At the International Congress on Drugs and Addictions in 2018, Pope Francis described addiction as an “open wound in our society.”
Its victims, he said, “exchange their freedom for enslavement to a dependency that we can define as chemical.”
The Church has a role in combating the spread of addictions, Pope Francis said, devoting resources to prevention, care, rehabilitation and re-insertion, in order to restore dignity to people. The Church also recognizes the urgency of placing the human person at the center of the socio-economic-cultural discourse — a humanism founded on the “Gospel of Mercy.” This calls for pastoral action to alleviate, care for and heal the suffering caused by various forms of addiction, the Holy Father added.
Living Our Faith this week in the St. Louis Review explores alcohol addiction through spirituality. Charlie Backer shares his journey of recovery from addiction, including how he sought out spiritual healing. Within that, there can be an understanding of the role of demonic force in exacerbating human weaknesses.
“If I have a weakness, then the Evil One is going to take advantage of it the best he can,” said Jane Guenther, director of the Catholic Renewal Center, who has been a spiritual adviser to people facing addiction. “We say that the demon doesn’t cause the first drink. But the first drink opens the door to the Devil, making it worse, so to speak.”
The four deadly devices of Satan — otherwise known as the four Ds — are disappointment, doubt, discouragement and division. We’ve all dealt with these in some form in our lives. For someone in the midst of alcohol addiction — which has been researched as a genetic disease — those devices can become magnified.
Ministries such as the Healing and Deliverance Ministry of the archdiocesan Catholic Renewal Center can offer spiritual support, which should be approached alongside other resources focusing on the mental and physical health components.
Members of the Body of Christ also are called to offer support to our brothers and sisters who face addiction. We can achieve this through prayer, a kind or encouraging word, or even a listening ear. Most of all, we should convey to others that they are not alone in their road to recovery.
When we catch a glimpse into the hearts of those dealing with addiction, we can more easily be with them in their struggles. Only then can we be patient and compassionate guides to help them find their way through the darkness and into the light.