Peter Hitchens in FIRST THINGS, February 2017 writes a provocative article entitled, THE FANTASY OF ADDICTION. He maintains that “addiction” describes a power greater than the will. “If it exists in the way we use it and in the way our legal and medical systems assume it exists, then free will has been abolished.” He argues that “the idea that humans do not really have free will is a contentious opinion, not an objective fact.”
Hitchens wants us to stop using the word because it relieves people of responsibility for harmful habits and desires by telling them that their body is to blame. They become involuntary sufferers. They accept that they are completely powerless over their addiction. Yet, although a person cannot choose for themselves to break their habit, many do. How is this possible?
Many supposed “addicts” give up their addictions. They are motivated by fears for their health or their professional standing. “Reason has overcome desire. In which case the whole idea of ‘addiction,’ as a power greater than will, is overthrown.”
“What sustains the continuing belief that ‘addiction’ is a physical disease is presupposition, based upon conventional wisdom, allied with desire.” Bad habits can be given up even when it is difficult but it requires the power of the Spirit. God gives us the will to choose to turn to him.
George Gallup Jr. admitted that he was an alcoholic. His father was also an alcoholic. “When I took my first drink, something happened to me. I was hooked and couldn’t stop. Even as a Christian, I tried and tried. I felt so defeated, and it was ruining my life. Then in a moment of quiet desperation, I heard Jesus whisper to me, ‘George, if you never lick this, that is okay. I died for this struggle in your life, and I still love you deeply.’ From that very moment I haven’t had a drink.”
What has been your experience?