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I've accepted the fact that alcohol/drug addiction is a disease. When does it become a sin?

by Joan
(Texas)

I am a Christian and have attended Christian support groups at various churches working on my recovery from drug/alcohol addiction in my family. I grew up in an alcoholic home and I am currently receiving help from Al-Anon and NAMI.

My 28 year old son has a dual diagnosis, drug/alcohol addiction and bi-polar disorder. He refuses treatment for the mental illness and help for the addictions. He has been self-medicating for 12 years.

I've accepted the fact that addiction is a progressive and family disease. In some Christian support groups that I have attended, they've addressed drug/alcohol addiction as a sin and not as a disease. When does the disease model turn into sin?

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Does he want to be healed?
by: Ned Wicker

Dear Joan,

Jesus encountered a crippled man, lying on his mat. He asked the man an unusual question. "Do you want to be healed?" Possibly, through no fault of his own, the man could not walk, so his lack of mobility was certainly not sin. However, Jesus offered him a choice—to be healed, or to remain an invalid. The man wanted the Lord’s intervention, but what if he had refused such a gracious and generous offer?

Addition is a crippling disease and just as the man in the Biblical story could do nothing for himself, addicts need treatment to overcome this destructive force in their lives. As for the disease/sin question, you will be hard-pressed to convince an addict that he/she is in trouble, and an even harder task is to get him/her to stop. At what point does an addict know that their behavior is self-destructive?

During interventions, we have family members read letters to the addict, letters that chronicle all of the pain and suffering the addict has caused. Your son’s dual diagnosis makes this problem more difficult, because either the bi-polar or the addiction has robbed him of his ability to reason.

Is it sin to cause personal harm, or to bring one’s self to an early demise? Yes. But all too often Christians heap guilt and shame on top of the real problem, the control that the disease has over every thought and action he takes.

I am not dismissing the problem of sin, but first your son needs to get to the point where HE realizes that his actions are detrimental. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but it is not until we realize our sin, confess it and repent of it, that real healing can begin.

Look at the AA’s 12 Steps and interject God into every one of them. Your son's willingness to work the steps will help him to deal with the sin and help also help him the addiction. It’s all a part of the healing process.

This is a difficult question and I hope my answer has helped you a little bit as you deal with a horrifically difficult problem,

Ned

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