Have you ever heard the phrase “Once an addict, always an addict”?
If you’ve been around any recovery program, you probably have.
Whereas the intentions of this statement are well aimed, they are still misguided. We’re not trying to criticize those who say this. Nor are we seeking to condemn those who believe it. But we do want to challenge the thought and seek what God has to say about it.
But first, why? Why would we even want to challenge what has largely been accepted as factual in regard to addicts and recovery?
The reason is because of the implications of the statement. If “Once an addict, always an addict is true,” then hope of transformation is lost.
If we will always be addicts, then why even try to change?
The answer is because change is in fact possible, and “Once an addict, always an addict,” isn’t actually true.
In fact, the Word of God tells us the exact opposite – that once an addict, you don’t have to be one anymore. That change is possible. And that you can have a completely new identity.
There are 3 important verses of Scripture that emphasis these truths.
Let’s look into what they have to say together.
The Past Has Passed
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
In this first point, we will address the past. It happened. We did it. Now, it’s over.
Do we assume that once a cancer victim, always a cancer victim? No, there are people who get cancer, overcome it, then change. Do they introduce themselves 10 years later as cancer victims? Of course not.
Why? Because it happened in the past. And “old things have passed away.”
Likewise, addicts may feel they will always be victims of their past. They think their identity is linked to what they used to do.
The truth, however, is that the past has passed. And we can move past it.
We Are Not Now What We Used to Be Then
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived… drunkards… will [not] inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NKJV)
This is a powerful part of Scripture. Here, we clearly see that people used to be drunkards (or addicts), but now they are not.
“Such were some of you,” but now you have been “washed” and “justified” by Christ.
If we “were” addicts, that means that now we no longer are.
What we did yesterday is what we did. It is not who we are.
Transformation Is Possible
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” -Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
To say that we will always be what we used to do misaligns with what Christ says about us here. In this verse, He tells us to be transformed. To be changed. To be made new.
Would God tell us to do something that is impossible for us to do?
Since He would not, His telling us to be transformed is a clear indicator that doing so is possible.
Therefore, we must see that the past has passed. Today is a new day and we don’t have to be defined by what we did. We can shed off that old identity and become new people in Christ. We can be transformed. We can be changed.
Therefore, “once an addict, after Christ, no longer an addict.”