What’s Your Poison?

I have a friend who is an alcoholic. He says, “I have an addictive personality.That’s just the way I am.”

OK. But that’s not really an excuse. I tried to sympathize by saying, “So you’re addicted to booze. That’s a bad addiction. But why are you addicted to booze? What does it do for you?”

The whole story came out about how booze made him feel better and how it made him feel strong and confident and happy. The more I thought about the dynamics of addiction it seemed to me that everybody has some sort of an addiction. We are all “addictive personalities” in one way or another and our American society is an addictive society big time.

Its just that some addictions are physically destructive. Some addictions are illegal. Some addictions are socially shameful. Some addictions lead to violence and crime and terror. But there are other addictions which are socially acceptable. In fact our society rewards some addictions. Geesh, we give honorary doctorates and all sorts of awards to some of our addicts.

Greed, unquenchable greed is a heady addiction just as much as any drug. Gaining and exercising power is a rush inducing addiction. Sexual conquest and sexual pleasure is an addiction. Materialism is an addiction. All of these things can enslave you.

As the Brits say when asking what you want for a drink, “What’s your poison?”

What are some other addictions: The addiction to the approval of others, the addiction to the love of our family and friends, the addiction to being right all the time no matter what, the addiction to being smarter than everybody else, the addiction to adventure and thrill, the addiction to someone else looking after us. The list goes on.

I’d say an addiction is anything we rely on other than God. Even your religion can be an addiction if it is a substitute for God.

There is only one antidote to the poison of your choice: The Divine Mercy.

Only the Divine Mercy can fill the void within you which you seek to fill with your particular poison. Only the Divine Mercy can miraculously cure you of your addiction. Only the Divine Mercy can complete you.

 

 

  • http://fireoftheirlove.blogspot.co.uk/ Shadowlands

    “I’d say an addiction is anything we rely on other than God.”

    Self will, run riot.

    Not my will, but thine, be done.

    Easier than it sounds, surrendering one’s will. Jesus sweated blood with it, He is God.
    I need His power working in me, to enable me to surrender mine. All I am required to bring is a desire to surrender. Even that desire in itself is a gift, a moment of clarity or Mercy, as you say.

    • http://notes-from-off-center.com drewtatusko

      Well said. These are basic 12 Step principles and sayings. As a recovering alcoholic I know them well. ODAAT.

  • http://www.concernedforlife.blogspot.com Julie Culshaw

    I have a friend who is an alcoholic, there is no doubt about that. But she doesn’t seem to take any responsibility for her actions. Going to Mass, receiving Communion, asking God to heal her of her addiction – I am tempted to ask her if there might not be some sin involved in her drinking.
    Damian Thompson ventures to talk about this in his book on addiction, your post makes me wonder if you have read it. He just might be challenging the old line that addiction is a disease, thus absolving people of responsibility for their actions. Here is the link.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100162313/do-you-think-alcoholism-isnt-really-a-disease-careful-youll-be-branded-as-a-heretic/

    • http://notes-from-off-center.com drewtatusko

      “But she doesn’t seem to take any responsibility for her actions.” She is someone to pray for and I don’t mean that in a condescending way. In my 12 step program it is very clear that without rigorous honesty any attempt at real sobriety will fail. This is all so that an alcoholic will learn to tell him or herself the truth. Unfortunately we have to be broken beyond any ability to pick ourselves up for that to happen. Interesting isn’t it? In order to “walk the broad highway” of the Spirit, we have to die first. As Simone Weil wrote those who suffer affliction are closer to God than most people. Christianity is a total paradox. It is through defeat that we are made complete.

  • Merkn

    I don’t think it’s really that complicated. Addictions are stem from disordered desires that we respond to intemperately. As you point out they can arise from any number of things. There is nothing wrong with taking a drink; if you can’t control yourself, however, you shouldn’t have one. I don’t mean it’s easy; just that it’s not all that complicated. At the end of the day, saying I have an addictive personality is just saying I am intemperate. But we don’t talk that way because we resist discussion of our shortcomings in terms of sin and personal responsibility. The “disease” terminology is a way of avoiding moral judgment. The funny thing is if you read the AA 12 Steps it is a watered down version of Catholic moral theology 101. Admit your sins, confess them to another, avoid the occasion of sin, go spread the word. Place your trust in God, and turn it over. The reason I say it’s funny, is my understanding of the evidence in the field is that AA and its steps are generally shown to be effective by the empirical evidence.

  • http://fireoftheirlove.blogspot.co.uk/ Shadowlands

    “I have a friend who is an alcoholic, there is no doubt about that. But she doesn’t seem to take any responsibility for her actions. Going to Mass, receiving Communion, asking God to heal her of her addiction – I am tempted to ask her if there might not be some sin involved in her drinking.”

    Why not check out Al-Anon first? http://www.ola-is.org/
    In order to help you deal with your problems and temptation to accuse of sin that you mention, regarding your friend’s possible alcoholism?

  • http://fireoftheirlove.blogspot.co.uk/ Shadowlands

    “Damian Thompson ventures to talk about this in his book on addiction……………………….He just might be challenging the old line that addiction is a disease, thus absolving people of responsibility for their actions. ”

    Or maybe he’s just being controversial in order to sell his book?

    • Matt

      No, he’s an alcoholic; I doubt he’s doing it to simply boost sales.

      • http://fireoftheirlove.blogspot.co.uk/ Shadowlands

        I know he’s an alcoholic but if you sober up a horse thief, he’ll still steal horses. Not that I’m suggesting Damion would ever consider stealing a horse but his living is selling what he writes, isn’t it? It will have a bearing on how he promotes his wares.

        Don’t get me wrong, I might even buy his book.

        • Matt

          Well yeah, and I think getting a new message out there is important to him. I think I might buy it too.

  • AnneG

    Addiction used to have a medical definition based in physiological and biochemical measurements. The diagnosis of Addiction has been distorted to the point that literally anything can be chalked up to addiction. I understand that the effort was to help dispel the stigma of alcohol abuse, but calling everything addiction has taken the vision off of responsibility, confession, conversion and healing. Yes, Divine Mercy is the only way to wholeness.

  • http://tsahaylu.blogspot.com/ Beth(Jan Marie)

    Thank you so much Father. This was for me.
    And I’ve shared it too.

  • John

    Father Dwight, this was a good and challenging post. You’ve mentioned in the past that you’ve begun the Divine Mercy devotion–when you feel like it and have space,might you expand on why you think it is valuable, and perhaps give some tips for people like me who are attracted by the idea of praying the Chaplet but don’t know how or where to begin? I know you have a zillion competing priorities, but I’d find your thoughts valuable.

    Thanks; read the blog often, and always go away smiling or thoughtful. Pax Christi.

  • Jane Wallace

    Perhaps we are seeing addiction to being right displayed here. It’s just possible Damien Thompson wrote what he did because he believes it. And believes it to be of value to others.

    • http://fireoftheirlove.blogspot.co.uk/ Shadowlands

      Jane Wallace said:
      “Perhaps we are seeing addiction to being right displayed here.”
      Displayed in your comment do you mean Jane?

      “It’s just possible Damien Thompson wrote what he did because he believes it. And believes it to be of value to others.”

      Well if the book was free, I would agree with you, but it’s not. AA and the twelve steps, on the other hand, are. I believe he got sober in AA. For free. Freely receive, freely give. that’s what Jesus said, wasn’t it?

  • Jane Wallace

    Oh certainly–Quite possibly on display in mine and quite possibly on display in yours as well! Those of us who engage in debate rather like being on the “winning” side of things, don’t we? I just wonder why it is necessary to ascribe ulterior motives to Thompson rather than discuss the merits of what he says. Nor am I clear why his failing to give the book away (they are given to the recipient in AA but someone has to pay for them) is any measure of the merits of his argument. He’s a writer–that’s how he makes a living, by selling books, just as I make mine by working at my job and you make your living doing whatever it is you do. Presumably some folks find value in what I do and what you do–and that is how we justify our take-home pay. I believe that you will also find “the worker is worth his wage” in Jesus’ comments. In either case, I am not sure Christ was talking about the necessity of giving away a book that is a discussion of the relative merits and problems of alcoholism as a disease rather than a disordered desire or as some combination of both when He made either of those statements.

    • http://fireoftheirlove.blogspot.co.uk/ Shadowlands

      Actually Jane, you are right. I maybe have been too judgmental with all of this. Genuinely, thank you for pointing that out.
      God bless!
      Ros

  • Elleblue

    The minute ‘addiction’ is added to a behavior then no one feels they have to take responsibility for their behaviors. Behind every addiction is unmet desires or feelings. Deal with these and the additction label can be dispensed with. I’m not saying it’s easy however it’s necessary if people want to take control over their lives.

    • ragtopponygirl

      I’ve spent a LOT of time in AA rooms and I have never heard anyone even suggest not taking responsibility for both their addiction and the harms they caused while drinking.

      • Oregon Catholic

        …plus acknowledging powerlessness to control their lives and their own best thinking/efforts got them where they are. Elleblue has got it all backwards.


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