Sin or Disease?

As the war on drug abuse continues to lose ground, as did the war in Vietnam under President LBJ, Bible based programs to help addicts overcome their life destroying behavior continue to step up to the plate to better deal with the problem.

Recently, an open meeting to help people overcome their addictions was started at Oxford Valley Chapel in Fairless Hills, PA. The leader refuted the common mantra that addiction is a disease. He showed clips of politicians and drug rehabs spouting this lie.

Calling drug addiction a disease is a marketing tool used by snake oil salesmen.

One of the participants honestly asked questions about the conventional wisdom disease related model for drug, alcohol, and other addictions. One participant spoke of the power of God who can give you the power to overcome problems.

If an addiction is a disease, then addicts are not responsible for their behavior. If addictions are rightly looked at as sin, then Jesus will help us overcome this sin, and we will be healed, made whole.

The Bible, God’s Word tells us how to overcome sin, which destroys us:  “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”  Ephesians 4:22-24

Critics of the disease theory, as reported on Wikipedia, say the disease theory, which is applied to drug and alcohol abuse “exists only to benefit the professionals’ and governmental agencies responsible for providing recovery services, and the disease model has not offered a solution for those attempting to stop abusive alcohol and drug use.”

All The King’s Horses And All The King’s Men Can’t Put Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again

Some critics of the disease model argue alcoholism still involves choice, not total loss of control, and stripping alcohol abusers of their choice, by applying the disease concept, is a threat to the health of the individual; the disease concept gives the substance abuser an excuse. A disease cannot be cured by force of will; therefore, adding the medical label transfers the responsibility from the abuser to caregivers. Inevitably the abusers become unwilling victims, and just as inevitably they take on that role. They argue that the disease theory of alcoholism exists only to benefit the professionals’ and governmental agencies responsible for providing recovery services, and the disease model has not offered a solution for those attempting to stop abusive alcohol and drug use.

These critics hold that by removing some of the stigma and personal responsibility the disease concept actually increases alcoholism and drug abuse and thus the need for treatment. This is somewhat supported by a study which found that a greater belief in the disease theory of alcoholism and higher commitment to total abstinence to be factors correlated with increased likelihood that an alcoholic would have a full-blown relapse (substantial continued use) following an initial lapse (single use). However, the authors noted that “the direction of causality cannot be determined from these data. It is possible that belief in alcoholism as a loss-of-control disease predisposes clients to relapse, or that repeated relapses reinforce clients’ beliefs in the disease model.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disease_theory_of_alcoholism

Drug abuse and alcohol abuse have a common root: A character flaw. Some 12 Steps programs, which by the way have historically been very successful, combine healing from drug and alcohol abuse with other problems. What’s said about alcohol abuse can be said about drug abuse.

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. …”   -Proverbs 23:29-35

At the shared meals for the homeless and needy in Bucks County, PA I’ve noticed signs for 12 Steps programs.

There are a few other, walk in programs to help people overcome their addictions in the greater Bucks County area:

Breaking The Chains of Addiction, a faith based group that helps people overcome their addictions, meets at First Baptist Church in Morrisville, PA, 50 Pennsylvania Avenue, Tuesdays, at 7 p.m.  Breaking The Chains also meets in South Philly at Third Baptist Church, 2400 S. Broad St Fridays at 7 p.m.

Celebrate Recovery, a national program that helps people overcome drug and alcohol addictions as well as other problems, has a few chapters not far from Bucks County.  Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. New Life Presbyterian Church, 425 East Roosevelt Blvd. In North East Philly hosts Celebrate Recovery.

http://newlifephilly.net/celebrate-recovery

The church needs to bring light to the world, helping to restore broken people.

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi 

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace! That where there is hatred, I may bring love. That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness. That where there is discord, I may bring harmony. That where there is error, I may bring truth. That where there is doubt, I may bring faith. That where there is despair, I may bring hope. That where there are shadows, I may bring light. That where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted. To understand, than to be understood. To love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.”

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “

-Matthew 5:13-16

Not My Fault!

“Mr. Speaker, Carlos’ life – and his death – cast a bright light on the fact that addiction is nothing short of a chronic disease,” said Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick on the floor of the house of representatives in the context of an executive order to fight drug abuse and the opioid crisis.

Carlos was one of 185 deaths by overdoses in Bucks County, PA in 2016.

http://levittownnow.com/2017/04/07/fitzpatrick-shares-story-local-opioid-overdose-applauds-presidents-executive-order/

As long as drug abuse is treated as a disease, we will not win the war on drug and opioid abuse.

Treating drug abuse as a disease absolves the user from responsibility. In the 12 Steps program, which historically has been successful in having people overcoming their chronic, debilitating problems, starts: “1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18″

“Calling drunkenness a ‘disease’ or a ‘sickness’ rather than a ‘sin'”, wrote pastor and counselor Jay E Adams, “may seem to them a gracious act, but it is just the opposite. You cannot be more gracious than God. To call drunkenness a ‘sickness’ is to take away hope; there is no pill that will cure such a ‘disease’. But if, as the Bible says, drunkenness is a sin, then there is real hope, because Christ Jesus came not only to free us from the penalty but also from the power of sin.” (Solving Marriage Problems, p14)

In his blog in Psychology Today, Lance Dodes MD argues that drug abuse is not a disease and addresses the implications of this stance: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-heart-addiction/201112/is-addiction-really-disease

On Dr. Adams’ website, the notion of drug abuse, and by extension, mental problems being a disease is addressed:

“Mental Illness

Posted on August 22, 2016 by Donn R Arms

Folks let’s get this straight. The mind is not a physical organ. It cannot have a disease, illness, or injury in anything other than a metaphorical sense such as a sick economy or a sick joke.

Typhoid fever — disease
Spring fever — not a disease
Scarlet fever — disease
Bieber fever — not a disease”

Problems can’t be solved unless you get to the root of the problem. At the community meals for the homeless and those in need, in Bucks County, a few people despoil the meals by taking an inordinate amount of items. One character, Birdman, has gone from table to table, while people are still eating and loots what was set out for others as well as tries to fill pitchers he brings from beverage containers that are for everyone.

On one occasion, when I shooed him away when he tried to loot food at my table, I told him he was annoying. “What’s the problem?,” he asked, clueless. “Nobody else has a problem” with what he was doing, he added. Immediately, someone chirped “I do!”  On another occasion Birdman asked me how he annoys me. I told him that I’ll treat that as a rhetorical question. For those of you in Doylestown, a rhetorical question if a question for which you don’t want an answer.

At another meal, a guy who was homeless but was then in county assisted housing said that Birdman’s behavior is a normal consequence of being homeless or in need. I disagree. Your status or situation should not determine your behavior. I don’t buy the Curly of The Three Stooges’ thesis “I’m a victim of soy cum stances!”

Whether your talking drug abuse or any other problems, to overcome them you must stop making excuses. One bad, sinful problem I’m working on is unforgiveness, harboring resentment against people who grossly wronged me. I wish I could just take a pill, wave a magic wand, or drink a Coke and I and the rest of the world will sing in perfect harmony. Life doesn’t work that way. It’s not a disease but a moral failing which I’ve been working on and have made progress, slowly but surely.

Blaming others is counterproductive.

Here’s a folk song about blaming others:

“I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed

To find out why I killed the cat and blacked my husband’s eyes.

He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find,

And here is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind:

When I was one, my mommie hid my dolly in a trunk,

And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.

When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,

And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.

At three, I had the feeling of ambivalence toward my brothers,

And so it follows naturally I poison all my lovers.

But I am happy; now I’ve learned the lesson this has taught;

That everything I do that’s wrong is someone else’s fault.”

More about being responsible: https://www.gospelway.com/religiousgroups/psychology.php