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Bible Verses About Addiction

What does the Bible say about addiction?

Addiction is nothing new. Yes, there are new things to be addicted to, but addictive behaviors and things to get addicted to have been around for millennia.

Sadly, many Christians are addicted to one thing or another. You might be surprised to hear that, but it’s true. Addictions weaken your body, bring depression, cost you financially, and harm your relationships and career. Many addictions can be deadly.

What are the different types of addictions, and what are their root causes? How can God help you defeat addiction? What role do grace and community play in addiction recovery? Let’s explore what the Bible has to say about all this!

Christian quotes about addiction

“Knowing the truth concerning the deep workings of the evil spirit helps the individual not only to overcome sins but to eliminate unnecessary afflictions as well.” Watchman Nee

“You know you are an addict when you are trying to escape your distress with the very thing that brought you your distress. And when you are in that spiral, you are stuck forever.” Tim Keller

“In Christ alone there is deliverance from man’s tortured thoughts and freedom from the sordid habits which are destroying so many people.” Billy Graham

Different types of addiction

Understanding addiction is the first step in overcoming it. Addiction is a condition of repetitive self-destructive behaviors that are difficult to stop. Addiction has biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors, but ultimately, it is a spiritual condition. When we say it is biological, that’s become some addictions – especially alcohol and drugs – actually change the brain. It can affect the decision-making center of the brain’s frontal cortex.

Addiction tends to run in families, making some wonder if there are genetic tendencies. But sociocultural factors are strong in the family. In other words, if you grow up in a home with a family member who was a smoker or an alcoholic, you’ll probably do one of two things. You will never smoke or drink because you know how hard it is to break these addictions. Or you may also be a heavy smoker or drinker because that is what was modeled during your formative years. The same is true of college students and their roommates. They tend to drink too much, take drugs, or get involved in risky sexual behavior because everyone around them is doing it. This is what is meant by sociocultural factors.

Psychological factors that play into addiction can include stress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and some mental illnesses like bipolar disease and schizophrenia.

Addiction is, above all, a spiritual disorder. Studies prove that young people active in church and dedicated to a personal relationship with God are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.[i] Additionally, those with an active and healthy relationship with God are much more likely to beat addictions. Addictions happen when we substitute other things for God. Instead of turning to God for comfort, meaning, and joy – we try to find pleasure in things and habits.

There are many types of addiction. We usually think of drugs, alcohol, and smoking. But addictions can also include gambling, sex, shopping, exercise, online gaming, eating disorders, watching too much TV, pornography, social media, and much more. Any self-destructive behavior that we feel compelled to do is an addiction. Some things – like exercise and eating – are necessary for life and health. But they can be done to an excess or in an unhealthy way.

What is the biblical meaning of addiction?

The Bible uses the word “lust” for a desire for things that supplant our love for God. The Greek word translated as “lust” in the New Testament is epithumia. It means a passionate longing, an inordinate desire, or an urge for something.

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God continues to live forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

If we love something more than we love God, that has become an idol, which is a sin. An addiction is essentially bowing down to and serving a certain behavior. It’s idolatry.

  • “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even as I weep, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who have their minds on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19)

Wow! Did you catch that? If our appetite (for anything, not necessarily food) is our god – if it rules us – it makes us an enemy of the cross of Christ. If our attention to earthly things takes the place of God – it makes us an enemy of the cross of Christ.

1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

John 8:34 (NIV) “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

Colossians 3:8-10 (ESV) “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

Philippians 3:18-19 (NIV) “For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

1 Corinthians 10:14 “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.”

Is addiction a sin?

A sin is doing something God forbids or not doing something God tells us to do.

We are commanded to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Any activity distracting us from our love for God causes us to sin. If a shopping addiction takes us away from reading the Bible, praying, or going to church, it’s a sin.

Many addictive behaviors – like drinking, drugs, overeating, and sexual promiscuity – harm our bodies. If our behavior is terrible for our health or dishonors our bodies, it’s a sin.

  • “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The Bible specifically forbids some addictive behaviors:

  • “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion” (Ephesians 5:18)
  • “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony (over-eating)” (Proverbs 23:2)

 James 1:15 “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Galatians 5:1 (NASB) “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”

1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from the desires of the flesh, which war against your soul.”

Galatians 5:19-21 “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”

What is the root cause of addiction?

From a secular perspective, no single “smoking gun” is the root cause of addiction. However, stress, mental health issues, trauma, unmet needs, family history, and genetics are often mentioned as potential root causes.

From a Biblical perspective, the root cause of addiction is sin. Sin separates us from God. Instead of going to God when we are stressed or have unmet needs, pain, or trauma, we find substitutes. Then we get addicted to those substitutes.

We should also consider the role of temptation. Satan uses temptation to lure us away from God and into destructive behaviors. Successfully fighting addiction involves repenting our sins and returning to God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. We must also fiercely resist temptation.

  • “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV) “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Ecclesiastes 6:9 (ESV) “Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.”

Romans 8:7 “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”

How to overcome addiction with God?

A deep and abiding relationship with God is your most powerful tool to overcome addiction. You must surrender every part of your life to Him. Managing cravings and stress begins with spending quality time with God. Read and meditate on His Word. Spend a lengthy time in prayer and in praising Him in song. Spend as much time in church, Bible study, and Christian fellowship as possible. These activities will build up your faith. They will also keep you busy and away from potential triggers for addictions (like friends with unhealthy habits, TV, bars, parties, mindless shopping, and so on).

Try to find a support group or rehab program that is faith-based. You need to be in an environment that brings God into the equation. If all they are offering are secular psychology and methods, they are missing out on the most essential element. They may even be feeding you information contrary to God’s Word.

Study scriptures and read Christian books on the topic of sanctification and transformation. Sanctification means being “set apart.” It’s allowing Christ to work in your heart, mind, and life to make you progressively more like Him. It’s moving away from sinful behaviors and things of the world. We are in the world but not of the world. Sanctification is moving into more profound holiness, where every aspect of our lives is entirely dedicated to God. Sanctification will bless you with purpose, hope, strength, and healing. .

Meet with the pastor of your church for prayer and be accountable to him regularly.

I Corinthians 9:27 “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

Psalm 62:8 (KJV) “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.”

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Romans 13:12 “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Romans 6:6 “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.”

Psalm 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

Colossians 3:1 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Galatians 2:20 (KJV) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

Help with drugs, porn, and alcohol addiction

The first step is trusting God. That may sound overly simplistic. But taking our addictions to God and asking Him for the strength and wisdom to overcome them is more important than anything else you can do. God is right there, waiting for you to turn to Him.

The second step is taking action. For drugs or severe alcohol addiction, you need to get into a faith-based rehab program. You also need to be accountable to your church and pastor. Once you have completed rehab, you need to get into a Christian support group for additions to drugs, porn, or alcohol.

Alcoholics Anonymous[ii] is not specifically a Christian group, but its 12-step process was initially based on Christian principles. They have meetings in almost every city in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services runs SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). They have a 24-hour hotline (1-800-662-HELP) that you can call if you or a loved one is in crisis with substance abuse. However, any referrals they give you will not necessarily be faith-based.

Alcoholics Victorious[iii] is a faith-based program that uses the 12 steps of recovery from drugs and alcohol. They have locations around the U.S.

Overcomers Outreach[iv] is an international network of Christ-centered 12-step programs for any addictive behaviors. 

Adult & Teen Challenge[v] offers Christ-focused long-term residential programs for alcohol and drug recovery.

Galatians 5:16-17 “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

. Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Colossians 3:5 (NKJV) “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.”

Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

The importance of grace in overcoming addictions

You have immense value to God – not based on what you are doing or not doing – but based on God’s immeasurable love. Grace is God’s kindness and favor toward you – not because you deserve it, but because of His all-loving character. Understanding and taking hold of God’s grace is vital to breaking the strongholds of compulsive behaviors and skewed thinking.

  • “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously, and in a godly manner in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12).

Grace isn’t based on how well you perform in a recovery program, follow its rules and rituals, or manage your behaviors. As long as you realize your need for recovery, grace is there to offer you hope. As you experience the incomprehensible love of Christ, you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Through grace, you can experience true healing and freedom.

Grace brings a new perspective to the journey of recovery. Instead of judging your performance, you are basking in God’s unconditional love and your immeasurable worth in His eyes. Grace encourages growth in a relationship of love and joy. Grace is what will truly set you free.

Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The importance of community in addiction recovery

Trying to beat addiction on your own is never a good idea. It’s essential to connect with others who are going through the same journey. Connecting with others who share your Christian faith and values is especially important. You need the support of others – a place where you can feel unjudged and encouraged. Community helps you avoid the isolation that can lead to relapse. It allows you to realize who you are.

Those who join a support group as part of their addiction recovery are far less likely to relapse. In a support group, you can learn to open up in a place where you feel safe. You can share your feelings and challenges and learn important things about yourself. In a community setting, you can learn from others as they share their strategies for navigating tricky social situations or beating temptation.

Proverbs 11:14 “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Romans 12:4-5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Galatians 6:2 (ESV) “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.”

Encouraging verses for recovering addicts

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you, except what is common to man. And God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but will also provide with the temptation the escape, to be able to endure it.”

Psalm 107:13-14 “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke away their chains.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

James 5:14-16 “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick. The Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

Psalms 50:15 “and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

1 Peter 5:6-9 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may exalt you. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith and in the knowledge that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.”

Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will do it.”

Psalm 18:6 “In my distress I called upon the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry for His help reached His ears.”

Examples of addiction in the Bible

The Prodigal Son: in Luke 15:11-32, Jesus describes a young man who was destroyed by addictions. He grew up in a wealthy family but longed for freedom to do whatever he wanted. He asked his father to give him his share of his inheritance. When he got the money, he left home. He did not handle his new freedom well and squandered his wealth in riotous living. He apparently had sexual addictions because he spent a lot of money on prostitutes. He was probably also addicted to alcohol. He continued down this destructive path until he lost all his money. To add to his woes, famine hit the land. He got a job feeding pigs and was so hungry, he wanted to eat the pigs’ food. He finally came to his senses. He realized he was in these dreadful circumstances from bad choices and addiction to a party lifestyle. He returned home and apologized to his father, who received him as his long-lost son.

King Solomon had multiple addictions in direct disobedience to God’s directive regarding kings:

“He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.” (Deuteronomy 7:7)

What did Solomon do?

  • “I also amassed for myself silver and gold, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers, and the pleasures of the sons of mankind: many concubines.” (Ecclesiastes 2:8)

Solomon had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. Kings of his day customarily made strategic political marriages, but 700 is over the top. That many wives and concubines points to sexual addiction. The Bible says that his wives led him astray into worshiping false gods.

By his own admission, Solomon was also addicted to pleasure and accumulating material things.

  • “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. . . Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)


Recovering from addictions ultimately involves making a choice. King Solomon saw the meaninglessness of his addictions, but he never chose to change things. His many wives pulled him into idolatry and his kingdom split shortly after his death due to his extravagant lifestyle creating high taxes.

On the other hand, the prodigal son made the choice to leave his lifestyle. Of course, in a way, the choice was made for him because he ran out of money. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom to see things clearly. The prodigal realized that placing himself under his father’s authority was the right thing to do.

If you are fighting addictions, you have a choice. You can continue down the same path and destroy yourself, your family, and everything you’ve worked hard to achieve. Or you can choose recovery.

Recovery is not easy. It’s hard work and full of challenges. But recovery is possible through God’s grace, a good faith-based program, and a supportive community of others traveling the same road.

Take that first step. Confess your sin to God, trust Him, and reach out for help.

[i] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6759672/#:~:text=Evidence%2Dbased%20studies%20have%20found,criminal%20activity%20(Johnson%20et%20al.

[ii] https://www.aa.org/

[iii] https://www.alcoholicsvictorious.org/

[iv] https://www.overcomersoutreach.org/

[v] https://teenchallengeusa.org/

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