More About Addictions
Our last newsletter ended with this question: “What does an addict need to overcome addiction and be truly free?” The short answer to that question is that we need God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, while we surrender to, depend upon, and cooperate with Him. But we first need to understand more about addictions before we can expand upon that thought.
The vast majority of attempts to overcome an addiction are unsuccessful. Most, if they actually stop using the substance or participating in the behavior that was associated with their addiction, will simply switch to another substance or behavior. To switch your substance of use or behavior of choice to another one is not freedom. Freedom comes when you are free from addiction itself. So, what is needed for you to be free—truly free? Before we answer this question, we need to understand what influences someone to stay in an addiction or to attempt to go free from that addiction.
Gain and Loss
We make decisions based upon gain and loss. We always pursue what we believe to be gain, and we always try to avoid what we believe to be loss. As long as we see the addiction as a gain, we cannot stop it, even if we believe it is wrong. If you think about it, there are many things in your life that you know you shouldn’t do, but you do it anyway. Why? Because the deciding factor of whether you do or don’t do something is not whether you think it is right or wrong (which is a function of your conscience). It is whether you believe it is a gain or a loss (which is a function of your heart). If you believe it is right (in your conscience), but you also believe it is a loss (in your heart), you won’t do it. If you believe it is wrong (conscience), but you also believe it is a gain (heart), you will do it. This is how we function in sinful nature.
When it comes to varying degrees of gain and loss, we always pursue the greater gain, and we always try to avoid the greater loss. If you are presented with the option of receiving $5 or $5,000,000 with no strings attached, which one would you choose? All of us would choose $5,000,000. Why? Because we all pursue the greater gain. If you were fined for something and given the option of paying either $5 or $5,000,000 for the fine, which one would you choose? All of us would choose $5. Why? Because we all seek to avoid the greater loss. The only way we can choose what we believe is a loss is if that choice allows us to avoid a greater loss. Otherwise, we can only choose what we believe is a gain.
One of the ways you can get someone to stop pursuing what they believe is gain is by attaching sufficient negative consequences to that thing, so that the combined “value” (of the perceived gain of the thing in question and the loss of the negative consequences attached to it) is now considered a loss, not a gain. For example, if you have a fast car, and you enjoy driving very fast in your car, you will drive very fast in your car. But, if your mother is riding with you in the car, and she keeps yelling at you about driving so fast, you will slow down if your mother’s disapproval and yelling is a greater loss to you than the gain of driving very fast. And if you get caught by the police and they give you a hefty fine for driving so fast, that may deter you from driving so fast in the future, as long as you think you might get caught and the fine is a greater loss than the gain of driving fast. But the moment you think no one is watching and you won’t get caught, you will start driving fast again.
This motivation doesn’t change a person’s heart. It only influences their behavior when they think that behavior will be associated with sufficiently negative consequences to make the overall experience negative. But the moment they believe the overall experience may be positive, or they think they can get away with it without the negative consequences, they will go back to it.
In addictions, this type of change in behavior is sometimes achieved when someone gets lung cancer when they were smoking, liver disease when they were drinking, arrested when they were drinking and driving or in possession of illegal drugs, threatened with divorce when they were viewing pornography, forced to foreclose on their house when they were gambling, etc. If the negative consequences associated with the addiction become so great that the combined “value” of the addiction plus the consequences is negative, then they are at the point of seriously looking into what is needed for them to stop the addictive substance or behavior.
Once an individual comes to the point of seeing the overall addiction and its negative consequences as a loss, then they are ready to pursue options that could help them be free. But they still will not pursue freedom if they believe that doing so will create greater losses than the current loss they are in. For example, if someone has been addicted in secret, and they believe that admitting their addiction to someone who is important to them (spouse, child, parent, etc.) will result in rejection and the loss of that relationship, they won’t admit the problems and pursue solutions to it until the addiction becomes a greater loss to them than the potential of losing that relationship. When the loss of the addiction plus its negative consequences is greater than the perceived loss that will be sustained by doing whatever is necessary to be free, only then will the addict be willing to do whatever is necessary to be free from the addiction. This is the “bottom of the barrel,” the “rock and the hard place,” and the “end of the rope” for the addict. This is where a change begins to happen in the life of the individual.
One of the losses that an addict faces when they consider doing whatever is necessary to be free from the addiction is a loss of significant relationships. They fear that the process of going free will result in their losing important relationships. Another fear is the loss of one’s identity. Usually by this point, the addict has been an addict for a long time, and their addiction is a familiar part of their life. They have learned to live by lies and secrecy, and the guilt, self-hatred, broken promises, forfeited pledges and double life that they have experienced and lived is such a part of their life that they see it as an integral part of their identity. They might not be able to even imagine what life would be like without the addiction. “Who would I be without this addiction?” is a frightening thought to some.
There can be the fear of losing respect. This is especially the case with hidden addictions. If it isn’t general knowledge that you are addicted, then there is fear of what will happen when it does become general knowledge. What will they think of me at work? What will they think of me at church? What will they think of me at the club? What will my friends and family think of me? The fear of rejection plays a huge role here. Another fear is the negative effects (withdrawal symptoms) of stopping the substance of behavior of choice. Depending upon the substance or behavior, those effects can feel like walking through hell. Of course, there is the fear of having to face the difficulties of life without the ability to escape into the addiction for relief. Now you have to face the suffering without your chosen method of numbing the pain. And there is the fear of others knowing about the problem and then you falling yet again into the addiction, which would bring further rejection.
Each of these are fears that may be faced by the addict as they are contemplating freedom from the addiction. And only when the loss of the addiction and its negative consequences is greater than the perceived loss of doing whatever is necessary to be free, only then will the addict begin to explore freedom.
Dealing with the Addict
But the fear of the addict’s loved ones is that the addict will never turn around. The fear is that they will consume their substance of choice to the point of death. Or they may become so discouraged by the consequences of the addiction that they will commit suicide in desperation. This is a possible outcome of the addiction, and it is more likely with some substances and behaviors than others. But what we need to understand is that the same circumstances that bring someone to the point of suicide are the same circumstances that bring that person to the point of surrender. There is only a thin dividing line between the suicide that ends the struggle in failure and the surrender that leads to victory. And the thing that makes the difference between suicide and surrender is hope. If someone comes to that dark place without hope, the result can be suicide. But if they come to that dark place with hope, the result is surrender.
The negative consequences of the addiction are needed to bring the addict to the point of surrender, where the addiction and its consequences become the greater loss, and they are then willing to face the smaller loss of doing whatever is necessary to be free. So, don’t “save” the addict from any of the consequences. Let them face every consequence that comes to them. But, while you allow them to suffer the consequences, give them hope. “You haven’t gone too far. It’s not too late for you. God has 1,000 ways to set you free and He only needs one of those ways. No, it hasn’t worked so far, but it will work.” Always give them hope.
If you can, put the addict in contact with others who have struggled with and overcome the same addiction. Someone who has been through it before will be able to give invaluable advice to the one who is still in the addiction. They can assure them that stopping isn’t as bad as they fear it will be. They can give first-hand experience of what it was like for them to quit, what worked for them, what didn’t work, and what pitfalls to avoid along the way. They can help the addict to understand that they aren’t alone. Others have struggled with the same problem and have overcome; and there is hope for them to overcome as well. They may also be able to serve as an accountability partner for the addict, encouraging them to make a decision to quit, and holding them accountable, in love, to that decision. It is often said, you know an addict is lying if their lips are moving. This can be very true, but a former addict can usually spot many of the common lies of the current addict. A good accountability partner knows how to identify the lies, confront the lies, and probe for the truth.
While you always let the addict suffer the consequences of their addiction, always love them and give them honor and respect. Treat them as valuable. But don’t depend upon them. If you see them as the source of anything you need, you can’t truly be free from them—you can’t be free to love them as they need to be loved and give them the freedom they need. You need what is good, and if you need them, then you must try everything you can to make them be good, so that you can get what you need. You will try to force, coerce, manipulate, lay guilt trips, blame, etc. to try to make them better. And doing these things will reinforce the very reason that they pursued the addiction in the first place (a lack of love) and drive them deeper into the addiction. If you need them, then you will only “love” them when they are being good. And when they know that you only love them when they are being good, they will retreat back into secrecy. They see from your current actions that you would give up on them if things got bad enough, so that fear of rejection will keep them from doing whatever is necessary to be free, for the environment is not safe enough to pursue that freedom.
Does loving them mean that you have to stay with them? Not necessarily. You must ask God what He would have you to do in the situation. God knows all things and knows what would be best. Let Him guide in the moment. It may be best for you to stay. Or, it may be necessary, because of the addiction and its consequences, to separate from the addict. It may be necessary to separate bank accounts, living spaces, legal affairs, etc. for their sake. But don’t pursue this separation to protect yourself. That won’t end up well. Pursue the separation for their sake and for God’s plan and mission for your life. If you want to know more about proper boundaries, check out my presentation on the topic HERE.
Anything that you can do to decrease the perceived loss (fears) associated with facing and quitting the addiction will help the addict from having to go so deep into the darkness before turning around. So do what you can to understand their fears, address them in a loving and realistic way, and encourage (but not force) them toward change. Recognize that most attempts at quitting an addiction are associated with relapses. Recognize that, expect it, prepare for it yourself by deciding beforehand how you could best respond to help them back to freedom, and help the addict to know that they have the grace to be imperfect as long as they are not just giving up and giving in to the addiction. Help the addict to see a relapse as an educational opportunity rather than a complete failure. Help them to examine what was going on in their life and their thoughts that led to their relapse. The better they can understand what led to the relapse, the more they can cooperate in resolving the underlying problem behind the addiction. But, if they see the relapse as a complete failure, they will go right back into guilt, self-blame, self-hatred, and the addiction cycle will continue unabated.
Many believe that victory over an addiction consists of never participating in the behavior or using the substance anymore. But this is not necessarily true victory. You may never participate in your addiction again, but you could simply be “white knuckling it.” Or you may simply switch to another addictive substance or behavior and leave the previous one behind. True victory in overcoming addiction is being satisfied when it comes to love, being attracted to good and repulsed by evil, and having perfect self-control under all circumstances.
What is needed for that true victory in your life? We will look at that further in our next month’s newsletter. So, keep watching your mailbox.
If you would like to be a part of our PRAYER TEAM, please send your name and email address to [email protected] and we will add you to our team. We are grateful for all who have volunteered and are always looking for more prayer warriors.
New Paradigm Camp Meeting!
We are going to have our first ever New Paradigm Camp Meeting September 20-24, 2023, at our property in Cabool, Missouri. More information will come as the details are finalized, but keep those dates in your calendar.
Decatur, Arkansas – Wellness Secrets
We had the privilege of spending a long weekend with old and new friends at the Decatur SDA Church in Decatur, Arkansas. The church is right across the street from Wellness Secrets, a lifestyle center and vegan café in Decatur. Our friends, Dave and Sonja Upham, run the center and invited us out for the weekend. We had a precious time with the Decatur church family. The Lord brought conviction and hope to many hearts, and for this we are very grateful.
Join us Monday evenings from 6:30-8:30pm Central Time for our group sessions on Zoom. The link for each meeting is: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/87592054012, which will be the same link for every subsequent group session. We will not have a group session on November 14 as Dr. Sandoval will be at a conference at that time. If you can’t join the meetings in person, you can watch them later on our YouTube channel HERE.
Lessons From Covid
Lessons From Covid is a 11-part series that Dr. Sandoval developed to look at what happened in the Covid pandemic from a scriptural standpoint. The 17 lessons outlined in these 11 presentations are important for us today as we consider other infections, future epidemics or pandemics, vaccine mandates, and other coercive measures of enforcement that will recur in the future and how we are to relate to these things from a scriptural standpoint. Lessons From Covid is now available in HD on flash drive, with 9 hours of video, 11 presentations, and all the PowerPoint slides and PDF files for the entire series—all for only $45 (with free shipping in the US). To order yours, please email us at [email protected].
Two Books in Process
Dr. Sandoval has been working on a couple books. The first book is Life Lessons from Luke, Volume 1, which is a verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Luke, specifically looking at principles imbedded in each passage that can be applied to your life to help you to victory. The first volume covers Luke chapters 1-4. We project this book will be available during the first half of 2023. Future books in this series will continue through the book of Luke until the whole book of Luke has been covered. The second book is Bible Promises for Freedom. This book will contain strategies for using the promises of the Bible to help you overcome your struggles, as well as a searchable index of hundreds of Bible promises addressing the different problems each of us face. This book will likely be completed in the latter half of 2023.
We are in the process of replacing rotting pump houses, insulating part of our barn for temperature-controlled storage (we lost food due to extremes in temperature this last summer and winter), adding a couple hoop houses to the property, and bringing in topsoil for our garden (our soil is rock and clay). And this coming spring we will be planting fruit trees.
Please keep in prayer our pavilion project—adding a kitchen, laundry room, and additional bathrooms to our pavilion and then re-roofing it. We estimate that will cost about $30k.
Counseling or Health Consultations
If you are struggling with personal, relationship, or health challenges, we are available to counsel with you. Virtual appointments can be scheduled through our website at https://npmin.org/appointments
If you would like to schedule Dr. Sandoval to speak for your church or community, you can contact us at [email protected]. Currently, the earliest availability will be in November, 2023.
December 9-11, 2022
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking about mental health and New Paradigm Ministries at the Seventh-day Adventist church in Melbourne, Florida.
December 28-January 1
We plan to have a booth at the GYC conference in Phoenix, Arizona, so stop by and see us.
January 11-15, 2023
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking at the Pearland International SDA Church in Pearland, Texas.
January 17-22, 2023
The Sandoval family will be attending the Adventist Agricultural Association’s annual meeting in Glen Rose, Texas. We will have a booth at the conference and would love to see you there.
March 17-19, 2023
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking at Oklahoma Academy for a health/mental health weekend.
May 11-12, 2023
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking for Wildwood Health Retreat’s Diabetes Seminar in Wildwood, Georgia.
May 20-21, 2023
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking at the SDA church in Landsdale, Pennsylvania.
June 28-July 2, 2023
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking at the Red River Camp Meeting in Stanton, Kentucky.
July 24-30, 2023
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking for the Family Camp in Pearland, Texas.
August 2-5, 2023
The Sandoval family plan to attend the international ASI convention. We plan to have a booth at the conference, so come see us at the booth.
August 30-September 2, 2023
Dr. Sandoval will be speaking at the MEET Ministry camp meeting in Huntingdon, Tennessee.
September 20-24, 2023
Plan to join us in Cabool, Missouri for our first New Paradigm Ministries camp meeting!
September 28-30, 2023
New Paradigm Ministries plans to join the North American Outpost Centers International leadership retreat.
If the Lord is laying it upon your heart to support the work of New Paradigm Ministries financially, we would be most appreciative. Your tax-deductible donations can be given via check to:
New Paradigm Ministries
Cabool, MO 65689
14527 Berry Rd.
Or you can donate on our website HERE.