Understanding Addiction In The Bible

Addiction is not a modern-day condition of man. In fact, there are many passages in the Bible that talk about addiction and its spiritual consequences. What does the Bible say about addiction, and is it considered a sin?

If you’re a Bible-believing Christian or just someone who is curious to know, this post explains verses about substance abuse.

The concept of addiction dates as far back as when the first substance was invented. Historic records showed that man was already drinking alcoholic beverages as early as 9,000 years ago. Substances such as alcohol and drugs were part of culture and trade, and sometimes even deeply embedded in various national festivals and rituals.

This is why it is understandable that even the Holy Book of Christians, called the Bible, also contains themes that surround substance abuse and addiction. If you’re a practicing believer, or simply want to explore how the Christian faith perceives addiction, there are verses in the Bible that show us how God considers substance abuse. Additionally, the Bible also contains passages that encourage people to stay strong despite their addiction tendencies.

What the Bible Says About Drunkenness and Drunkards

Interestingly, the Bible does not prohibit drinking per se. When you look at passages in the book of John (John 2:1-11), you would notice that Jesus attended a wedding banquet and turned water into wine. This was considered Jesus’ first miracle, and a significant point at the beginning of His ministry. However, there is debate among different denominations of Christians whether or not the wine was alcoholic or Kedem grape juice;  a non-alcoholic staple of Jewish celebrations.

As such, the debate between being able to drink alcohol or not falls upon the interpretation of the reader and their personal belief. However, the Bible is very clear about excessive drinking, intoxication, the use of drugs, etc.

Drinking excessively (Romans 13:13)

The Bible detests drinking excessively as it causes a loss of control and indecent behavior. According to Romans 13:13, the Apostle Paul instructs believers in Romans to avoid “carousing and drunkenness”. In fact, it was listed in the same paragraph as sexual immorality and debauchery. These acts are considered indecent because it prevents Christians from displaying themselves as ambassadors of God.

Drinking as an act of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21)

Another aspect of drinking is shown in the Bible at the book of Galatians (Galatians 5:19-21). In these passages, drunkenness is considered an act of the flesh–which means that an individual who engages in excessive drinking does not fulfill the desires of God, but rather his or her sinful nature. The passage even ends by warning that those who do such things do not inherit God’s Kingdom.

It is pretty clear that the Bible condones the abuse of alcohol, as consistently lists drunkenness as indecent behavior and activities which show disobedience towards God.

What the Bible Says About Intoxication, Inebriation

Additionally, there are passages in the Bible that encourage “staying sober”. This is because Christians should have a sense of urgency when it comes to their faith since nobody knows when Jesus will return and proceed with His judgment of man. Below are some verses that refer to staying sober:

Having an alert mind (1 Peter 1:13)

Instead of engaging in rowdy behaviors or being intoxicated, believers are encouraged to have an alert mind and stay sober. An alert mind means away from the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances that do not encourage you to think clearly. These activities prevent believers from focusing on Jesus, especially when His Second Coming is fast approaching.

Avoiding the devil’s predation (1 Peter 5:8)

The Bible also mentioned the lack of sobriety as a way for the devil to hunt people who will fall into his snare. 1 Peter 5:8 warns that people who are not alert or sober can fall into the many traps of the evil one, eventually being devoured by sinful desires.

What the Bible Says About Drugs

If alcohol was explicitly mentioned in Scripture, how about drugs in the Bible? It is easy to argue or justify that other drugs aside from alcohol are okay, but practicing the Christian faith isn’t only about things that are or aren’t mentioned in the Bible.

Drugs and the Bible

True Christianity is all about the process of sanctification–this means that you rid yourself of thoughts and actions that do not glorify God in your life. A verse that clearly shows this is found in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Christians believe that once you take the path to follow God, the Third Person of the Godhead, who is the Holy Spirit, lives in you. This essentially means that God lives within you, and your body is considered His temple. A temple is considered a sacred place. Thus, activities such as drug use, which harm your mental and physical health, isn’t something that glorifies His temple.

In summary, if you’re asking, “Is doing drugs a sin?” The simple answer is yes. It harms your body, mind, and spirit, which means that substance abuse isn’t a way to glorify God.

Verses from the Bible that Help with Addiction

The wonderful thing about the Bible and the Christian faith is that it doesn’t just list out things that you’re not allowed to do–it also provides you with an empowerment on how to deal with these sinful traps. Although drunkenness, drugs and the Bible aren’t terms in agreement with each other, there are passages that encourage believers to break free, stay on track, or go back to staying sober:

Psalm 27:4-6

The Psalmist in this chapter talks about how God will redeem him even the most troublesome of moments. When people struggle with addiction, feelings of isolation and loneliness often take over. However, this verse shows us that God is able to “hide us in His shelter” and “conceal us in the cover of His tent”. When we trust God, we can be assured that He will protect us and keep us secure. We are never lonely when we call out to Him because His presence is all around us.

John 16:33

These words of Jesus are very powerful because it gives believers the hope they need in times of uncertainty. Many think that the Christian faith automatically sets you free from pain and suffering. This is not the promise found in the Bible. The verse found in the Book of John reminds us that trouble is a guarantee of life. However, when we trust in Jesus, we can have peace that goes beyond circumstances, even if it’s struggling with addiction or life in general. We can have confidence as Jesus has said that He has overcome the world.

Peter 3:11

Addictions often drive us to do things that make us disobey God. These things may include lying about our habits, stealing money, having ill-tempered manners towards our loved ones, and many others. The Bible warns us in this verse to “turn away from evil and do good”. This is related to the verses mentioned earlier because the only way we can have a solid relationship with God and receive peace is when we wholeheartedly obey what He says.

James 4:10

Having substance abuse problems can also be an issue of pride. Sometimes, we are too proud to admit that we have a problem towards our loved ones and even towards God. However, the first step in reconciling with God and others is when we learn to humble ourselves. James 4:10 reminds us that those who are willing to humble themselves, admit their faults, and repent will be lifted up by God in due time.

Aligning Your Faith While Fighting Addiction

Addiction doesn’t have to be condition solely treated through medical means. Some people achieve their true purpose of staying sober by finding their faith. By reflecting on these verses, it is possible to reconnect with your spiritual self while beating addiction and surrendering your life to God.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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