Fr. Salvador Gonzalez, OMI: “Hidden Addictions”
Originally Published in The Messenger, for Spanish-speaking people in the Diocese of Belleville Click here to read the article en Español
The definition of an addiction is a substance dependence or a certain behavior that controls a person. Have you ever heard the saying, “You see faces but you don’t know what is in their hearts”? This saying is true if applied to the many people who suffer from addictions. I say suffer because addiction is a disease that can be overcome.
Addictions can be divided into two groups: 1) addictions to substances (tobacco, alcohol, drugs, food and more) or 2) behavioral addictions (sex, food, gambling, lies, shopping, Internet)
At the beginning of an addiction the person believes that they can control what they are taking or what they are doing. But addictions are progressive. It is only a matter of time before the addiction will control and enslave the individual.
Addictions can happen because of several factors:
- To escape the world when a person cannot or will not face the reality of their own life – using addiction to escape the world.
- To reduce the stress in a person’s life.
- To escape pain and self-punishment due to remorse and unresolved grief for experiences in the past.
- To fill an emotional or spiritual need
Trust in God can do for us what we cannot do alone -break the vicious cycle of addiction.
If you know someone or if you yourself have an addiction here are some suggestions:
- Remember that addiction is controlling you- you have no power over it
- Remind yourself or your loved one that there is nothing hidden from God and that God already knows of your addiction. Psalm 139: 3-4: You discern my going out and my lying down, and all my ways are known. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord thou know it altogether.
- Identify the factors that led to the addiction such as stress or emotional pain
- Seek help. The situation will only worsen if an addict does not reach out for help from a priest, a counselor or a professional on the subject of addiction.
- If it’s a loved one, encourage them to pray with you. Remind him/her that God loves them, wants to forgive them, wants to help them break the addiction and to give back to them to a full, happy and free life.
Ezekiel 18: 21-22 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; in his righteousness that he will live.
John 3: 17-18: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned