Published here with permission from The MOORE REPORT INTERNATIONAL - January/February 2003

The Moore Foundation, Box 1, Camas, WA 98607

What's Wrong With My Child Having An Addiction?

by Ellen Dana

A conversation with one of our educational counselors brought this question from a client, "What's wrong with my daughter having an addiction?" The discussion centered around the consideration of what type of reading to recommend to a student in the family. Her daughter's compulsive bent toward a total immersion in reading high adventure and romantic fiction made the educational counselor suggest that such an addiction could be harmful to her daughter. Though the question surprised us, we decided that it is a good question, and one that deserves an answer.

Before we consider the answers, we need to define addiction. In the medical world, Stedman's Medical Dictionary defines an addiction as "habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice that is beyond voluntary control." Society in general has no problem identifying the big name physical addictions like alcoholism, nicotine and drug misuse. However, when it comes to some of the less dramatic addictions - such as chocolate, tea, or overeating, some people tend to argue. But when the individual cannot leave one of the flagrant or lesser-considered addictions alone, it demonstrates the addictive element of the product -- where a habit is not under voluntary control.

The real trouble with addictions then, whether physical or mind related, is the lack of voluntary control. In other words, the mind, the citadel of our being, in an addicted person is not in control over the body, as God designed it should be. Instead, the body is doing whatever it wants, mentally or physically, feeding on whatever it likes without reason being in charge. If this is a student yet in his formative years, it soon becomes very apparent that he will not be helpful and productive in physical work, and his study habits will be weak or non-existent. We have noticed at Moore Academy that many students who were once creative and helpful became non-creative in their school work when they began reading high adventure or romantic fiction. They began resisting physical work, even to the point of being sullen and non-cooperative when pulled from their favorite book to help in the home. If educational projects are completed at all, they tend to be sloppily done, hap-hazard and much below the ability of the student.

That's hardly what we want to see in our children. Most of us want to see our children making right choices, becoming responsible adults who care for their families and are good citizens and neighbors. We encourage them to make healthy choices at the different stages of their lives and ultimately desire them to marry responsible spouses, attending a church of their choice as born again Christians. Rather than being lazy and expecting others to wait on them they are taught to be of service to their family, church and community. We include them in the care of family, home and church, seeking to develop a healthy attitude of selflessness rather than feeding their own selfish desires.

In opposition to the selfish mind set of the world, Moore Academy proposes that our greatest desire is to see our students be of service in this world for the good of others and be preparing to be citizens of heaven. Only as each person surrenders to the lordship of Jesus Christ can this happen; it will not happen if addictions rule, for they are the opposite of surrender. Instead, self and self-serving reigns. Holy, inspired energy to do right is literally sapped from the body, when the mind is not consulted as to what is good, right or valued.

Is this lack of self-discipline and bent to continue the obsession of the only result of addictive behavior? No, it produces a person without the power to make other good decisions, or if good decisions are made, then there is no power to carry them to conclusions. Addiction to one thing in a person's life weakens moral resolve in all other areas. The way is opened for the child or adult to more easily succumb to temptations in other areas, whether physical or mental.

What is the remedy?

For a physical addiction:

  1. Let the student know you are concerned, that you are praying that he will accept the freedom from habits that are weakening his will. Let him know you understand the battle.
  2. Pray with the student and let him know you will be continuing to pray for his complete surrender to God.
  3. Initiate a program that replaces the addiction with something better. If it is pop drinking for example, begin an aggressive water-drinking routine.
  4. Try fresh vegetable or fresh fruit combinations one hour before mealtime to assist the body in regaining good nutrition to the cells.
  5. Encourage plenty of physical exercise, rest, and fresh air.

For a psychological addiction like novel and fiction reading:

  1. Same as #1 above.
  2. Same as #2 above.
  3. Initiate a scheduled day that includes a variety of activities with service in the home, working for pay if possible, encouraging interesting outdoor activities and planned events, family worship, church and community service. Homeschool time should be as varied and interesting as possible.
  4. Read up to an hour with the child from wholesome character-building materials.
  5. Encourage plenty of physical exercise, possibly with siblings or friends--walking, biking, skate boarding or simple games.

For mental-emotional addictions like reading racy, stimulating story-books, or watching suggestive movies:

  1. Put Bible reading at the top of the list for the day; no other books or papers allowed until you have spent time with the Creator of the Universe. Ask for His blessing on your Bible reading and for a hunger to know Him as a personal Friend and Savior.
  2. Find more to do for others if your own work and study is not enough to keep you busy. Put others and their needs before yourself. This can be others in the home, or those in the community or church family.
  3. Allow only true stories in your specified recreational reading period--perhaps within an hour before time for sleep.
  4. When reading biographies and other educational stories, be sure to do something with the book. Make something, build something, do some research--something to make it a true educational experience.

If you perceive that your home is in need of help and reinforcement for learning new habits, we urge you to purchase the All Power Seminar video tapes now available from Moore Foundation. The speaker for All Power is Leo Schreven, a dynamic young speaker who will keep even your middle elementary youngsters riveted to their seats. Leo will pull no punches with those habits and concerns that need to be addressed in your family. You will want to see this electrically-charged seminar more than once. Workbook included.

May your home become all that God designed it should be--a home where the children are learning to keep their minds in control of their lives, and where everyone works together in this little heaven in which to prepare for our heavenly, eternal home.