one's sin and Christ as the redeemer.

Science looks to medicine and scientific methods for healing and puts down the 12-steps program starting with step 1, that a person is powerless. Some have even suggested that step one should rather say, "Admit I need help to heal my addiction." Their power is knowledge and the belief in their studies in that this or that drug or method is the way to control one's desire—not complete healing by some "God" of the Bible. They see the goal is to control any unwanted desire, only minimizing it so you can have your one drink a day and not lose control and go to the next step of binging.

According to some Christians, God, as the alcoholic understands him/her, is asked to remove “defects of character” (Step 6) and “shortcomings” (Step 7).  Confession is not of one's sin and the need for a Savior, but rather a recognition of having done harm to the alcoholic himself and to others. It appears this is an unfounded criticism. Since AA is not a religion and is not forcing Christianity upon anyone, they cannot mandate one of the steps as "Accept Christ as your savior." The program appears to go along with the scripture by encouraging members to share their wrongs with God and others (Step 5): “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). 

What about those who are court-mandated in the U.S. to take the 12-steps program in lieu of a jail sentence but are atheists? Slowly, the justice system is coming around that these criminals are being violated in their first-amendment rights as the program is deemed religious.

The reality is that the founders of the Twelve-Steps Program believed in the God of the Bible as the true power to heal. Without this belief, the program may or may not work and there can be a lot of relapses in one's addictions over time, especially for atheists who join the program and those who can't accept the higher power in their lives as God Yahweh and have faith that Christ died for our sins.

Healing With Prayer
True healing comes with God making you a new creation as you receive salvation through faith in Christ. What we have to realize from some of the stories I have shared here, their addictions were completely gone as they put their faith in God and Christ but that is not always the case. Maybe for some that is all that have to do but for others the lifestyle they are in may not have changed and they still must face temptation. God has done His part, but we have to do ours. Titus 2:11-12 tells us: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” We have to learn how to say "no" and actually choose to live godly lives and use self-control.

Televangelist Sid Roth who hosts the talk show Sid Roth's It's Supernatural! has some suggestions for healing additions:

Does God ever heal people of addictions and emotional disorders? God can heal you of addictions and emotional disorders the same way He can heal you of physical problems. It all comes down to understanding the basis of any healing: Jesus.

When Jesus was crucified, He took every single pain, addiction, emotional disorder, physical disorder, disease, sickness – everything – and 1 Peter 2:24 says, “by His stripes you were healed.”

And that covers everything.

The scientific community has recently changed its view on the brain. They agree the brain can change. Neural passageways that are fed a lie can addict you to alcoholism or homosexuality. But you can place the greater truth in your brain by meditation on the Word of God. This forms new passageways that will trump the addiction. God will form this truth in your spirit that will set you free! Step one: Reject and repent of the lie. Step two: Meditate on the truth (God’s Word). Step three: Walk in your freedom.

Stand, with undivided faith, upon God’s healing promises from the Bible. Do this whether you are believing for a healing from a physical problem or an addiction/emotional disorder.

What I did for myself was to go through the Bible and pick out the most powerful healing Scriptures from God. Then, I personalized them so that I could use them in prayer and confess them over my life.

The key thing to remember is this: When you confess God’s Word, you are speaking into existence His own promises from His own Word. This is not a ritual – it is truly believing in your heart the promises you are confessing. Through faith and patience, you will inherit the promises!

Of course, this means one must do their Bible study on their own. The following are some prayers to get started.

To receive God’s forgiveness and the freedom from addiction that accompanies it, you can pray a simple prayer like this one:

Dear God, I confess that I have been addicted to _________. I repent of this addiction and ask you to forgive me and help me to begin again. I confess that I have been in bondage to __________, and I renounce all involvement with it. I also renounce the devil’s lies, and I reset my mind to believe the truth. I ask, by the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit, that You set me free. Thank You for loving me, forgiving me and setting me free. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Confessing on your knees truly humbles you and your prayer becomes more heartfelt.

From the Book of Common Prayer, the following is a prayer we can say for others that we know are struggling.

O blessed Lord, You ministered to all who came to You. Look with compassion upon all who through addiction have lost their health and freedom. Restore to them the assurance of Your unfailing mercy; remove from them the fears that beset them; strengthen them in the work of their recovery; and to those who care for them, give patient understanding and persevering love. Amen.

The following is from the Twelve-Step Program called the "Third Step Prayer".

Third Step Prayer
God, I offer myself to Thee …
to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!

Two other short prayers one can memorize and recite throughout the day.

Dear Lord, thank You for letting me lean on You. Fill my heart with Your healing love and the power of Your strength so that I may live the life You planned for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dear God, help me turn my spirit towards You so that I can find the strength to overcome my problems. Forgive my doubts and fears, and fill me with Your love and strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

More Healing Testimonies With Jesus
The following are two more testimonies of healing victories through the power of Christ. I end with a link to a testimony by David Wilkerson. Many may have heard of him or have read his book, A Cross and a Switchblade. Truly, miracles were happening in his life working with inner-city youths who belonged to gangs in New York City. He was the founder of the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge, and the founding pastor of the non-denominational Times Square Church in New York City.

Wilkerson was human, like all the rest of us, and was not perfect by any means. Yet I highly recommend reading his book as an inspiring story of walking with Christ to help the needy.

 "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people" (Matthew 9:35).

As someone who struggled with drug addiction and tried many times to stop using drugs on my own, I knew that arresting my drug addiction was not something I could do on my own. I needed Jesus. For many years this was a solution that I did not want to face, How after everything I have done and the life that I had lead would Jesus want to help me? I was ashamed, embarrassed and hopeless. I lived my life in fear of what others would think of me, of what my life would become if I accepted Jesus as a solution. Then the day came that the pain got so great that I was willing to accept help from any source available. At this point, God showed up.

The bible says in Luke 17:21, That "the Kingdom of God is within you." Once I learned that the Kingdom of God was within me I no longer felt the need to try to battle my drug addiction on my own. I knew that it was possible for me to have my own story of a miracle just like all the ones that were in the bible. This healing power was not given to me because I was a spiritual person or I did everything right, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I had lied, cheated and stole my way through drug addiction. This power was given to me as a gift. All I had to do was be ready to receive it. This gift was called Gods Grace.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—" (Ephesians 2:8).

I can tell you first hand that I have been healed. I no longer have to use mind or mood-altering substances to get out of bed in the morning or to go to sleep at night. The power of Jesus changed my life, and even though it may sound a little different than all the miracles in the bible we read about I do know for 100% certainty that it is a modern-day miracle. Jesus is alive and well and working in the lives of those struggling on a daily basis.

The following is from one of the youths that joined Teen Challenge, the faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center that Wilkerson started.

Despite being raised by a Christian family that showed me the love of Jesus my whole life, I never accepted it. Instead, I ran from it. By the time I was 16, I was addicted to drugs and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I was losing my ability to speak and reason, and I was confused all of the time. Often I would remember people talking around me, and I would have no idea what they were talking about and I would take offense. When I would try to speak, I could only speak half a sentence. The last year before I got arrested, I struggled with multiple personalities along with anger. I was too destructive. I was far from God.

One day, I had an encounter with the Lord for the first time in my life. I went to my parent's house, despite the rarity of going there. I was there alone, and although I had never had the desire before, something prompted me to turn on worship music. The power of God hit me like a ton of bricks, and I broke down crying. I had believed God was out there, but it wasn’t until this moment that I realized that he loved me and cared about me. I told my parents I would go to rehab. Then I bailed. I didn’t go. Two weeks later I was arrested.

My turning point. I turned to the Lord.
I was facing years in prison and realized that if nothing changed, I would either end up in prison for the rest of my life or end up dead. Sitting in my jail cell, I gave my life to the Lord. Immediately I was delivered from mental illness and drug addiction.

Soon after, I realized I was able to reason. I could process the difference between right and wrong. I was able to hold conversations with people in a matter of weeks. Within a month, I was able to read about a book a day, and I was able to begin the process of finding out more of who Jesus is and read the Bible. All of which I could not do prior to surrendering my life to God. Jesus had healed me, and for the four months I was in jail, I studied His Word, and discovered so much more of who He is.

When I got out of jail, I joined Teen Challenge, which is a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. For a season of life, I was able to tune out the distractions of the world and find my identity in Christ. It was a season of fasting. Fasting from old friends, “worldly” things, and a secular worldview. I only focused on what Jesus is saying. The focal point of my journey was not so much the addiction, but fixating my heart on Jesus.

I do not believe that once you are an addict, you are always an addict. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that in Him we are a “new creation.” The old has passed away, and the new has come.

When you fix your heart on Jesus, things can’t stay the same. He leads you into an entirely new restoration. Allow Jesus to be your fixation. Some things happen immediately. Others take time and renewing your mind. Just focus on what Jesus is saying. Let Jesus be the only thing that matters. Perk your attention on Jesus. Jesus has set my heart on fire for Him.

Closing Thoughts
My closing thoughts are, don't limit what God can do through you, whether one is a past addict or one who wants to help others. I just finished reading The Shift: The True Story Of How One Businesswoman Left Everything Behind And Changed The Lives Of Thousands by MaryAnn Connor. The story I linked to above, with the connection to NightShift Street Ministries, is the organization that MaryAnn founded. I highly recommend reading her book to understand what God can do through someone with an ear to hear the inner guidance and direction and the will and courage to follow through, and lastly, the faith that God is the source of all Good.

This last link is to Wilkerson's testimony in how God changed the lives of the most notorious gangs in New York City in the 1980s. A true story and miracle!