I've been thinking about addictive patterns a lot. It's not a new topic for me--it's the psych major thing. I've looked at it from all kinds of angles: the genetic angle, the substance abuse model, blah blah blah. It keeps coming back to one thing. Addictive behavior is really about idols, and idols are about unmet needs for peace and safety.
I know what treatment for addiction means. It works the same whether it's a substance abuse problem or something else. It involves "detox" and steering clear of the problematic thing. That's a good starting place when the thing is destroying a person's life. But it doesn't solve the addiction problem. So what does?
God does, and God knows all about addictions. "Don't get drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit." I've actually been thinking about this for a while. In a way, I've had my own addictions--and yes, some of those addictions involve spending time with friends. Interestingly, I've run across studies showing that wine use in moderation has some medical benefit. Obviously, so does time with friends. Where is the line between choosing how I use my time and addiction/idolatry?
Something Madeleine says in Penguins comes to mind. "If it must be mine, it's an idol." Similarly, if I can't survive emotionally without it, it's an idol. America likes to call these things addictions; and we love to point out other people's addictions while nursing our own. One of the articles I have suggests that addiction is actually a normal problem but that there are "socially acceptable" addictions and levels of addiction.