Tackling addiction spiritually

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - September 29, 2016 - 12:00am

While addiction may have prominent biological or organic causes, we can not and should not forget that it too has spiritual causes. Man is a unity of  body and soul. How the bodily organism is certainly conditions one's spiritual soul. And vice-versa: the state of one's soul affects the body in some way.

We need to tackle the problem of  addiction on both sides, using the means and methods appropriate of each human dimension. We should not focus on one without considering the other.

While we can recommend some medicine, emotional and psychological counseling, physical therapy and exercises, and others for the bodily aspect of addiction, we should not forget to recommend the proper spiritual means to combat it: prayer, sacrifice, ascetical struggle, recourse to the sacraments, etc.

We should be clear, however, that of the two, the spiritual dimension has greater weight, because it is there where the whole global picture of  addiction is found-its causes, prevention and cure. The bodily dimension only captures a limited part of the whole picture. Addiction is a spiritual and moral problem more than just a medical one.

The spiritual dimension goes further beyond material, biological or organic causes. It goes further than just probing the attitudes and motives that lead to addiction.

In fact, it tries to identify the evil spirit behind such problem. It goes to the root cause and the ultimate cure, rather than just dealing with the symptoms and other inconvenient elements. It goes beyond merely giving palliatives.

I believe that the crisis that we are having today with respect to drug addiction only shows us that we are lagging behind in giving due attention to the spiritual aspect of this problem.

More than that, what we are having is the accumulated effect of decades and even of centuries of neglect in so far as our spiritual life is concerned. If  not neglect, then some anomalies be setting our pursuit of the spiritual life.

We are suffering the effect of  separating God from our personal life and temporal affairs, or of  treating him as irrelevant, a bother or at best a mere ornament in our personal lives and earthly affairs. We are suffering from the effect of  a secularized world culture.

We now need a lot of  making up and of doubling time to cope with the rapidly increasing challenges of our times. We have to look into how we can infuse the proper spiritual nourishment to persons, families, schools, offices, etc., as well as to our institutions, structures and systems-social, political, economic, police, legal and judicial, medical, etc.

It does not mean that by relating things to God we would be completely freed of problems in our life here on earth. We should never forget that we cannot avoid problems, since these are consequences of our condition that is weakened and wounded by sin.

But at least, when everything is related to God, we would still find meaning and purpose in our problems and sufferings. We could still find hope in the worst of scenarios. Our suffering becomes redemptive, rather than just destructive.

Obviously, this spiritual attitude toward the problem should in no way undermine or compromise whatever human care we ought to give to this predicament. But the human aspect, like the medical, police, legal and judicial aspects, etc., would not be truly human if not infused with the proper spirit.

I believe this is where most of the problem with regard to this issue arises. Our spiritual leaders may not yet be up to the challenge. Most individuals and their families are still awkward about this matter. Our civic and political leaders find it hard to blend spirituality in their field of competence.

We have to start somewhere, and that means that each one of us should just find ways of how to enliven his spiritual life in such a way that it can effectively grapple with this drug problem of ours.

Toward this end, we all need to pray, and start to study, make consultations, come up with certain strategies, each one doing his best according to his competence and possibilities.


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