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Pastoral Counseling - Lesson 02

by Dr. Ray Self




Click the play button to begin video lesson and follow along with the class notes below the video window. When you complete this video, click the "Lesson Assignment" button at the bottom of this page to open the lesson assignment.


Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.

The addictive cycle:

  • Inner pain, unresolved painful issues, denial
  • Desire to escape or to not feel
  • Medication administered such as drugs, alcohol, etc
  • Guilt and shame
  • More pain, new problems
  • Desire to escape and not feel
  • More medication
  • The cycle continues to repeat and worsen

The problems, without intervention, will get worse.

Chemical addictions are progressive. The progression of the disease is like cancer; some people will progress rapidly, some slowly, but each will continue to get worse without help.

Chemical addiction can be a fatal disease.

Hitting Bottom

Bottom is the place that most chemically addicted persons will eventually get to.
  • Bottom can be described as a terrible place of great loss.
  • These loses can be bankruptcy, divorce, home, family, job and all self-worth.
  • Bottom is the place wherein most chemically addicted people are most likely to cry out for help.


Denial is an unwillingness to face reality and admit the truth. Denial is deadly.
  • Denial can be described as living the lie, because the truth is too painful to face.
  • Denial can be a hard place to come away from because the mind is using denial as a defense to avoid painful reality.
  • Denial can also invade the family and friends.

Pastoral counseling brings the truth into every situation. John 8:32 - And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Without an acknowledgement of the problem it will be difficult to help the individual (not impossible, because of the Lord, but very difficult).

The Eoot Cause of Addictions is Unresolved Pain.

Painful experiences enter the subconscious and remain there and fester like cancer until they are rooted out.

The addictions must be dealt with, but remember they are only a cover-up for deeper problems.

Pastoral Counselors Deal with Two Types of Pain
  • The beginning pain that started the addiction.
  • The new pain that the addiction caused.

With addictions always comes plenty of shame and guilt.

Shame and guilt must be resolved or the pain will never leave and the craving to medicate will stay.

The finished work of Christ is the answer for shame and guilt - Isaiah 54:4 - Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth.

Isa 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.

The Family

The family can suffer as much and even more than the handicapped member.
  • The person with the addiction will become the center of all attention.
  • The family will become so focused on trying to solve the problem that they will totally neglect the needs of each member.
  • The family will try desperately to fix the addicted one.
  • The members of the family cannot fix the problem.

The family members must get the focus back on themselves or they will also drown.
  • Two people drowning are of no benefit to each other.
  • The family must learn how to “Let go and let God.”

The family may need as much counseling as the addicted member.
  • Many families will be in denial that they themselves have a problem.
  • Anyone constantly exposed to the terrible behavior of an addicted person will be adversely affected.


Enabling is the removing of responsibility or natural consequences from another person.

A prophecy about the New Covenant found in Jeremiah 31:29-30 "In those days they will not say again, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge.' "But everyone will die for his own iniquity; each man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.”

God does not hold us responsible for another person’s sin. If we take responsibility for another’s sin then we can stand in the way of their forgiveness.

Enabling can feel like it is the loving thing to do and it is helping the person with the addiction, but actually it is very hurtful for the addict and the whole family.

The problems are deep and complex and are not automatically solved once the addiction stops.

A person may not be responsible for the addiction but, he or she is responsible to do something about it. There are many resources available for anyone who truly wants help.

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