A couple of weeks ago I posted about "those habits that we can't break." Some of them are pretty serious and blatently sinful like pornography or drugs. Others of them are not as obviously hazardous to your spiritual health like food, caffeine, or video games. (If you want to brush up on this conversation, just scroll down a bit)
That post basically described the problem without proposing a solution. Here I want to give some direction on how you break these addictions. These are just basic principles that I found to be very effective in my own life.
First, it's important to note that addictions related to drugs are slightly different than most of the others. There are programs like NA and AA that have been proven very effective in helping people break drug addictions. Gambling, pornography, and even many other addictions have been such a problem that support groups, help lines, and resource materials have been made for them. Of course, there are also rehabilitation facilities for extreme cases. Most of these programs and resources are both good and effective and I would encourage you to take advantage of them if needed. You always want to look out as a Christian though, some programs are slightly anti-Christian.
Here is a check list of things you can do to help get out from underneath whatever addiction plagues you. Some of them are similar to parts of the 12-step program found in NA or AA.
1) Realize and profess that you cannot free yourself from the addiction. You need God's forgiveness, grace, and empowerment to ever be free. God has saved you and is working to make you holy, you can live free from sin as long as you live in His grace.
2) Evaluate your devotional practices. Have you been in God's Word and praying regularly? If not, you have not given the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work in you. Sometimes memorizing relevant Scripture verses or passages is helpful too.
3) When and where are you tempted the most strongly? Try to avoid these times and places. If you always seem to give in when you're alone in the mornings, try to change your schedule around so you won't be "available" for temptation at this time.
4) Usually "the big challenge" isn't where the war is fought (and it's rarely ever won at this point). If you're addicted to pornography and you find yourself at a fence-riding website and you feel tempted to go all out, you're probably going to give in. The war is won in the little battles -- what TV shows are you watching? what music are you listening to? is there a particular place where you find yourself looking lustfully at women? is you sexual life pleasing to God? If you begin winning these smaller battles, you will find that you rarely ever get to the big battle. You can put this principle into practice with any addiction, just find out what the small battles are.
5) Remember that God wants you to be free of your addiction even more than you do. As long as you don't turn your back on His Presence in your life, He will provide you with everything you need to conquer temptation.
I hope these principles are helpful to you!
Do you have any other suggestions that you have found helpful in conquering addictions? Do you have any questions about addictions that you would like others to address?