What is an addiction? In general, an addiction is a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual disorder in which a person is unable to stop repeating unhealthy behaviors despite it causing them harm and also hurting those they care about. Addictive tendencies are part of human nature. Traces of this can be seen in the bible when Eve chose to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit, despite the harm this would cause. Another feature of addiction is that it is an attempt to avoid pain and seek pleasure despite the negative consequences.
Addictions can take many forms since it can involve any behavior that a person cannot stop and causes harm. Types of addictions can include:
- Drug addiction (including marijuana, sedatives, meth, cocaine, heroin, pills)
- Nicotine addiction
- Prescription medications (opioids, heroin, morphine, oxycontin, oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl)
- Sex addiction/Pornography
- Compulsive overeating and food addictions
- Internet/IT addiction
Addictions are very common, as it is part of our human nature to seek pleasure and avoid pain, and we tend to go to extremes. Most of us spend our lives trying to find and practice a healthy balance between indulging in pleasurable activities and disciplining ourselves to persevere in difficult activities that we know are good for us. We all struggle with these choices every day and we all have areas in our lives we are having difficulty making changes in that would make us healthier. That’s why making “New Year’s resolutions” is so popular!
After many years studying addictions, researchers have found that there are no consistent predictors of addiction. Anyone can become a victim as it afflicts people of all ages, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and religious backgrounds. Yes, even devout Christians can fall prey to this devastating disease.
Where the normal struggle between healthy and unhealthy choices crosses the line and becomes an addiction is when a person loses control over their behavior and continues the unhealthy behavior even though it causes them and others harm. This is often despite their strong desire to control the behavior and stop before it causes harm. Loss of control is the hallmark of addiction. The primary struggle the addict experiences is trying to change this fact. Much of their daily activities and mental focus is on trying to regain control and prevent the harm that comes from their addiction. However, addiction is a powerful disease, and without treatment the person cannot overcome its influence. Despite their best efforts and intentions, their lives become a series of failed attempts at changing their behavior and regaining control yet they find themselves falling into the same patterns again and again.
These repeated unhealthy behaviors take a toll on the person in many ways. Over time these result in damage to their mental and physical health resulting in unintended weight changes, deterioration of their physical appearance, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. They become withdrawn and irritable, avoiding people and dropping out of activities they previously enjoyed.
Jesus brings good news, as there is hope and healing to be found. Through his forgiveness and abundant grace, He brings joy to our sorrows and desires for us to be healed through his mercy.
Catholic Addiction Medicine positions itself uniquely by providing proper evaluation, treatment, and ongoing support to aid in one’s recovery. In Catholicism, addiction is viewed as a direct threat to both a person’s physical body and their spiritual pathway into the kingdom of heaven. The most successful and effective treatment plans for patients needing these areas of expertise require elements of Christian and Catholic spirituality. Christian addiction treatment programs integrate religion to find the root cause of these addictive behaviors and ultimately, find healing through a strong relationship with Christ. At MyCatholicDoctor, we recognize that your best chance for success in overcoming addiction is through the combination and integration of the most effective and proven treatment modalities available. As summarized by our Addiction Specialist, Dr. Leslie Massoglia:
“As a Catholic Addictionologist, I have observed that healing from addiction requires growth in spirituality through prayer and participation in the sacraments, along with treatment of the needs of the body which often requires medications to treat physical manifestations, therapy to address the psychological traumas associated with addictions, and other modalities such as support groups to address the social dysfunctions of addiction. Anything short of this combination is ineffective and eventually results in relapse.” – Leslie Massoglia, MD
MyCatholicDoctor provides a safe environment for recovery. As many addicts feel shameful of their addictions and want to seek help, they don’t want to tell anyone of their struggles. Telehealth appointments provide the opportunity to begin recovery working one-on-one with a physician right from your home. Support groups can be found online and there are many ways to stay connected during your recovery.
Finding a healthcare provider who shares your values and prioritizes your eternal well being is necessary for your recovery. God desires your soul to be healed, and we do too. Allow us to walk alongside you in that journey.