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Roots of Addictive Behavior Part 3

Roots of Addictive Behavior

Unmet Emotional, Physical and Spiritual needs

Free Hearts Uganda is an addiction treatment and rehabilitation center. We specialize in substance abuse disorder, especially alcoholism, marijuana, nicotine, and other habitual behaviors. We are a team of professionals that are dedicated to render a whole human restoration program: spiritually, emotionally, physically...

This is the yet another part of previous articles, that explains practically variety of approaches that substance abuse growth thrive. We are still going to look at the root cause of addictive behavior based on a faulty belief system.

The intention of this writing is to discuss how faulty belief systems can cause addictive behaviors, especially about self.


When basic needs are not met especially during childhood, appropriate bonding of relationship between God and fellow humanity may be interrupted, resulting into feelings of loss. Feelings of loss may produce bitterness, anger and blame. These emotions generally may generate negative responses that are directed against God and those who could not measure up to our expectations. But addictive behaviors are the output of such sabotage. But as the person grows up, he/she will try to regain what he/she missed when young. Some basic legitimate needs will be met illegitimately, birthing addictive behaviors.

Dr. Mary Kurus confirms that our physical body, emotional and spiritual needs, together form the whole person…All organs, systems, thoughts and emotions has their own specific energy or vibration but rythming into a single personality. The energy of each cannot be substituted though forming one entity. Because of this interconnection that is why bitter judgment, anger; loss… can affect a whole person’s development and acts as an agent of sabotage in bonding (Kurus, 2001).

Akello was the fourth of four girls, born to dedicated Christian parents. Even though she was raised in a Christian home and still attended church regularly at the time she climaxed her addictive behavior, she could hardly speak. Her whole world of promiscuity was weighing on her.

Akello’s parents had desperately wanted a boy when she was born, and she had often heard them talk about it while she was growing up. Still as far back as she could remember she had been closer to her father than the other girls. In fact, Akello felt she was like the little boy he never had. He taught her how to play football, ride a bicycle, and drive toy cars.

As Akello reached puberty, her father in an attempt to give her space begun to pull away from her emotionally. It was as though he did not know how to affirm her in her womanhood. Worse, when she wasn’t doing house chores, Akello’s mother tried to spend time with other girls. It was her way of compensating the girls for the time Akello’s father spent with her. Any attachment or connection that Akello had experienced now seemed to be gone. In her desperate search to belong, she became easy prey for some of the older high school boys who showed her special attention, but for the wrong reasons. She got involved in a lifestyle of promiscuous sex that lasted up into her mid-fifties.

As we talked, Akello admitted that it wasn’t the sexual experiences that she really wanted. In fact, sometimes she was repulsed by the sex itself. But her need to be needed seemed overwhelming. What Akello was partially crying out for was for someone to affirm the “little girl” inside her. She had been her daddy’s little boy, but she had not been anyone’s special girl, wife, or mother. Her promiscuous behavior was a false attempt to affirm her woman-hood. She made herself into a pathetic sex object crying out for affirmation. Akello attempted to meet her needs through tragic methods which exposed her to sexual addiction. Whether we attempt to meet our needs in an illegitimate way, or to cover the pain of unmet needs with addictive behavior, the results are the same: guilt, shame, and death.

5.3.1 God’s Design in Creation:

In order to understand Akello’s search, and the search of many people like her, we need to understand God’s design in creation. The Genesis account (Gen. 1: 26-31; 2:18-25) describes Adam as being created in God’s image, according to his likeness, and being given authority to rule over earth’s domain. But because of Adam’s fall, his own sons were born in his likeness and lost God’s original plan for them.

Even after the fall of man, in which all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, the reflections of God’s creation still exist in man’s being:” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in righteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the World, His visible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:18-20). What is the truth that man suppressed? It is clearly described in the creation- that Adam was created in God’s image, according to his likeness and given dominion.

  • God’s image:

God’s image refers to His glory and character and has to do with our being, our dependency on Him. Addiction replaces his glory and character in us- making us depend on other beings.

  • God’s likeness:

God’s likeness refers to His order and has to do with our sexuality as male and female. Our gender identity is at the core of relationships and is related to our sense of belonging; that creates our freedom. Addiction replaces his order in us- replacing his relationship and identity in us making other things our likeness.

  • God’s dominion:

God’s dominion refers to His purpose and has to do with our sense of destiny and becoming. Addiction replaces God given dominion over other creation- instead of us being in authority and leading the purposes and destiny of God, created things are the ones leading us into slavery.

When any one of these steps is sabotaged and wounded, the process of distortion and destruction is set in motion. This is precisely what has happened to man since the fall. Any remaining reflection of God’s glory has been so blinded by Satan that without regeneration and the grace of God, man can never be restored to wholeness. Even after regeneration, the old patterns and systems that were attempts to meet basic legitimate needs must be laid aside as falsehoods and replaced with the truth as it is in Jesus (Eph. 4:17-25). God’s Standard for Wholeness.

The verse we originally mentioned, 2 Cor. 3: 18, says that God’s standard for maturity and wholeness is Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul further states in Colossians 1: 15-16, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through Him and for Him”. Again, Paul says in Colossians 2: 9-10, ‘’For in Him (Christ) all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and he is the head over all rule and authority.” Clearly, our standard of wholeness is Christ, and even through the new birth we are a new creation, our mind, will and emotions are in need of being confirmed to this image (Rom. 12:2).

The process of maturing and growing into wholeness is illustrated in the life of Jesus Christ as described in Luke 2:52: ‘’Jesus grew in wisdom (spirit) and in stature (physical and chronological), and in favor (psychological and personality) with God and man. This process included and was dependent upon healthy relationships with God and man. As the RIAAB counseling model is being administered the whole personality should be taken cared for even by different peoples and in defend roles.

Likewise, our well-being and growth as believers needs the same process of an intimate relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ and the fellowship and affirmation of the body of Christ through his church. When this process has been interrupted, even at childhood; addictive distortion come in, recovery and restoration may be hindered unless we acquire proper understanding and healing. Effects of Distorted God’s Design and Standards:

The distortion of God`s design and standards results into wounded person, traumatized life and fragmentation being. And the origin of these three is sin; sin of addiction (bad bonding relationship with God and others.

  • Woundedness:

A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Prov. 18:19). When the relationships affecting our spiritual and emotional growth are interrupted through overt or covert activities, a wall is built and the relationship is hindered or sabotaged. Angela was deeply wounded by her father’s rejection of her femaleness and her mother’s refusal to respond to her needs. Additional hurts from others reinforced this wall, preventing further relationships and hindering growth.

Think of the wall as a high, invisible brick structure that was surrounding Akello’s life. It had been built, brick by brick, with each hurt and disappointment. It represented Akello’s attempt to keep from being hurt again, but it also imprisoned her by keeping her from developing healthy and meaningful relationships (but reinforcing addiction). The additional hurts that reinforced the wall came from the men she became sexually involved with but who only used her and boasted to others about it.

Often, feelings of hurt or offenses are transferred to God, causing further isolation and loneliness. We ask, “Why did God let this happen? Why didn’t he give me a different life?” On and on we struggle for answers until our hearts become hard and cold toward God. Sadly, many people stay in the prison of hurt and bitterness forever. And more often than not addictive behavior set in at this stage. Over reacting, bitterness, controlling others, negativism, and alcoholism… Peter Gerlach, in his research suggests that, if young kids get too few of their psychological and spiritual needs met, they automatically survive by forming a multi-part personality. This causes several related psychological "wounds": These include, excessive shame, guilt, and fears; major reality distortions and trust problems, and for some...difficulty bonding with some or all other people. Unseen, these psychological wounds seem "normal." They significantly stress relationships, careers, parenting, and physical and mental health. Our media uses the vague term "mental illness" to refer to "false self wounding" (Gerlach, 2011).

The apostle Paul describes this process in Romans 1:21: “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened.” Why would a person not give thanks to God? Because of unfulfilled expectations; our anger and bitterness is not only directed toward those who have hurt us, but may also be directed to others who look, act, or remind us of those who hurt us.

  • Traumatized Personality.

The second stage of a distorted design and standard of God results into a traumatized personality. Sometimes a wall is built around a person, not through a series of remembered offenses, but through severe trauma. A person who has been severely traumatized through abuse and molestation (physical, sexual, or emotional) may close off himself or herself in an attempt to eliminate pain through loss of memories.

RIAAB counseling encourages trusting the Holy Spirit to bring clearly to mind any events that should be recalled and, with the help of a good and competent counselor, sort out imagination and fiction from reality. Through imagination and false accusations, innocent people and families can be destroyed. The purpose of restoration is not to cause further emotional abuse to innocent parties. However, where molestation in childhood has occurred, seek out helpful reading resources and an experienced counselor to guide through the process of healing for self, the perpetrator, and any other people involved.

A deep sense of shame and self-hate may also be prevalent when one person has a traumatized personality. For years, Betty lived in an isolated world of shame and self-hate. Even though she had not remembered childhood molestation, neither could she remember many events from the past. A long, dark space blanked out her history, as if someone had turned off the light in her mind. Actually, Betty had turned off the light to keep from seeing and feeling the pain and hurt from sexual molestation from an older brother and her stepfather over a period of several years. During a seminar about releasing unhealthy shame, it was as though someone turned on a light for Betty. As she learned about God’s fatherly love and how to trust him in his grace and mercy, her restoration and healing began.

Dr. Moroz writes:

A distrust of others and a fear of abandonment may also characterize a traumatized personality. Distrust of others, can lead to an isolated life and from meaningful friendships. (Moroz, 2005)

  • Fragmented Personality.

Again Dr. Moroz commenting on fragmented personality says:

Among the most devastating effects of early trauma is the disruption of the person’s individuation and differentiation of a separate sense of self. Fragmentation of the developing self occurs in response to trauma that overwhelms the person’s limited capacities for self regulation. Survival becomes the focus of the person’s interactions and activities and adapting to the demands of their environment takes priority. Traumatized personality, lose themselves in the process of coping with ongoing threats to their survival. Young trauma victims often come to believe there is something inherently wrong with them, that they are at fault, unlovable, hateful, helpless and unworthy of protection and love. Such feelings lead to poor self-image, self abandonment, and self destructiveness. Ultimately, these feelings may create a victim state of body mind spirit that leaves the person vulnerable to subsequent trauma and revictimization (Moroz, 2005).

Unlike someone with a traumatized personality, the fragmented person may remember most past events and personal history, but a specific area or areas of his or her life may seem splintered and unattached. The arresting of personality growth may occur in one specific area (sexuality, relationships, trust, finances, etc.), and while other areas will be affected, it will not be to the same extent. A person may also exhibit instability, as the scriptures say: A double-minded man will be unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). The words ‘unstable in all his ways’ may rightly mean addictive behaviors.

For the relational integrated counsel on unmet physical, emotional and spiritual needs as a root of addiction we shall employ the relational process of change through fellowship. The relational purpose of fellowship is replacing wrongful relationship with meaningful and pure relationship and the relational result of this is rebonding, giving God our whole hearts

Dr. Chris Kigezo holds doctorate in addiction treatment and rehabilitation with a special bias in Christian counceling and cognitive behavial therapy.

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