In my previous article What is the Addiction Cycle? A Christian Counselor Explains,I outlined the first two phases that take place during the Addiction Cycle. These are, firstly, that a person experiences preoccupation with their substance or behavior of choice and, secondly, that preoccupation leads to craving. This article describes the third and fourth phases of the addiction cycle.
The Fantasy Stage of Addiction
The fantasy stage is entered when the addict has made the decision to engage in the addictive behavior. For the drug addict or binge eater, this might be the act of driving to the dealer’s house or the fast food restaurant. They become stuck in the anticipation of getting their drug of choice or food, handing over their money, and driving home, eager to use, though they may not always wait until they get home. For the shopping addict, it might be the drive to the store, the browsing through store after store, isle after isle, looking at all the items they want to buy, then finally deciding which item(s) they will purchase. For the pornography-addicted person, this involves sitting in front of the computer imagining themselves acting out in the images and videos they are watching. Their goal is to maintain this heightened state of euphoria because the apex or climax is such a letdown.
The Addict’s Apex or Climax Leads to Regret
When the shopping addict decides what they want to buy, hands over their money takes their purchase, and walks out of the store, the feelings of shame, guilt, and depression come upon them. And their purchase hangs in the closet, often with other articles of clothing that still have the price tags attached. For the pornography-addicted person, this means that often, after sitting for hours in front of a computer screen masturbating, once they reach orgasm they are hit with the same sense of guilt and shame over what they have just spent so much time doing. The binge eater, having finally become so full that they have a miserably full feeling, is riddled with shame at their binge and at the quantity of food that they have just consumed. For the person who is addicted to sexual acting out, it may be right after the orgasm with whoever they might happen to be with that they begin to kick themselves because they had another one night stand and they hate themselves for it.
The apex or climax is not the actual goal for the addict because it means that the fantasy will end and all the feelings of shame, guilt, and depression will come down upon them. This is when the barrage of browbeating and negative self-talk begins.“Why did I do that again?” “What was I thinking?” “How am I going to explain this?” “Why can’t I control myself?” And then, “This is my last time. I can’t do this anymore. I won’t do it again.” Then the cycle begins all over again.
We are Made to Worship
The truth is that we are all made to worship. But the question is: What is it that we will bow down to? As I see it, worshiping Jesus Christ means building and developing a relationship, which takes time and is not usually instantaneous. It means giving our hearts to something we cannot see, which requires the ability to trust what we cannot see. It means giving up control of our lives, which is something we all struggle with. We all desire gratification and believe that we can “do life” best on our own and that we don’t need someone to tell us what to do. We all want to feel the euphoria of the brain’s pleasure centers being ignited. Ultimately, we all want what we want. We want as much of it as we can get, and we all want it right now. This is why it is so easy to fall into addiction, and why it can be so difficult to replace our addictive behaviors with a loving and fulfilling relationship with Jesus.
Christian Counseling to Break the Addiction Cycle
What are you bowing down and worshiping? Are you unsure how to stop doing it? Speaking to a trained Christian counselor can help you to understand and overcome your addiction. Give me a call here to find out more about how Christian counseling can help you. It is possible to stop the cycle.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. – Philippians 4:8
“Headache,”courtesy of Avenue G, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Happy Family-2,” courtesy of David Amsler, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)
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