"Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit." (Prov. 25:28). "But the fruit of the Spirit is . . . self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23).
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, an addict is someone who has chronic brain disease resulting in pathological behavior from pursuing reward or relief from some substance of activity (abridged). From alcohol to shopping, anything and everything is becoming a "drug of choice" in America and hence, a "chronic brain disease."
But the bible has a different word for the root cause of this lack of self-control: idolatry.Swimming in this self-indulgent, reckless, hedonistic culture whose mantra is "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure" (Eccl. 2:10), it's no wonder most people are like cities without walls -- open to demonic invasion. Because whatever morally masters you is an idol -- and all idols by definition are worshiped. And whatever is worshiped that is not the true God, is a demon (1 Cor. 10:19-20).
Modern medicine wants to label all cravings in addictions as chemical reaction events, hence their label of disease as the problem and "therapy" as the solution. But the Bible is clear that the primary problem is that addicts have given themselves over to sensuality, and such self-indulgence is always associated with cravings for more, whether the drug of choice is cocaine or a soap opera. Because sin itself is a craving that, when fed, leads to further craving and tolerance. It cries, "Give! Give!" But it never says, "Enough!" (Prov. 30:15-16). (The Journal of Biblical Counseling; Vol. 19, No. 2)
So what is self-control? It's the miracle of Spirit-bearing fruit on one hand and the self-discipline to erect walls on the other. It's thinking before you act -- discerning the lie of sin to the mind that seeks to hijack normal desires and make them appear necessary to indulge (Rom. 6:12-13; Eph. 4:22). It's the refusal to worship anyone other than God, standing firm against the pride of self-reliance. It's planning before you act -- using accountability methods with others to help in the fight.
But most importantly, what every addict needs is the gospel -- the good news that where sin abounds (recurring, habitual addictions), grace abounds all the more. It's believing that God loves me in spite of all my shortcomings, that I don’t start with my obligations to God but with my promises from God. If self-control is a fruit of the Spirit it will only grow in an environment of grace, not guilt (Rom. 6:14). Something you won’t find in a pill -- nor in the DSM-5.