Steve Arterburn

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. – Exodus 15:2

The Associated Press recently reported a story about a lawyer in Las Vegas who showed up in court late to defend his client.  The lawyer was slurring his words and couldn’t seem to tell a straight story.  So, the judge ordered a breathalyzer, and he questioned the woman who accompanied the lawyer.  The lawyer introduced the woman by one name but when questioned she gave the judge a different name.  She also stated that she’d met the lawyer at a bar twenty minutes earlier.

What’s your reaction to this story?  Disbelief?  Disgust?  Anger?  The truth is that addiction does not respect class, ethnicity, or gender. We all know people who struggle with addiction—perhaps you, yourself, are struggling.

There is a way out—but it begins with you.  Are you ready to make some decisions that will require change?  Are you ready to feel worse before you feel better?  You can do it; but do it with God’s help.  Do it with connection with others.  Do it with professional help if necessary.  God loves you right where you are, but he wants better for you.

“Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.” – George Carlin (1937-    )


  1. Mary Lois green says:

    I am a 66 year old woman who is a “functioning alcoholic” I think. I am a Christian and do not think I need an in house recovery program. I can be away from drinking for 2-3 weeks (like on vacation with non-drinking relatives) but I get bored easily and the box wine is always cold and available. I have confessed to 2 do my christian women friends but do not know how to proceed. My little town has very little christian counseling at least in my church. I just need a jump-start. Is there a book for older women with this problem?

    • Mary,
      You might benefit from reading ‘Addictions and Grace by Gerald G. May (Author) ‘. While this could be a difficult read, it is rich in Christian perspective on our compulsive behaviors in relation to God.
      Locate it at Amazon, very cheap!
      I hope this helps,

  2. Hi Mary Lois Green. I feel the same way. I am a bit younger but in your same situation. My family – on both sides – has a pretty severe history of addiction. Mostly to alcohol. I am a well employed independent single woman with lots of great friends, pets etc. It’s all good. My concern is that I have fallen into a habit of drinking everyday. I’m with you – if I go visit my recovering mother I can go for however long without a drink but, generally in my life, after work – I’d like to have a drink or 4 to sleep well and decompress and fight boredom. This generally doesn’t seem to have such a downside except that I am feeling that I fall short of my potential and also, and more importantly, that I am disappointing God. I’d like to resolve this problem on my own; but I’ve tried and not succeeded. I’d rather not have to quit because I feel like life as I know it would change substantially but I’d also like to please God and live up to my potential. I don’t really know what to do….

  3. Looking for a program that was aired over a month ago on psychosis. Struggling with my husband whose reality is not real and there doesn’t seem to be many answers that are helping. He thinks there are bugs on him. He also has rage behavior and says terrible things that I wonder if he remembers. He has a history of addiction. We are separated now because I did not feel safe. thank you for any input. Kim

  4. jerry b. nelson says:

    I write for my husband he have addiction problems since 2000 and is so bad, he spend all he have and don’t have; work in the peanuts field, now don’t have vehicle brooke down, but the finance own that, he doing craizy thing, we are marry in jan/ 35 years; every day I pray, I want to get a divoce, but he don’t have moral help; ca you please help.

  5. jerry b. nelson says:

    addiction gambling, games etc. my husband have this since 2000 no help, and want to change according to him no family help shame, guilty that all, no food in house work in the farm like pig, go school good person but the gambling is his master please help.

  6. I have visited the Celebrate Recovery program in a town about 40 minutes from where I live. This is a GREAT program for anyone struggling with ANY type of addiction they get to the real heart of the problem they do not judge only support and show a better way. This is a Christian program so everything is based on God’s word and ways and it is AWESOME! Even if you are not the one with the addiction if it is your loved one they can help you help yourself in the situation. YOU are WORTH the effort!

    • Tina Veronica says:

      Love your post Pam. I am struggling with this phase of my addiction. I am a Christian and all of the recovery programs I have been to have not worked and I do believe that for me, through my life when God’s hand is not in it, it just wont happen for me. I am eager to get clean so God can use me as He choses. Can you help me with trying to get me in to a Christian facility I will even travel out of State however funding will / could be a problem because I have state insurance. Do not have family and don’t know whom to turn to. Please any ideas or references or even telephone me I am desperate 203-898-4577. Again, thank you!!

  7. I’m sorry I should have stated that Celebrate Recovery good alternate program if New Life is not in your area! I just wish everyone could see their worth in the eyes of the Lord and strongly urge reaching out to a Christian based program for help.

  8. hey steve and counselors , i am so thankful for you . went to celebrate recovery last nite. very painful, but honest. i am looking forward to the “women in the battle” in november. after the celebrate meeting last nite, i called my boyfriend of five years and broke up with him. i have let myself be used, and not commited to for too long. he tells me i u r abusive, am i? for asking for a marriage after five years, he wants it his way, i was always to scared to leave

  9. A few days ago, God put it on my heart to reach out and write this note. I became a Christian in 1994 (at the ripe age of 33) and God has been working in me ever since. One thing I wasn’t ready to give up was my reliance on alcohol. For years I’d been silently struggling, hiding my addiction (or so I thought at the time), and trying to ignore God reminding me that my life didn’t represent who I was in Him. Addiction wasn’t what He desired for my life. I didn’t know what to do, just that I needed to seek help and I was paralyzed with fear of moving out of what was becoming more and more painful, but had served me so well for so many years — it was comfortable and painful at the same time.

    Then I opened the Daily Devotion sent on March 20, 2009 (I still have the copy I printed out): Overcoming Addiction Builds Character, by Steve Arterburn. I don’t see a way to post it here, but here’s the gist that grabbed my heart and motivated me to get help. “Addiction means compulsively worshipping something other than God…Remember that ultimately you are responsible for controlling your appetites. Others may warn you, help you, encourage you, but in the end, the habits that rule your life are the very same habits that you yourself have formed. Thankfully, since you formed these habits, you can break them if you decide to do so.” That hit me. I called New Life and was given contact information for their rehab facility in Ft. Lauderdale. I refused to listen to Satan telling me how impossible it would be to get away for 30 days. I just gave it up to God to worry about all the details and I went. He changed my desires, made every detail work out for His good and I now count my addiction as a blessing from God. It allowed me to see the contrast between what the world can offer and what He has the power to do. He is faithful and powerful far beyond anything we can find here on earth. Over and over again, He renews my soul and regenerates my heart.

    I am so grateful for how God worked through New Life Ministries as the first step to bring me to the wonderful freedom of sobriety. I encourage anyone who reads this message to reach out and take the hand God has extended and get the help you need. Being a slave to addiction is not the life God planned for you. I can only attest to my own experiences: God was waiting to walk with me through recovery and the struggle was His gift to me. Overcoming addiction builds character — you can do it.

  10. Hello folks I am writing this because it has come to the point in my life that I CAN NOT go on like this. I have been toying around l with porn for quite some time now. At first my notion was on two fronts 1. was to get myself in the “mood” and “ready” for my wife to satisfy her 2. was just “fooling” around and that I can stop it whenever I want to. But Lo and behold I am at this point where all that is CRAMPED on my mind is nothing but porn I have tried several time to stay way from it even to the point of installing safe eyes program on my computer but like dog returning to its vomit I find a way around the program and go right back to it I can not let my church pastor and leadership know because I don’t trust them and also for shamefulness (am a Sunday school teacher) I DO NOT WANNA LIVE LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!
    I do not SENSE the fellowship I used to have with God ANYMORE !!! even though I still continue to do my morning devotion and pray still and have the desire to go to church I do not SENSE Him anymore

    • Like King David did…Never give up; You trust in God to see you though. God promises that whoever hungers and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied. Wait on the Lord, and again I say wait. We all need help and we can keep looking to Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith and the Lover of our souls. <3 God's best to you always.

      • Dear Hec,
        When I was active in my addiction, I felt very far from God. It’s the nature of the disease to isolate and alienate. God called me out of that and it sounds like he’s calling you out of that too. It wasn’t easy but there’s help…lots of help for all addictive and destructive behaviors. You have to submit yourself to it wholeheartedly and God will lead you through it. You’ll be free from the secrets, the self-absorption, the intensity that never satisfies. That is my experience and I will pray the same for you.

  11. I’m struggling with my 19 year old daughter who has dropped out of college and seems to be unmotivated to do anything with her life these days. She is smoking marijuana and pushing the boundaries as far as limits in our home. I can’t seem to trust or believe anything she says. Recently I went to the doctor with her to discuss the possibility depression and anxiety as a factor. The doctor agreed that anxiety may be an underlying cause of her behavior, and recommended therapy. I haven’t been able to get my daughter to simply make the appointment to see a therapist. These days her behavior has been more and more out of control and I’m scared for her life and my sanity as well. Is there anything else I should be doing? Help!

    • Michael says:

      My son is 22 and he started down the same path your daughter is in when he was 17. Marijuana, then pills, even occasional cocaine. Lack of motivation, inability to do well at college, bad behavior at home. Just recently he finally decided to attend an inpatient treatment center. He needed to be far away from any of his circle of friends. So far so good. Hang in there and keep praying for your daughter.

  12. Sounds like time for tough love. Apply it now and don’t give in. Combine it with prayer. My daughter is 17 and we’ve been struggling with her for the last 2 years. We had enough and took away everything — n friends, no electronics, no TV, no driving privileges. Finally she gets it.

  13. Anthony p says:

    I have a vicious heroin addiction, I’ve been trying to get clean for a while. In and out of programs , all by my own accord. I need the Jesus Christ in my life, if I’m ever going to make it. But why should Jesus help me? After all I’ve done. There are other people out there that need his help and that deserve it much more than I do. The LORD may love me but he doesn’t have to like me. And more than likely doesn’t, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t blame him one bit. Am I doomed to be locked in this battle with my additio for the rest of my life? How can Jesus ever forgive me a drug addicted sinner? Why shouldn’t he just write me off?

  14. I’m a 32 year old woman who has been smoking weed for about 16 years. My husband also struggles in this area. I know this is not God`s will for my life and I want to stop smoking. I had a traumatic childhood filled with violence, low self-esteem, heroin addiction on part of my dad. I dont know where to begin. I did read on this website that the 12 steps are biblical. Any book recommendations?

    • Hi Nita,
      How brave to reach out for help. I can tell you from experience that it is not God’s will that you be trapped in addiction. There is life and life abundantly beyond where you are right now. Giving up mind-altering substances and entering recovery was the 2nd best decision I ever made (2nd only to trusting Jesus as my Savior).
      I found 2 books EXTREMELY helpful to me and I use them now to help women as a sobriety sponsor.
      1. Willpower is not enough: Recovering from addictions of every kind — by Arnold Washton and Donna Boundy.
      2. Addictive Thinking: Understanding self deception — by Abraham Twerski.

      My advice: Seek help outside yourself and current circle of friends and family. Get a sobriety sponsor who has a few years sober and a desire to help others. Pray for God’s healing and power as you willingly submit to do what it takes to recover. God’s word promises to help you…but you have to be willing to submit and do the work.
      Best, best to you. Praying for you.

  15. I was just re-reading some of the comments here and had to share something I learned early in recovery that helped propel me forward. It’s this:

    There’s an important distinction between “guilt” and “shame”. The guilty person says “I feel guilty for something I’ve done.” The shame-filled person says “I feel shame for what I am.”

    That’s a big difference. Guilt can lead to corrective action. Shame leads to resignation, despair and fear. The distinction is important because you can apologize, make restitution, make amends and ask forgiveness for what you’ve done, but you can’t do anything about what you are.

    Guilt is a healthy emotion because it gives us motivation to move into a place/set of behaviors where we can avoid the same guilt feelings in the future. Shame has us wallowing in negative self-destruction that gets us nowhere.

  16. Ruth,great advice to Rita, and thanks for the 2 book ideas. However, during my new Journey, 6 months clean, i have found through the help of many that there is a difference between Guilt & Shame. But i do think that with shame, you can change who are are, and shame can be used as a positive tool, like in several of the 12 step process…

    • Thanks for challenging me, MJL. I think we’re basically on the same page. Shame can be used as a positive tool and is inherent in recognizing where we are in life/what we need to change … and our need for our Savior. It can propel us forward, often in disgust of recognizing that we want to mend our ways so as to NEVER feel the same shame again. The opposite can also happen with shame…it can be so overwhelming that it causes us to give up hope and isolate. I believe that’s the dangerous side of shame that we need to guard against — it can paralyze us making us feel like we’re too damaged and beyond help. Dwelling on shame has never worked well in propelling the women I’ve sponsored toward making positive changes. While I’ve come alongside them, listened to their shame, I quickly help them turn their shame into sorrow about the past and recognize that they can’t change the past, but they can work toward changing their attitudes, beliefs and behaviors today so they’ll not deal with the same shame and sorrow in the future.

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