Monday, May 08, 2006

Addiction: Spiritual, Physiological, and Psychological

The first part of this was posted originally at 8:29 PM May 6, 2006.


Was asked in the combox if I ever called it what it is.. Sin. Yes, I have. There is a point however, that a person loses the option of using the drug(s) of choice because it is NEEDED to feel normal. This is where the addiction comes in, along with a heavy dose of denial. Until that person realizes what that drug(s) is doing to him/her, and because of it, what he/she is doing to others, the actual drinking/drugging may not be 'sin' per se... but they are always accountable for their actions, sober or not.

At this point, it is necessary to recall that, according to Fr. John C. Ford, alcoholism is more than simply the concupiscence and self-will which afflict all the descendants of Adam and Eve. According to Ford, alcoholism is the pathological concentration of this self-will in a physico-spiritual bondage to alcohol-with the consequent loss of control and the inability to stop without outside help.

The Catholic apologist should therefore remember that he is upholding an analogy-not an identity-between alcoholism and original sin. Ford's approach is useful because he identifies alcoholism as a distinct problem existing also within a larger human and spiritual context. Ford agreed that the therapeutic and medical approach to alcoholism treatment is sometimes exaggerated.[ John C. Ford, "The Sickness of Alcoholism: Still More Clergy Education?" Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Nov. 1986, 15.]

He summed up his ideas and experience as follows: "I do not believe in telling an alcoholic, 'You are a sick man-you're not guilty of anything' because he is guilty of many things . . . But from a common-sense point of view we are often able to point out to an alcoholic . . . that his moral responsibility was considerably diminished. I believe in telling an alcoholic, 'Yes, you are a sinner, but your sins can be forgiven by the grace of Christ.'" [Ibid., 16.]

It is because of this fact that AA's 12 Steps include Steps 1,2, and 3... I can't (control my life, my addiction, my spouse, my child),
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ... that our lives had become unmanageable. He can (He is God and can do anything... )Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. , So I will LET Him... That third step is one we struggle with no matter who we are, addict or addicted to an addict. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of GOD as we understood Him.

The OLD TIMERS took that Third Step on their KNEES, just as Bill W did in the very beginning. On their knees, before God, admitting that they (we) were powerless, and needed Him in our lives, as Lord of Lord, King of Kings.

Step 4 is a very thorough Examination of Conscience...not just looking at the Sins, but also looking at the Moral side of ourselves (most have a very distorted picture of ourselves, and need to look at both sides in order to be able to let go completely and let God heal what needs to be healed). A Moral Inventory it is called. For many, this is a fearfilled Step, and they seem to think that it must take a LONG time to complete, in order to be accurate. For a Catholic, it can be done repeatedly, weekly, as God shows us where we have done wrong.
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

'THE FIFTH STEP" is one that most who work the 12 Steps know well. For many, it is simply taking the Moral Inventory and sitting with your Sponsor, and going through it, completely, hearing that there is nothing that you have ever done that would prevent you from becoming the person you were meant to be. Admitted to GOD, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. For a Catholic, this means hitting your knees in the Confessional.

The next several Steps continue there in the Act of Contrition:
Were entirely ready to have GOD remove all these defects of character.

The Old Timers also took the Seventh Step on their knees....
Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

Then comes the hard part, and that is part of the penance we may receive after our Confession. Even if it is not, anyone working the Program knows that we have hurt others by our behavior, whether we are the addict, or the person addicted to the addict (codependent, enabler). In humble reparation, we begin:
Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

This is not just a One Time thing, but is a continuous way of life in true sobriety, true recovery! We do a daily examination of conscience...and live the last three steps on a Daily Basis for the rest of our lives...

Step 10:
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

Step 11:
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with GOD as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will, and the power to carry that out.

Step 12:
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.

Fr Ed Dowling was a friend of Bill W, and told him that the 12 Step Program of AA was very similar to the Spirituality Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola!
Fr Dowling realized that those same 12 Steps could help anyone, and used them also for his Cana program.
Fr Martin did his Chalk Talks to help many recover.
Fr Jim Collins spent his life in recovery helping others to learn this way of life. His friend, Fr Fred, also spent his own recovery helping others.

Another way of explaining this is found here, part of which is printed below:

Another important, though somewhat later, Catholic influence on AA was Fr. John C. Ford, S.J., one of Catholicism's most eminent moral theologians. In the early forties, Ford himself recovered from alcoholism with AA's help. He became one of the earliest Catholic proponents of addressing alcoholism as a problem having spiritual, physiological, and psychological, dimensions.

Ford said that alcohol addiction is a pathology which is not consciously chosen, but he rejected the deterministic idea that alcoholism is solely a disease without any moral component: "[I]t obviously has moral dimensions, and that is one reason why the clergyman is thought to have a special role to play.

"To answer the question: Is alcoholism a moral problem or is it a sickness, I think the answer is that it is both. I don't think it is true to say that alcoholism is just a sickness, in the sense that cancer or tuberculosis are sicknesses. I think there are too many rather obvious differences between the two to classify alcoholism as a sickness in that sense. On the other hand, I don't think it is true either to say that alcoholism is just a moral problem. There are still a good many people who look at an alcoholic as a good-for-nothing with a weak will or one who doesn't use his willpower . ..

"They keep saying, 'Don't do it again,' over and over. I don't believe he does it just because he wants to do it or because he is willful. When you look at the agony that the alcoholic inflicts upon himself over the course of the years, it seems to me to be very difficult to say he wants to be that way or he does it on purpose. . . . I think it is fair to speak of alcoholism as a triple sickness-a sickness of the body, a sickness of the mind, and also a sickness of the soul." John C. Ford, "The Sickness of Alcoholism: Still More Clergy Education?", Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Nov. 1986: pp. 10, 12.

My point about Patrick Kennedy is that he has not been working the Program, he has not fully accepted the fact that he CANNOT use anything that is the least bit addictive, including, for most people, things that give the appearance/taste such as "Near Beer".

He said he had just been in treatment over Christmas of last year.... that 'recovery' was not a complete acceptance, apparently.

As for his father's role in all of this.... he seems to point to Joan Kennedy's 'problem', he states he is proud of his son for admitting he needs help (and not wanting to cast any was a very well-timed realization)... but he seldom realizes that when one points at another person with one finger, there are at least three pointing back at yourself. He has a history of his own, complete with dishonesty, that did result in a death of another human being.

He has his own amends to make.


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