When limits are imposed on a person, they may feel suffocated by their lack of choices or feel that they are losing their sense of individuality. For someone struggling with addiction, this concept is especially true. Someone who struggles with alcohol addiction, for example, does not want their choice to drink taken away from them. In fact, their physical body, along with their emotional state, has become so dependent on alcohol to deal with life that they feel like they have no other options but to continue the cycle of addiction.
After a while, many of those caught in this cycle begin to understand that using more of a substance to deal with life has stopped working. But they have to come to this perspective shift for themselves. People looking in from the outside, even with good intentions, will not be able to create a set of rules that will stop someone’s addictive habits, no matter how destructive they may be.
Someone struggling with addiction has to come to the realization that addiction is a disease that can destroy their life if left unchecked. Cancer is a disease that ravages the human body, causing physical and emotional harm. To combat cancer, there is medical treatment available, such as chemotherapy and radiation. Along with this, a person fighting cancer quickly realizes that there are certain things that help in their recovery, and certain things that do not. There are certain treatment plans that require more rest, more exercise, or a different diet. These do not feel like “limits” imposed by a doctor. These feel like steps towards healing from a disease! Addiction must be treated in the same way.
It can be very challenging to make changes away from addiction, but just like a cancer patient, these changes are necessary to find the recovery someone is longing for. It may be a decision to join a support group or a change in how someone spends their time and who they spend it with. Someone in the throes of addiction needs God’s help to make these changes.
The amazing truth is that there are no limits with God. He wants people to experience freedom. There are, however, boundaries in place to keep someone struggling with addiction from hurting themselves or others. Just like a treatment process for cancer, the boundaries God helps someone determine are for their good. King David understood this when he wrote that “the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6 NIV). He saw that God was only trying to help him, not put limitations on him.
When a person struggling with addiction begins to understand that boundaries are helpful for them, then they will no longer feel like rules or limits. They will start to see that the real limit on their life is the disease of addiction. Only with God’s help can they truly be limitless.