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How to deal with bad habits and addiction.
First of All, What Is a Habit?

         • The dictionary says, “A settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”
                   o A tendency is “an inclination toward a particular characteristic or type of behavior.”
                   o To practice is “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.”

So Then What Is a Habit?

         • Something that you choose to do and are inclined to practice it repeatedly.
         • This choice can either be something healthy or something unhealthy.

Are All Habits the Same?

         1. Acceptable Habits (conscious)

                   a. You go to work every day.
                   b. You take a bath.
                   c. You eat on a regular schedule.
                   d. You exercise.
                   e. And so on.

         2. Unacceptable habits (conscious)

                   a. Addiction, alcoholism, etc.
                   b. Violent outbreaks.
                   c. Crime.
                   d. Abusive behavior.
                   e. And so on.

         3. Unconscious habits

                   a. You Chew your food in your manner.
                   b. You Comb your hair your way.
                   c. You bite your nails.
                   d. You worry about things you cannot control.
                   e. Etc.

How Do Habits Form?

         1. Something triggers us, and we respond by unconsciously sending an instruction to our brain to create a reaction in us that corresponds to the trigger.

         2. The brain starts by producing physical and emotional reactions in us that will lead to a response that we believe is appropriate for the situation.

                   a. For example, I am a child and in my room one night during a rainstorm.
                   b. I am sitting on my bed when suddenly lightning strikes nearby, and I jump with fright.
                   c. I quickly grab my blanket and cover myself.
                   d. After that, I realize that there are no more lightning strikes and recognize it happened after I covered myself with my blanket.

         3. We start practicing the newly created habit.

                   a. From then on, every time there is a rainstorm, I get a blanket and cover myself and feel safer.
                   b. The blanket has nothing to do with the rain, but I have developed a habit of covering myself with a blanket any time it rains.
                   c. The new habit will continue until you replace it with a different one.

Is This the Same for Bad Habits, Addictions, Alcoholism, Pornography, Etc.?

         1. Yes. Bad habits start in the same manner, both conscious and unconscious.

         2. Example,

                   a. Maria was thirteen years old when her father sexually molested her.
                   b. When she went to her mother to complain, her mother accused her of lying.
                   c. Maria became angry with her mother and father.
                   d. She became depressed; she would isolate herself, and she would often lash out with anger outbursts.
                   e. At age 15, she met Juan, who introduced her to Marijuana.
                   f. From the first time Maria tried the drug, she realized she did not think of the molestation by her father and the rejection by her mother.
                   g. She realized that when she smoked the plant, her fears and anxieties melted away.
                   h. From then on, every time she got the opportunity to smoke, she did.
                   i. She now has a habit, not an addiction.
                   j. It was a conscious decision, which she is happily practicing and repeating.

         3. When someone chooses to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, they are doing the same.

                   a. People do not get “addicted” to Marijuana in the same manner that they do not get “addicted” to smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee.
                   b. Coffee contains nicotine (a drug), and coffee contains caffeine (a drug).
                   c. These are habits that look like addictions; all three also stimulate the brain to produce Dopamine.
                             • Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter.
                                       o Your body makes it (in the brain), and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells.
                                       o That's why it's sometimes called a chemical messenger.
                             • Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure.
                                       o It's a big part of our uniquely human ability to think and plan.
                                       o It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting (things we enjoy).
                             • Your body spreads it along four significant pathways in the brain.
                                       o Like most other systems in the body, you don’t notice it (or maybe even know about it) until there’s a problem.
                             • Too much or too little of it can lead to a vast range of health issues.

         4. Anyone can stop smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, or smoking Marijuana any time they choose; they just “don’t want to!”

How Can You Change a Habit?

         1. Keep in mind, just as you chose to start the original habit (conscious or not), you must now also select a new one with which to replace the old one.

                   a. Just thinking or saying, “’ I want to change this habit’ or ‘I am going to stop,’” will make no difference.
                             • Conscious intention does not always work.
                             • It has to become a need for you.
                             • It has to become a desire of yours.
                             • It has to become a heart intention.

         Galatians 6:7-8 (NASB) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

         Romans 12:1; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 30:21; Philippians 4:8; Deuteronomy 30:19; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 11:25; 1 Samuel 16:7.

         2. Sowing, as intended in these verses, is that desire that is in your heart, what you want.
                   a. The need, the desire, these are those that are the intention of your heart.
                   b. The message that your brain will get, causing it to begin working on you.

         3. Once you do this, you must then begin practicing the new habit.

                   a. You have to want it, and you will prove you do by practicing.
                   b. Remember that practicing is the “repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.”

The Most Important Ingredient for True Change

         1. We can try to change or break our habits by ourselves, or we can turn to the One who can truly bring change in us.

         Hebrews 12:2 (NASB) Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

         Romans 12:2 (NASB) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

         2. As children of the Lord, we have one more thing in our favor; He will do the work of changing us if we let Him.

                   a. Jesus is the One who can truly change us, as well, that is His job.
                   b. He does this through the work of the Holy Spirit.
                   c. He is better able to manipulate our brain into producing the right qualities, characteristics, habits, and so on, that He wants in us.
                   d. If we obey, we change.

         3. God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us with the changes that the Lord wants in our lives.

                   a. There are some things that we can all depend on the Holy Spirit to do for us.
                   b. He can help us to have a desire:
                             • To be holy like Him. 1 Peter 1:15-16
                             • To be free from bondage to live for Him. Galatians 5:1
                             • To live in sanctification. Hebrews 12:2
                             • For an actual personal change. Psalm 51:10-15

Finally, Some Points On Addiction.

         1. This term includes things like drug addictions, pornography, alcoholism, and so on.

         2. What is addiction?

                   a. Dictionary – “Physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.”
                   b. Dictionary – “Enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity.”
                   c. Different from cigarettes, coffee, or Marijuana, these people develop a “dependency” on their addiction of choice.
                             • If these people stop using or doing what they are addicted to, they will incur adverse effects or reactions.
                             • Some people who stop drinking coffee will also have adverse reactions.
                             • In their cases, they had an addiction to coffee.

         3. In regards to addiction, there is a specific step that one must take.

                   a. The person has to decide that they want to be sober more than they want to medicate themselves with their addiction of choice.
                   b. It is not enough for the person to want to quit; they must want to be free more than they want the addiction.

         4. In these cases, the person must also turn their life completely over to the Lord.
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