A Failure of Faith?

Can a Faithful Person Become Addicted?

Dr. Ellis discusses the fact that very religious people of deep and genuine faith get sick, have accidents, die, and become addicted to drugs and alcohol. Faith is no insurance policy against the hard troubles of life. So we must never let a misplaced disappointment in God or our own faith be a barrier to seeking the help that God provides.

Ironically and often, one of the chief obstacles to getting help for an alcoholism and/or addiction issue is a distortion of faith.

On the one hand, people of faith sometimes bear a unique stigma, believing they will be ostracized or condemned if they or a family member has an addiction. Frankly, some people will look down on addicts and alcoholics, for their judgments create for them an artificial superiority. The fear of this condemnation keeps the addict and his or her family in the dark, and strengthens their denial of the real problem.

On the other hand, Many people of faith have a notion that their faith should have protected them against the chaos of addiction.

Almost always, faithful people will have prayed for help in overcoming addiction. They may have even seen a few weeks or months of light, only to once again spiral down into the darkness.

Then comes the common result: disappointment with God. So the end state is worse than the beginning, for the supreme source of help apparently is not dependable. Shame, blame, and guilt set in. Denial and despair deepen. Has faith failed?

In a word, no. Harold Kushner wrote, "Expecting the life to be fair to you because you are good, is like expecting a bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian." Life happens. We live in wondrous dreams, and terrible nightmares. We are victims and perpetrators. The presence of faith is simply no insurance policy against misfortune.

This topic is tricky and lengthy. While I do have some background and experience that helps me address this problem, I can only offer a few paragraphs of encouragement. This section of the website is not about the role of faith in recovery. It is about the mischievous idea that faith should have protected us from this problem, and because it didn't then perhaps we should simply fling away from faith.

But what if we looked at the problem from a different angle? Instead of an indictment of faith, the present distress you're experiencing can become a way to demonstrate the necessity and centrality of faith. Perhaps the God of your understanding has been slowly forming the answers to your questions and prayers. And perhaps your coming to this point of considering intervention is the step of action God has made available to you.